Monday, August 29, 2011

Mistakes....Not Failures

The Hall of Fame UCLA Men's Basketball Coach, John Wooden used to say, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. If you prepare properly, you may be outscored but you will never lose." In my short tenure as a teacher, coach and adviser, I have come to recognize a majority of student leaders are easily defeated. Too often plans or performances do not go as expected and the all too common reaction is an overwhelming sense of failure. No big deal, right? NO! It IS a big deal. What happens all too often is this failure turns into defeat, an act of submission by one's will to discontinue his or her efforts towards improvement. In other words, defeat leads one to quit.

John Wooden would also add to this quote by stating how he would not fail BUT he would make mistakes. His perspective on failures resulting in seeing failures as setbacks and opportunities to learn and improve. We've heard this before and maybe too much in that the truthfulness of this perspective has lost its influence on our motivation and will to live and succeed.

The difference between leaders who fail and succeed comes down to how each handles failure. Many great leaders, as John Wooden has stated, assumes and accepts failure will happen. The difference in those who become great and accomplish greatness is they understand failure is NOT the same as defeat. See failures as a means of growth and necessary to develop one's character, vision and leadership.

Look back at your last defeat. Was it as crippling as you felt at the time? How could a different perspective on failure lead to a new sense of improvement?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leadership Attributes

What do GREAT leaders do differently from the average person that make them great or influential? This all important question is necessary to answer to start the journey of developing into an influential leader. As I reflected on my own answer to this question, a few people came to mind, one in particular, my High School Cross Country Coach...

Former College All-American, he was everything I idolized as an athlete. Successful, popular, likeable, and the list goes on. What made him stand out among the other leaders and mentors in my life? He connected with me. He connected with people. He connected with EVERYONE. And, he connected with people through a genuine, sincere spirit. People trust him including myself. Little did I know at the time how much my life would be different now as a result of his influence on my life!

Finishing an eight mile run around Lake Geode, I was exhausted and extremely frustrated with a teammate of mine (underclassman) for taking a short cut to beat me. I was furious. However, how my Coach handled this taught me an important lesson. He simply asked me, "Well, you can't change him or the circumstances, what could you change? As a team leader, how are you going to handle this?" I soon realized I had a lot to learn.

Following the season, I continued to meet with this Coach of mine on a weekly basis into the first half of my first year of college. Those times forever shaped my faith and beliefs about leadership.

What made him so influential in my life? Here are a few things of his character that reveals the virtue in which my life (as well as others) were influenced:
1. He genuinely cared
2. Relationships were more important than winning
3. Consistent - there were no surprises to how he dealt with issues of life
4. Communication - he listened before he spoke
5. Priorities - it became obvious he lived his life with the most important people in mind first

Before you desire to influence others, how have you been influenced to become the leader you are aspiring to be now?