Advice & Help

One door is closed, another is open: Making your comeback from a setback

You may have heard of Bob Marley. He is the Jamaican philosopher/reggae superstar who has penned many memorable songs including one of my favorites:  Coming in from the Cold. In this particular song,  Marley queries, “Why do you look so sad and forsaken?”  Then, without waiting for an answer, Marley offers up some sound advice in the form of a rhetorical question:  “When one door is closed, don’t you know another is open?”   

For many of us, when a door closes, we feel our world has come to an abrupt end, even when it’s US who consciously decided to close the door on a particular chapter of our lives. No matter the reasons or circumstances for a closed door, take care not to lose hope.  Not to see an end, rather to look for another entry. 

Though often unwelcome and unexpected, change is inevitable. Shifting attention from what we’ve lost or have been shut off from to what we still have in hand or what we can achieve through another door can be very difficult.  As Bob Marley says, we get “sad and forsaken” because we desperately want to hold on to what we have in hand instead of venturing into the dreaded unknown.  The truth is that if the door is closed, locked, sealed forever, continuing to focus on it expecting to find a way in will be a grand waste of time.   We have no choice but to recalculate our path forward. 

Of course, I understand the dilemma.  Over the last three years, we have seen investments evaporate in the stock markett, jobs sail overseas.  We grapple with trepidation and uncertainty about what the future holds.  

Many people with a mortgage, car note, and kids to put through college have found themselves on one side of a sealed door while their lifesavings or assumed earnings are on the other.  Finding yourself in such a predicament can be unnerving at best, but grousing or brooding has yet to bring even one job back. When the door slams on a current opportunity, start looking towards an alternative entry.  

The new door represents a chance to learn new skills, a chance to improve yourself, remake yourself to achieve gainful employment.  Instead of fixating on what could have been, tap your imagination to see what can still be.  Search your soul to rediscover what it is you truly want to get out of life and, perhaps more importantly, to put into life.   When you find yourself “locked out” or “sealed off” from your presumed life path, get creative.  Take action.  

The stories of folks who have lost their jobs, retooled themselves, and found employment in a different industry or who have become self-made entrepreneurs are myriad and inspiring.  I recently read a story about a woman named Maura Jarve. She got laid off from her job while on maternity leave.  Maternity leave!  Did she become angry and vengeful?  In fact, she did.  But only initially.  She quickly refocused.  Rather than fretting over the fact that a door had just closed on her. She looked for new way forward, a door that led to a path to owning her own company.  Now she employs her creative genius and others to help small and medium sized companies build their brands and create better images of who they are and what they can do.  In other words, instead of bringing herself down, she’s uplifting others… and getting paid for it! 

The lesson learned:  do not crawl into a shell and hide with shame because you lost your savings, your job, or both.  Do not dwell on blaming your boss, the government… the cruel and unjust universe!  Instead, decide that it is time to work harder, increase your focus and determination. Redirect your anger and frustration. Take the knowledge and experience you have garnered from this lost opportunity and compress it into a platform that you can stand on to see the future, a launching pad that will propel you toward higher goals, faster and more efficiently.

Keep On Pushing!

About the Author
Devon Harris is a member of the original “Cool Runnings” Jamaica Bobsled Team which competed in 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. He has also competed in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville , France and the 1988 Games in Nagano, Japan. He is currently a Motivational Keynote Speaker, Workshop Facilitator and Author. Visit his website at

About the author

Devon Harris

Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.