Great Success Comes from Failure – Learning to Lead Through Past Mistakes

June 8, 2012

Being a leader does not mean you have to be perfect. In fact, being imperfect is what can unleash the true leader in all of us. Going through tough life experiences, making mistakes, stumbling in front of peers – it’s what makes leaders human beings. And it’s being uniquely human that makes a leader stand out.

Dale Carnegie was known for saying, “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

His words are just as relevant as they were a century ago. Too many people beat themselves up for making mistakes or looking bad in front of others. Whether it’s a bad business decision or a personal choice, it seems like people are more judgmental and easy to criticize other people. This is not the stuff that leadership is made of.

Without mistakes, people do not grow. Experiencing a failure and  the discouragement that comes afterwards is what helps people to process the path they are taking. Instead of focusing on being perfect all the time, it’s critical to analyze the mistake to gain a deeper understanding of oneself. By using this time to reflect on the mistake, a person grows wiser and learns more about himself.

While leaders are not perfect people, they do tend to be in better touch with their own personal limitations and abilities. Leaders have often been called “dreamers” and innovators, which is certainly a personality trait. With dreaming oftentimes comes frustration and failure, but leaders face this with a positive attitude, expecting the best outcome. Are you that kind of leader?

To be a leader means being fearless, even of making mistakes and experiencing short-term failures. Take an inventory of the mistakes and failures of your past, then consider how each of these experiences have shaped the person you are now. Chances are that the failures and discouragements of your past, have turned into better opportunities for you now. Use these experiences to grow as a leader, and move from the past into the future.

Become a stronger leader by attending a Dale Carnegie course this year.

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