When Have You Made Good From A Bad Situation?

A bad situation can happen to anyone, no matter how smart, lucky, rich, or talented they happen to be. When one occurs, what do you do?

Having a setback happen to you, while unfortunate or unpleasant at the time, can ultimately lead to improvement. If, that is, you treat it in an appropriate way.

One skill that you can learn is how to think creatively within constraints. Let’s imagine you are forced to produce something with a diminished budget, or have to include on your team someone you don’t get along with, for example. How can you overcome these obstacles?

Another potential benefit streamline your project. If you can’t do everything that you would like, what can you cut and still have your core principles intact? This re-imagining may even result in a better finished product or experience.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What is the value of inefficiency?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How can we encourage debate?’


If you have tried something and failed at it, that failure is actually an opportunity to learn what went wrong, or what might be improved on a subsequent attempt.

Or, at the very least, you can develop a thicker skin. There is a value to not letting difficulties derail you from your next project or opportunity.

All of these situations depend on a proper mental approach to struggle. You have to get up when knocked down.

Can you think of a time when you faced a bad situation, and made the most of it? Is there an instance — or instances — when a good outcome came from a dubious scenario?

Related questions: When is it useful to fail? When is doubt helpful? What humbles you? How do you define success?

4 thoughts on “When Have You Made Good From A Bad Situation?”

  1. Whenever I see a day that is overwhelmingly full of things that need to be done, I try to envision how things will feel at the end of the day when I’ve completed everything on the list, and every meeting is done. I use this as a tactic because situations like this can be quite Anxiety-inducing to me, thus addressing what makes this turning a bad situation into a good one.

    This practice first came to me years ago as I meditated in a yoga studio. (I, in fact, went to a yoga class specifically to calm the Anxiety I was experiencing because of the day ahead.) I focused on my reflection in the mirror, seeing a very stressed-out guy. I fleetingly thought about coming back to the class the next day. And then it hit me.,“What will tomorrow feel like?” The word “accomplished” flashed in my brain.

    This reorientation not only changed my mood, but it also helped me complete each task and contribute to each meeting in a non-reactive way.

    Granted, this change in perspective is challenging to conjure up. It doesn’t always work. But when it does, I’ve been able to approach my task and meeting-filled days with a great sense of confidence.

  2. There are two instances that immediately come to mind, both health related.

    After two major surgeries — brain surgery in the 1990s, and knee surgery in 2013 — I pushed myself really hard (but not *too* hard) during recovery. In both cases, I came out more physically fit that I had been going in.

    That extra training ultimately paid off with a big physical feat. Less than a year after my brain surgery, I successfully participated in a triathlon (1/2 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 6 mile run), and less than two years after my knee surgery I rode my bike across the United States.

  3. Covid times of necessity created shelters 24×7 and hotel isolation spaces for our vast numbers of persons surviving unhoused, as well as hazard pay for staff and creation of trusted messenger teams re: personal volition in healthcare. And the visa gift cards for getting the jab….. I heard of one gentleman who repeatedly received vaccinations and collected card after card. Many still have the stimulus checks still as cold cash in their freezers. Landlords are being made whole via massive funds reimbursed for rental arrears per the unit and in some instances were held to a 90 day paid to stay status. Or were required 15 day notices for notices to quit. Some HUD housing authority inspections were bumped to every 24 months versus annual. And even these sent over cell phones. That’s for starters in regards just to pandemic requirements or innovation. I say keep it all.

  4. This reminds me of an unfortunate situation from when I ran a printing business. It happened just a few months after opening the business. A customer was very unhappy with some printed invitations we delivered to her. She was so upset that she called up screaming and crying. I thought she was overreacting and that I had followed her instructions on the job, but rather than argue, I sent her a refund with my apologies. In response, she not only became friendly, but even sent me new customers.

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