Invenio: Coaching and Mentoring March 2016 - Page 52

The table below is an illustration of my interpretation of setbacks and failures versus successes and achievements. Setbacks and failures are normally associated and experienced with negativity, while opportunity and success are normally associated with positivity.

Our innate subjective negative connotation and interpretation of words like “setbacks” and “failures” create feelings of negativity in the same manner as “opportunity” and “success” create feelings of positivity.

Setbacks and failures impact differently on different people. Some cope, some don’t. Some become depressed and suicidal, some don’t. Some experience feelings of low self esteem or self worth - “I’m not good enough” and when repeated often enough and it becomes a reality whilst others choose to take action and get out of the situation.

Setbacks and failures are disabling and create feelings of fear and paralysis - negativity. Success (achievement) and opportunity are enabling and create feelings of excitement and empowerment - positivity.

In my opinion, setbacks and failures have as many meanings and occurs as often as there are people making up this planet and nobody escapes or is immune to them.

The negativity and disabling feeling we experience are not comfort zones and because of that reason, we do not procrastinate to start the recovery process - the more intense the need to change from negativity to positivity, the swifter the move to action.

I also had my fair share of setbacks and failures.

I know how the feeling of “the whole world and everyone in it, is against me”, “miserable and destitute” and “down and out”.

I however did not allow the setback and failure to take over my life and eventually - not immediately because it does take time to get over it - chose action and moved on and embraced what we all prefer - positivity.

I had three life changing setbacks in my life and many failures. I will only share the setbacks.

The first setback was in 1961, when I was 5 years old and diagnosed with Perthes disease.

Unlike today, was a very serious and debilitating disease in 1961 and very few children recovered from it.

It took two years, from being bedridden for 18 months with weights on my feet and a year in a leg brace and a positive mind and support from my parents, to recover completely. Not many children recovered from this disease back then.

The the positivity of my parents that I will recover, taught positivity and which helped me to deal with my situation and potential similar situations in future.

The second setback was in 1986, at the age of 30 when I was diagnosed with AIDS.

Being diagnosed with AIDS back then was a death sentence The medical fraternity was not aware that HIV was the cause of AIDS.

Infected people were stigmatized and discriminated against. They died in the most unimaginable humiliating way within 5 to 10 years of diagnoses because HIV multiplies in the body resulting in an increase in viral load and a decrease in CD4 count.

Today HIV is classified as a chronic illness/disease treated with anti-retroviral (ARV’s) medication. Read more at

I have a very strong and positive mind and an extraordinarily passion for life which is, at the lack of a better expression, my survival mechanisms.

I started taking ARV’s 18 years after being diagnosed with AIDS (HIV) in 1986.

I believe that my positive mindset, my healthy diet and the emotional support I got from everyone in my life, kept me alive.

It was a friend who asked me to do my first motivational talk at his workplace that made me realize that there I can make a difference to the lives of people and that feeling of positivity it brought about, is priceless.

I had a platform to use to share and teach other people and to make a difference to the lives of many.

I started my own business, “Wellness Worx”, and designed a Champions of Wellness Development Program” to develop employees in organizations as Champions of Wellness, Champions of Life, Champions of Change and a Champion Buddy. Read more at

The third setback was in March 2012 at age 56, when I was hospitalized due to ill health and spent the next two years in and out of hospital.

During that time I suffered a heart attack and two major brain seizures, fell and broke the femur in my right leg, fractured my vertebra due to osteoporosis that I did not even know of, and had a mitral valve replacement as a result of infective endocarditis.

I left the hospital in a wheel chair, crutches and a walker.

The following are some of the lessons I have learnt from setbacks and failures.

Setbacks and failures are part of life.

If allowed to become the focus of your life and take control of it, they will limit you. Be aware of it and avoid it.

Never forget the big picture. Setbacks and failures only slow you down, they do not end your life.

They mould and prepare you for life - learn from them and deal with them.

Setbacks and failures are challenges in disguise and can be turned into opportunities and a platforms for success.

Do your best to avoid experiencing the same setback or failure.

I will be 60 years old this month and having written this article, I trust that it’s contents will change someone’s life somewhere with positivity and made them realize that it is OK to have setbacks and failures but always remember the the big picture.