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Why Every Leader Needs A Failure Résumé

By Chase Williams, founder and managing partner at Market My Market, helping businesses grow by implementing the right marketing systems and strategies.

Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Abraham Lincoln are some of the most well-known and successful leaders and business people of our time. Before achieving success, they all failed. To me, their resilience, determination and ability to pivot after failing sets them apart from everyone else and laid the foundation for them to become the legends they are today.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination. Bill Gates co-owned a company before Microsoft that was a flop. Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her news anchor job. Abraham Lincoln lost in both a Senate race and a vice presidential run.

When Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination, it could have easily deterred him from pursuing his creative endeavors. Instead, he went on to build an empire of which imagination is the very cornerstone. Bill Gates could have seen his initial venture’s downfall as a sign he wasn’t cut out for the tech world. Yet, he went on to create Microsoft.

Social media is saturated with curated success stories and manipulated images that paint a portrait of constant triumph and perfection. This skewed representation can overshadow the genuine struggles and failures that precede true success. Oprah Winfrey’s early career setback didn’t define her; instead, her journey from that point to becoming a media mogul has inspired millions. Her story is a testament to the idea that where we start doesn’t determine where we can go.

Naturally, none of us aim for failure. So the question is: How can we cultivate resilience and fortify our body and mind without experiencing failure? Here are some strategies to equip yourself with.

Practice Self Awareness

Recognize your emotions, triggers and reactions. Take a breath.

Maintain Perspective

Most business problems are temporary. When a problem arises, don’t be the victim. Look at a problem as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Take ice baths. Run a marathon. Speak in public. Do things that are outside of your comfort zone. The more you normalize difficult situations, the more comfortable you’ll be when things get hard in your business.

Continue Learning

Learn from your mistakes. Always be reading and learning. Wisdom comes in many forms.

Limit Exposure To Negativity

Cut out the friends and peers who bring you down. Surround yourself with positive people who push you. When you tell someone about your next business idea, do you want to be around the person who raises an eyebrow and looks at you like you’re crazy? Or would you rather tell the person who looks at you with admiration and pumps you up about your idea?

Express Gratitude

The grass is not always greener. Remind yourself regularly how thankful you are and say it out loud.

Every failure on a leader’s résumé is a lesson. It’s an opportunity to learn, reflect and evolve. These setbacks often teach leaders about their strengths and weaknesses. In turn, this helps them make more informed decisions and gives them the grit to be the leaders they were born to be. It’s important to know that failure is okay. Embrace failure, recognize it and own it.

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