Mountain Runs and Hard Conversations.

We’re taught that mistakes and failures are bad. In leadership, the urge to maintain a blemish-less persona is even more alluring. At the core of healthy leadership however, is the understanding that we won’t always make the right decision and we can always improve. Our response to failure is often a better indicator of our potential than a long track record of success.

Nothing illustrates this better than an interaction I had with Brett Hagler, our CEO at New Story.

At the time, I had been on the team for about a month. It was Day 2 of a quarterly retreat and I was running with Brett through the mountains of Northern California. Our discussion shifted towards a team conversation from the previous day and I expressed concern about how he handled the interaction. It wasn’t a major offense, but was seemly out of character and indicative of a larger tension.

Having known each other for barely a month, I was prepared for various levels of indignation. He could have easily gotten defensive and ‘put me in my place’. As one who often speaks my mind, I’ve grown accustomed to this response. Instead, he listened. He allowed me to voice my concern, asked questions to understand further, and even welcomed more observations in the future. Later that morning as the team finished up breakfast, Brett gathered the group’s attention and without trying to justify his actions, publicly apologized to the team member from the previous day.

His humility and candor in that moment set the tone for our relationship and sparked my trust in his leadership. Instead of trying to disguise his mistake or erase a failure, he took ownership and leveraged the moment to remind the everyone what type of team we will strive to be.

Under Brett’s leadership, New Story has raised millions and funded hundreds of homes, but it is this level of leadership that sets the tone for an even brighter future.