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Honoring Failure, Growing Through Failure

One thing every one of us has in common is this: we fail. Everyone has experienced it, we will again, but few of us want to think about it, let alone talk about it. The best leaders, the people who live most successfully and are most personally satisfied are those who have learned not only to accept that failure happens to us without discrimination, that we can honor it, learn from it, and grow from it.It’s difficult, though, because failure is something we want to hide, to lock up behind closed doors. Failure makes us feel ashamed, vulnerable and apologetic. But failure doesn’t mean WE are failures—it doesn’t mean that the game is over. It means we have a new opportunity to gain wisdom and move forward stronger.First, we need to consider the most common reasons we fail. Lolly Daskal, leadership guru, says 7 core reasons are:

  • A fixed mindset.It's satisfying to believe that what you know and how you know it is always the right way, but of course we don't know it all. Instead we need a growth mindset, one that believes there's always something to learn, something to grow with, something to get better at. it doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop.

  • Stagnant development. Most of us can get pretty far on our natural strength, gifts and talents. But at some point, we may discover we don't have the skills we need to keep advancing, and we find ourselves at a standstill. To grow, we need to always keep developing ourselves. If we stop learning we stop growing.

  • No clear purpose. if you aren't sure where you're going, it's natural to get lost, over and over again. To briefly wander off the path is one thing, but to not have a goal, a purpose, doesn't allow you to plan. And, as the old saying goes, when you fail to plan you are planning to fail. Your purpose is the place where your deep determination meets the impact you want to make.

  • Negative thinking. Few things are more destructive. Nothing ever good has ever come from negative thinking; instead, it feed our shame and vulnerabilities. If you want to succeed, learn the power of positivity and what it can do when you are trying to achieve something difficult. Think of failure as unfinished success.

  • Lack of productivity. Without action, there is no productivity; without productivity, there's no achievement; without achievement, there's no success. Your future is created by what you do today, not by what you do tomorrow. Nothing will work unless you do. Even a little progress each day can yield big results.

  • Lack of motivation. If you don't want to fail, you have to start working toward success. If it's important to you, you'll find it within you to get it done. If not, you'll find excuses--and then failure is just around the corner.

  • Shortage of confidence.Without confidence, where you are going to get the strength to move forward? Confidence is especially needed when failure presents itself. Your confidence is the most important factor in your achievement.

But failure makes better leaders when leaders figure out why they failed, and mine the wisdom from it.Failure shapes leaders. Someone who never fails either never takes risks or constantly finds a way to weasel out of responsibility. The greatest leaders in the world have been shaped by failure. Read their biographies. Whether athletes, CEO’s, teachers, politicians—they have all been shaped by failure. Most would see that as a failure, and yet they created one of the historic companies. The most rewarding decisions of your life will be shaped by how you react to failure.Resilience, the ability to bounce back, can only be learned from failure. Failure will teach you resilience and how not to buckle when you experience difficult times.It will help us learn what works. To learn what works and what doesn't you have to test. If you are unwilling to fail, you will never go through this process and you will never achieve the things you want to achieve, as a result. Accepting failure will push you to try things you have never tried before and potentially win big.When a leader accepts failure and doesn’t run from it, failure actually improves the morale of the people who work for us. There's nothing worse than working for someone who believes they can do no wrong, shift the blame, or pretend nothing bad happened. When your employees see that you fail and learn from it, they will actually be encouraged and lose their own fear.Failure teaches you who REALLY believes in what you are doing and who is going to bail when the going gets tough. You wouldn't have known that unless something had gone wrong.Michael Jordan, incredible NBA Star, famously said, ““I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”John Maxwell says, “There are two ways you can fail: you can fail forward, or you can fail backwards. The choice is yours.” His book FAILING FORWARD is filled with practical advice for turning your failure into the springboard for success.If we are going to flourish in life and work, we must realize there is one major difference between average people and achievers. The difference is how they respond to failure. To become a great leader in 2016 you have to be comfortable with things going wrong. Great leaders see them as learning opportunities, rather than setbacks. As long as you learn from the mistakes you make, failure is a worthwhile endeavor.

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