Gayle's Insights

Building Leadership Strength Through Failure

By Gayle Lantz

The other day I was doing a little strength training at the gym. Somehow I lifted a barbell overhead that went one way and I went another.

During my attempt to lift it, I dropped the barbell and flew backwards a few feet until I hit the wall and fell flat on the floor. I was a bit stunned, but surprisingly uninjured.

One of my coaches said, “Gayle, you’re really good at failing!”

Little did he know how much truth was in that statement.

I’ve failed a lot.

When you think about where you are and where you want to be in your business (or your life for that matter), there’s some kind of gap.

The better you are at dealing with failure, the better chances of closing that gap. Instead of letting failure stagnate you, you can accept it as a normal part of the process.

As a leader, you must override the fear of failure when it creeps into your mindset.

It’s not always the big scary things that hold you back. It’s often the everyday situations:

Fear about having a difficult conversation

Fear about making a bad decision

Fear about speaking the truth

Fear about changing direction

Fear about not being ready

The higher your leadership level, the more pressure and fear of failure you might feel. If you exude fear, it’s likely other people feel your negative energy.

Some people are simply more fear-based thinkers than others. Increasing your self-awareness in this area through assessments or other means can give you useful insight about yourself in your leadership role.

Don’t let fear of failure get the best of you. Here are some helpful ways to think about failure in a positive light.

Think of failure as:

  • A teacher: There’s a lesson in your experience. What have you learned?
  • A resilience builder: Whether you bounce back fast or rebound slowly, you will recover. How will you be stronger?
  • An indicator: Something needs to change. What is it?

Separate yourself from the failure.

You are not a failure.

In business, failures can lead to innovation and breakthroughs. Some failures create needed disruption and new thinking.

Company cultures that foster healthy failure need to consider the difficulty many people have in allowing themselves to fail.

Like anything else, you get more of what you focus on. If you’re overly concerned about failure, you’re more likely to fail.

See what happens when you focus more on your growth and success.

When I hit that wall, for a moment, I wondered if I should try to lift those weights again.

But I realized if I don’t, I won’t get stronger.

Even as I write this post, I hear one voice in my head saying, “What if people don’t read this?” or “Maybe this isn’t good enough.”

Another voice takes over and says, “If I don’t write this, I might miss the opportunity to offer ideas that can help people who need this message.”

Then I hit “SEND.”

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About the author (Gayle Lantz)

Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their business and themselves..
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