Failing is Learning

By: Allison Muir

Why is it that leaders or those in the spotlight are expected to have all the answers alone? What experience has an individual had that cannot be bettered by the opinion or experience of others? Perhaps it is the love of superheros or the misconception of CEOs that leads people to believe it is possible for leaders to accomplish great feats alone without struggle. The truth is that the superheros or CEOs seen acting alone really have a team behind them that supports and helps them behind the scenes without stepping into the spotlight. The need for help is not a weakness or failure, it is the admission of struggle and acknowledgement of trust among a team. In order for any team to be successful trust and communication must flow freely, but the leader is not exempt from the need for help and actually vital to the desired trust and communication. Throughout my life, I have always been the type of person that would rather accomplish a task myself, even struggle through it, before asking for help or admitting that I can’t finish everything I expected myself. I know that I do not have the answer to every question nor am I capable of accomplishing every task alone, but when others place their trust in my actions I feel the need to succeed indivdiually and present my success to them afterwards. However, I am learning to accept that the ability to ask for help not only aids individual growth, but also helps all those involved develop closer ties and unite as a team of leaders.. Recently when observing a team struggle from the outside it became glaring clear that the team worked best when working together and failed when acting alone. The team was put together because they were all leaders of a particular skill and capable of performing in high pressure situations. When the skills of the individuals were put together, the team seemed unstoppable; until they stopped themselves. Since I was only an observer, I was very confused as to why none of them could see that they had stopped communicating and relying on each other; but then I realized that I have done the very same thing. When I fail at something I do not want to change my actions, but I want a different outcome-just as the struggling team was doing. In order to move past a failure or struggle as a team member or leader, one must stop relying on their own abilities and ask for the guidance of someone else who may see the situation differently. The trust and respect of others provides opportunity for learning, communication, and hopefully overcoming the frustrating obstacle. I still struggle today to ask for help, but when I have I witness the abilities and willingness of others as they teach me something new or assist me in accomplishing a goal. The wisdom and experience of others willing shared not only share a lesson for the present task, but also for the future. With this in mind it becomes clear that the superheros acting alone really have a team of support behind them; the CEO that maintains a company really has a CFO and countless professionals advising their every move. The success of a leader is greatly impacted by the abilities of their support team and their personal willingness to accept the help of the team looking out for them. The relationships within a team are built on trust and communication, but the leader of the team is not the perfect prototype of the team’s combined skills. The leader is the member of the team in the spotlight working by guidance of the team towards their common goal and willing to be the face of success and failure. A great leader will not crumble during failure, but rather bring it to their trusted team to learn the best solution and move forward. I strive to be this type of person that sees failure not as something that needs corrected, but rather something to learn from and use as an opportunity to strengthen the relationships around me.

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