6 leadership lessons failure teaches

Success and failure are two sides of the same coin and how you deal with one directly affects the other.

Some of the world’s greatest leaders have experienced numerous setbacks before they embarked on their journey of success. Thomas Edison famously failed 10,000 times before he successfully invented the electric light bulb. Every setback taught him one more way that didn’t work. From survival and reinvention to humility, failure can teach you a lot about how to be a better leader.

1. Be ready for second chances
Rather than letting failure overwhelm you and blind you to the situation, use it as a way to clear the cobwebs from you mind and see the world through a clearer lens. Widen you horizons, avoid narrowing your focus to a pinpoint. This way you will see the opportunities you otherwise would have missed being blinded by emotions. Let the failure prepare you to better seize the next opportunity.

2. Never stop taking risks
After a failure, we all tend to shy away from taking risks and exposing ourselves for another blow. But trying to stick to the status quo could mean that you’re losing out on opportunities for business growth. Rather than becoming averse to risks by viewing it through the lens of loss, focus on the learning gleaned from the failure and let it make you stronger.

3. Learn to trust your instincts
Once you’ve acknowledged the failure and absorbed the lessons it can teach you will be better prepared for the next venture/project. The next time a similar situation arises you will know exactly what to do and what not to do. If you view failure as a teacher it will make you wiser and help you learn new skills. With each instance you will get stronger and more fearless, thereby giving yourself the strength to rely on your intuition and instincts.

4. Persistence pays
It’s a fact of life that you won’t always succeed in the first try. You need to work at it, keep improving, innovating and pushing past boundaries and comfort levels to get to your goal. Embrace your shortcomings and modify your strategy every time you experience a setback. It’s the business world’s equivalent to learning to ride a bike. You didn’t learn it in the first try. It took quite a lot of wobbling around, falling down, and getting hurt before you got the hang of it. So keep your goal in sight, sift through the setback to learn what worked and what didn’t and use that information to devise a stronger, more effective strategy for the next round.

5. Flexibility is key
If you insist on sticking to a plan that doesn’t have a good track record, you can’t be upset when it fails. A leader needs to know when to stand firm and when to revise and modify the course of action. Flexibility is key to bouncing back from failure. Use the knowledge gained from failure to hone your skills and gain a fresh perspective on situations.

6. Capitalise on failure as a starting point
With the setback in the past you now have a clear path ahead of you. It’s a clear break, giving you a chance to move on and discover the next opportunity. Try to not let emotions and the blame game keep you fixated at that point. Manoeuvre around it and prep yourself at a new starting point.

Photograph: Mindandi – 

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