How Failure Makes You A Better Leader

It’s been ingrained in us from an earlier age that failure is bad. You shouldn’t aim to fail. If you do, you’re a failure.

I love what Zig Ziglar said about failure. Zig was famous for saying:

Remember that failure is an event, not a person.

It’s a lesson far too many of us learn too late in life. We’ve had the anti-failure message driven into us.

Ladder inside of a corn silo

Photo by Takahiro Taguchi

I know I have. I hated to fail for such a long time. It would drive me crazy. Now I’m getting used to failing.

Some of the recent areas I’ve failed in have been my physical health. But probably not in the way you’re thinking.

I’ve long been into physical fitness. I’ve run multiple half marathons, 25Ks (15.5 miles), and a full marathon. I feel fit and healthy.

Yet I still find myself failing in this area.

My recent runs have been a struggle. I’ve had to stop on multiple short to medium runs of less than 7 miles. My body felt like it couldn’t go without a break.

Or there’s been my training using the 5×5 Strengths app. This app slowly builds your weight lifting by adding 5 lbs each time you do the exercise on a new day.

The overhead press kills me every time. I struggle to get in 5 reps 5 times. By the 4th or 5th set, I am struggling to lift the barbell over my head.

There have been multiple times that I’ve failed. I logged the failure in the app and the app told me to try again the next time.

That’s the beauty of failure. Failure isn’t the end. Failure is a telltale sign that you need to improve.

The next time I try the exercise, I am able to lift more. Then the next time, even more. It’s a slow build and failure is a part of it.

How Failure Makes You A Better Leader

As a leader, we lift a different kind of weight or run a different kind of race. We lift the weight of those we lead or the organization we’re a part of. It’s a workout that taxes the mind and body.

There are days you go home feeling like you failed… You failed yourself, your organization, and your people. It’s depressing. It should also be encouraging.

On those days you feel like a failure, you have the opportunity to look at it as a learning and growth opportunity. You cannot grow your leadership muscles to the extent you want to without hitting points of failure. You will find there are times you cannot lead the way you want this.

This means you have to take a step back. You have to go back to the lower tasks and continue to build those leadership muscles, again and again.

There’s no shame in failing in something you’ve never done before. I would go as far as to say there’s no shame in failing in something you have done before.

Failure allows you to take a step back. It allows you to see what has stopped you from continuing. Failure gives you the opportunity to know your limits and then push through them.

Don’t let the thought of failure stop you. Don’t let failure stop you.

Failure isn’t fatal. You are not a failure.

What failure will do is strengthen you… if you let it.

Encouraging Quotes On Failure

I want to leave you with a few quotes on failure. They’ll encourage you to face failure and keep going.

The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times – Paulo Coelho

Failure is not the opposite of success. It is a part of success – Unknown

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original – Ken Robinson

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly – Robert Kennedy

Losers quite when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed – Robert Kiyosaki

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently – Henry Ford

Try. Fail. Learn – Amanda Hill

Failures are a part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you’ll never change – Unknown

Success is stumbling from failure to filure with no loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

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