Learn From It, and Keep Pushing Forward

failure growth integrity leadership success Aug 09, 2020

Originally shared in A Daily Dose Of Leadership on July 17, 2020.

I remember hearing a story about a college football coach who was training someone new to help with the team’s recruiting efforts. He gave a scenario of a few players he had recently scouted. One was getting pushed all over the field, knocked down over and over, and eventually left the game. Another was also getting knocked around but was very quick to jump back up for the next play and give it everything he had. When he asked his new scout to guess which player he was most interested in recruiting to play for their school, the scout immediately picked the player who kept getting back up each time he was knocked down. The coach explained that while that was definitely the better choice between those two players who were being knocked down, he was even more interested in the player who kept knocking them down!

Yeah, I know it’s corny… And this blog isn’t about knocking other players down. I just thought I’d open with some amusement to close the week.

As we think about that coach’s example though, don’t we all naturally cheer for that guy who just keeps pushing forward even though he’s getting knocked around? Most of us absolutely love an underdog story. But why?

In reality, we all get knocked around from time to time, especially when we’re pursuing something of significance. And even more so when we’ve got the guts to accept responsibility for leading a team with integrity through challenging situations!

I’ll stress again here before moving on, this isn’t to be confused with managing or supervisor by barking orders at a group of yes-men/women who lack the confidence to push back when we’re out line…

As leaders, there’s certain to be times where we stumble and fall. There will also be some times where someone quite simply knocks on our tails! The measure of authenticity then becomes how we’re willing to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and continue pushing forward toward our goal or purpose.

Over the last few blogs, we’ve taken a look at the importance of developing a strong mindset, how critical it is to take action toward our goal, and the power in identifying a process for sustaining that action. One last thing we need to be very intentional about doing as we build each of these things into who we are and what we do is ensuring we always invest the necessary effort into extracting the lesson from each failure we encounter.

A lot of folks in positions of authority mistakenly believe that they won’t (or don’t) screw up. And just as many spend far more time trying to up their errors than correcting them, learning from them, and getting better through the process. That’s not leading! It’s also lacks integrity, and it’s not realistic.

When we can truly get comfortable with the idea of failing forward, we’re able to turn each of the individual pieces we’ve looked at through the last few blogs into the success we’re really working to achieve, for ourselves as well as for the team members we lead!

I’ll close with this question: what steps are you taking to help your team understand the power of failing forward rather than failing and giving up?