Failing? A Personal Leader Can Leverage Learning

by anne preston on May 16, 2011

Take the LearningA water lily rises up above and out of  the muck – to successfully flower.

A water lily is a perfect metaphor for how you can bloom and grow leveraging learning  to rise  up above of the darkness and muck of failure.

Raising your level of self  mastery by being a continual learner shines a light on your ability to grow as a personal leader by taking away from any failure - valuable learning from your actions.

Leveraging learning can help you to stay out of a repeating pattern.  It can raise your awareness of possibilities of innovation and opportunities for creative new solutions.  It can also limit the amount of “down-time” you experience as a result of a setback or a dip into the darkness of what you may have labeled failure.

Here are 7 tips to leveraging learning (around failure) for Personal Leaders:

1.Be courageous.  Having courage to look beyond a limiting belief in those moments when you are afraid to try something because you are worried you might fail – is a skill developed by personal leaders.   Being alert for those little signals of fear will help you increase your flexibility and awareness – not only on how to re-align towards success, but also help you know how to fail effectively when failure is happening.

Failing effectively means not getting stuck in the muck of a disappointment more than a moment before getting yourself back in momentum towards success again.  It also means not “waiting to perfect” something in a state of incubation in order to get it out there; that just keeps your project from being born and you from learning from experience.

Instead put yourself in a place to create-in-action so that you have lots of opportunity for learning.  This way you can make good decisions based on receiving good feedback.

These are courageous acts.

2.Reframe failing into a resource.  Recognize when you are going for “success”  – You are going outside of your comfort-state or comfort-zone.

Outside,  where  you’ll have new experiences and new things to “try” ; all in practice.  Excellence takes practice.  Practice often includes a balance of trying and failing. Give yourself that grace.

A related reframing practice is to look at “What’s perfect about this?”  It’s a way of uncovering little pieces of resource with the failure that may not been in your awareness – and if you happen to be emotionally stuck… it’s an idea of a  way to help you move back into courage.

3.Be enthusiastic.  Be willing to “enjoy” the learning.   Enjoy the experience of being in a “stretch-zone”.   Often, when failure happens and you’ve been congruent, it’s because you may have extended beyond your current level of mastery in to areas where perhaps a greater level of personal mastery is required.

When you manage your emotional states to ones of enthusiasm: hope, confidence, curiosity and engagement; it makes the process of learning more enjoyable while you are increasing your level of mastery.

4.Avoid getting caught up in your thinking.  Over analyzing a failure or even worse, “beating yourself up” or getting caught up in a blame-game generally doesn’t serve much purpose.  You can leverage the experience however, just quickly and efficiently note what you need to change, learn or grow into and then focus your energy there instead.

Try to spend at least 80-90% of your time on forward thinking activities.

5.Take an appreciative perspective.  Identify the best within the experience.  Within every experience is  something of value. Capture what is most valuable about the experience that you want to move forward with.   Knowing what you will do again can be useful information when you are developing your new plan.   It can be especially important to capture the elements of those “best of” experiences in times when you felt fully alive and energized.

And hey, spend a little time dreaming too.  In those dreams are wishes and clues to possible resources you can bring into your learning objectives and personal leadership.

6.Ponder things.  Spending enough time thinking about deeper opportunities, perspectives and workarounds.    For example, can you innovate the flaws?  Can you get creative outside of the paradigm?  As an exercise,  take a piece of paper - and capture  elements of  what failed, what worked and what the learning is to aid you to go deeper and take the learning.

Spending a bit of time thinking how you could work the thing better next time around or learning from the experience you just had often can help you create better strategies for your next adventure outside of your comfort zone.

7. Pursue Self Mastery.  Failing is growing, evolving and adapting.  There isn’t an expectation of  instant blooming – but rather a small incremental rise up towards being a better personal leader.  It comes from putting into practice the little adaptations you learn as you move toward what is most meaningful for you.

So, if  you have just felt like you’ve been slowed down by too much muck.   You might be interested to see if raising your standards of your own personal leadership by paying attention to what it is you need to learn will pay off for you.  Perhaps , it might even be the difference in energy to you reaching your self-defined success. (or not)

You deserve BETTER.  An leveraging learning is one way to get BETTER as a personal leader.

Here is an interesting article written by Nigel Brownbill referencing a Harvard Business Review issue from 2010 by Berinato, S. (2010). Success Gets into Your Head – and Changes It. Harvard Business Review. Vol. 88, Issue. 1, p.28.

I love this perspective by Michelle Shaeffer.com of michelleshaeffer.com  “Learning to be brave, take a risk, and fix a mistake are all part of the journey”.  I agree – it’s all part of a personal leadership journey.

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