Editor’s note: The following is a guest perspective.

What separates the winners from the others? Your success does not depend on how you respond to the good days. Your success depends on how you respond to the bad days.

Winners fail. In fact, winners fail more often than others. That’s how they become winners. They learn and grow from their failures. What separates the winners from the others is how they respond to their failures and setbacks.

Everyone suffers when they fail. After the failure do you get emotional and dwell on it? Of course, we all do that. The key is how long you dwell on it and what you do next to get past it.

Winners suffer deeply, but they get objective and refocus quickly. They quickly consider what there is to learn from the failure or setback. They look for patterns and connections to see if there is a systemic problem that can be corrected and lead to a significant improvement. Then they get back into action.

They take action on the correction if there is such action to take. Then, quickly, they get on with what has to be done next to move their business forward with little or no residual "drag or delay" from the failure or setback.

A breakdown on failures and setbacks

People have far more control over some breakdowns than others. Consider the example of a real estate agent who works hard to put a deal together but the buyer is unexpectedly laid off from their job.

You have less control over such a circumstance than other types of problems that could and should be identified earlier. Either way, it’s a breakdown.

Some setbacks are much harder to get past than others. My elderly neighbor’s teenage granddaughter was visiting. When the teenager got up at night to use the bathroom, she turned out all the lights, not knowing her grandma always left one on so she could see.

The grandma fell down the stairs and will be recovering and rehabilitating from her injuries for many months. Think of the grandma in recovery, the granddaughter’s guilt, and her parents’ struggle to help the young woman get past it. Some setbacks are much harder to get past.

Breakthrough via breakdown

Like all successful strategies, this is a system. It is a simple system. Do not confuse simple with easy. It is difficult to put into practice. It is difficult to practice consistently. However, once it is mastered it becomes a path to a life of greater courage, filled with breakthroughs and less fear of breakdowns.

When you have a setback or failure that creates a breakdown, there is a five-step process that turns that breakdown into breakthrough.

1. Acknowledge the error. Simply recognize and admit that, yes this happened or is happening. This may mean also recognizing and admitting the (sometimes dire) consequences of the error.

2. Take responsibility for it. This means you accept that you caused it. You do this even if it is unreasonable; even if it seems completely inaccurate. You do not have to tell anyone else that you take responsibility.

You take this step for the purpose of taking control of your life and seeking the breakthrough.

3. Forgive yourself and/or anyone else for the error. Forgiveness is an act and a sign of strength and confidence. In this system it communicates that sense of strength and confidence to you. It builds and expands your self-esteem.

4. Recommit to the goal … or not. In whatever endeavor the error occurred. Recommit to the effort. Or choose to end the effort. If it’s the latter, make it a conscious choice. If you choose to recommit — and in most cases you will — then if it is a lost real estate deal, recommit to your goals and career.

If it is a habit or addiction, recommit to your health and vision. As earlier, if it is a tragedy, recommit to love and a life of purpose. As part of your recommitment, choose a deadline, a new deadline or timeframe.

5. Get immediately back into action. You may get immediately into action toward the goal. Follow the famous advice of self-help guru Anthony "Tony" Robbins: "Never leave the site of setting a goal without first taking some form of positive action toward its attainment."

And once you have taken that action toward your goal, get back into action in your life — whatever it is you choose to do next.

The real estate business is one that can cause several areas of breakdown, and sometimes daily. A truly successful agent can get past these opportunities for breakdown and learn from them to minimize the effect next time.

6. Put it in print. Print this article now. Highlight or circle the parts that you want to remember. Stick it on a wall or somewhere that you can find it, so that when you have your next breakdown you can see whether there is a way to turn that difficult moment into the path to your next breakthrough.

Rich Levin is a real estate coach and teacher. He is president of Rich Levin’s Success Corps Inc. and can be reached at rich@richlevin.com.

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