(StatePoint) Everyone faces setbacks in life. While those personal obstacles can lead to disappointing outcomes, they can also be harnessed into personal motivators, say experts.

“When it comes to success, setbacks can be used to motivate one to action, rather than the alternative,” says five-time New York Times best-selling author and journalist Josh Young, who has studied this concept intimately. As author of “And Give up Showbiz?” the new biography of illustrious personal injury lawyer Fred Levin, Young documents the rise and success of someone to whom life handed lemons.

Levin is listed in every edition of “Best Lawyers in America,” and is inducted into the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame. But his still-thriving legal career that spans over a half-century wasn’t written in the stars. Levin grew up the son of a pawnbroker and dog track manager at the end of the Great Depression. Barely passing college, his success was certainly against the odds.

Having closely studied and tracked Levin’s exponential rise to success, Young is offering insights into how to turn your impediments into assets.

• When a door is closed, open a window:  When your limitations are beyond your control, view them as opportunities. As a Jewish lawyer, few doors were open to Levin in the early 1960s, especially in the particularly profitable area of corporate law. Levin leveraged this anti-Semitism that was prevalent at the start of his career to forge a path for himself as a personal injury lawyer -- a profession that was then in its infancy and distained by the established, but would eventually become wildly lucrative.

Levin also harnessed his own personal experiences with discrimination to become an open advocate for African Americans and gays, and has been honored by the United States Congressional Black Caucus and the United Nations for his efforts.

• Don’t get silo-ed: The skills that have served you well in one arena can be applied to others, as well. So don’t get stuck on a narrow path. Levin, for example, has successfully pivoted into worlds unrelated to trial law, tackling such diverse challenges as founding the first reality cable TV station, managing the boxing career of one of the greatest boxers to ever live, and even running a chain of women’s dress shops and barbecue joints. 

Discover what it is about you that helped you succeed and find ways to apply those skills in new ways.

• Turn insult into victory: Not everyone with power and influence over your future is going to be your advocate. Rather than let naysayers’ prophecies become reality, succeed in spite of their beliefs about your potential. When Levin entered law school, he had a reputation as a party boy, gambler and lousy student. Having barely skidded through college, the dean of his law school predicted he would never graduate. Even while dealing with the death of his brother, Levin proved the dean wrong, graduating third in his class.

Information about Young’s new book can be found at www.AndGiveUpShowBiz.com.

Even when obstacles abound, so do opportunities. With some creative thinking, you can triumph over setbacks.

Photo Credit: (c) Olly - Fotolia.com