Being a leader is an organic experience. Growth is essential. When you stop growing, you don't remain static, you go backwards. A plant left untended will die, and so it goes with leadership.
Most people think of themselves as leaders. "I could do better than that" is often heard as criticism of football coaches, politicians, and especially those in authority over others. But being bossy doesn't make a good boss.
Some are born leaders; but becoming a leader is not a guarantee. Native talent in dance or athletics or writing does not necessarily translate into the the Royal Ballet, the NFL or the New York Times Bestseller list. Those accomplishments are the result of years of hard work.
Martin Zwilling, executive, entrepreneur and author, says "leadership is learned from experience, mentoring and failure." Acquiring skill on the job and getting good advice is to be expected; but how does failure help?
Arguably the most successful writer in history, JK Rowling, credits her failures for her success. The world sees Rowling as she is now: beautiful, famous and rich. No one saw her as a single mother struggling to feed her baby and keep a roof over their heads.
In 2008, she told new graduates at Harvard that poverty forced her to face her worst fears and failures. She overcame them by focusing her talents and strengths toward creating Harry Potter. This woman, who has since earned over a billion dollars said, "rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
The pain, anxiety and humiliation of going through such difficulties made Rowling examine herself, acknowledge what she needed to change, and make a plan. Her advice, "Achievable goals: the first step to self-improvement."
Whether you are a CEO or a worker bee, understanding what leadership entails will serve you well. And knowing that some degree of failure will be a part of your life and career is a great lesson from which you can grow.
For more on this, visit the Self-Improvement or Career Advice section of our blog.
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