Off-Season--Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Some people call it failure. I call it opportunity. Opportunity to learn and grow. The people we lead are counting on our ability to turn failure into resilience, and its a requirement for our growth as a leader.
Rather than allowing failure to slow us down or even prevent us from starting, we can use the power of failure to move forward by learning.
Since I have started doing triathlons, I have learned a lot about myself. I guess you could say I have done a lot of not winning! When I started out doing triathlons I really did not know what to expect. I just thought this would be another challenge for me to accomplish.
A challenge it certainly is! Triathlon has been nothing but educational for me. It has made me a better person, it has taught me a lot about myself, and it has allowed me to grow closer with my kids. Not sure about my wife yet! Just kidding!!
It has helped me to recognize and improve on 4 character traits of failure "learning." Four traits I think we all need to be a successful leader and person. The 4 traits are initiative, optimism, responsibility, and resilience.
Initiative. This means to get started. The ability and courage to begin something even when you're fearful. When I was getting ready to start my first Ironman in Chattanooga I was nervous and fearful. I was fearful that something would go wrong. But I did it. I jumped in feet first, literally, and all fear went away. Sometimes we just need to get started to understand and know how much fun something can be or how good we will be at it.
Optimism. This is the second trait I have learned about. I do not just mean being positive and expecting the circumstances to change. I mean having realistic optimism. When I did Ironman Boulder I was deflated, out of gas, disappointed with the circumstances I was dealt. I did not let that control me. I kept a positive optimistic mindset, which helped me overcome the circumstances I was faced with.
Just like a leader we have to face our circumstances with realistic optimism. We cannot have a negative attitude because our team would feed on this. We take our circumstances, learn from them, and adjust with optimism that it will continue to get better if we just keep at it.
Responsibility. We have to take responsibility for our choices. We are the leaders. When I trained for the Ironmans I learned a lot about my body and nutrition. At first I did the same thing I always did. I ate what I wanted, drank when I wanted, but as training increased I was having difficulty finishing. I had to take responsibility for what I was putting in my body. When I accepted the responsibility I improved and have continued to improve. I have never been faster or felt better and I am not getting any younger.
Just as leaders, when we have failures, we have to accept and own the responsibility. If we do not, nothing will change, because we are not acknowledging or accepting that anything is wrong. We are just blaming something else. For better results and improvement towards change, accept responsibility.
Resilience. This is the last trait I learned. Just to finish an Ironman or any event will take resilience. This is because it will get difficult. We will get tired, we will just want it to be over, and we will think why am I doing this. It is easy to start but to finish we must overcome all that is thrown at us.
Every Ironman or marathon I did, I had thoughts of why am I doing this, what was I thinking. It was the realistic optimism that kept my mind in tact, and the fact that I accepted responsibility that when I start something, I will finish.
You see how that works? I used the 3 other traits to develop my resilience.
As leaders we must have resilience. Everyone and everything is depending on us to finish what we are leading everyone to. We cannot keep changing directions or quitting. We are required to produce results.
As an Ironman racer and runner, that was what I strive to do each race. I strive to beat myself and learn from my experience. I have continued to get faster and stronger because I show up each day, optimistic, accepting responsibility for my choices and with resilience to finish.
One thing I do know, You cannot win or learn if you do not start.