I like to think that I was born to be a leader, but looking back on my past, I'm afraid that's just not the case. There was a time when I was unable to step up to the plate. It took a couple of kicks in the pants, but through it, I learned valuable lessons that have continued to help me become a better leader and a more successful person.
It may have taken a while for me to accept the fact that I was not in complete control of my life, but once I grasped that, I saw that I actually had more control over it than I had first believed. I knew this: I was a capable leader who had experienced a lot of ups and downs, and I was eager to share my ideas and to help other people rise up, too.
I want to stress this: It is important that you teach yourself how to see the events in your life as lessons, not simply as blessings or curses. Everything--every success, every failure--has its purpose whether you can see it immediately or not. Some of the best lessons I've ever learned came long after an event took place, and had I not been willing and able to recognize them, I might not know my success today as co-founder of Wild Creations.
Here are three of the most priceless:
1. Everyone makes mistakes.
I used to be afraid of my inability to be perfect. But I became more comfortable in my own skin knowing mistakes are normal--necessary. This realization, that I didn't have to be flawless, made it a lot easier for me to step up into a leadership role. I was also able to value those who served under me, seeing their mistakes as mirrors of my own.
My perspective flipped. Instead of instantly feeling defeated and shutting down, I repeatedly restructured my approach until I got it right. Eventually I was able to channel my respect for imperfection into a self-perpetuating system of groundbreaking trial, acceptable error and noticeable optimization.
2. To keep a level head is a virtue.
There were plenty of times when I was more than ready to throw in the towel. After all, being a leader is a big responsibility and setbacks can be extremely frustrating--and, at first, I wasn't able to accept defeat. I got frustrated instead, losing my cool at the first sign of failure.
But, after a few spills, I learned to keep in mind that there really is a solution to everything and that every event, good or bad, has a beneficial lesson attached. So, knowing these things, I was able to re-collect my thoughts, find the underlying issues causing the problems and nip them in the bud. Eventually my irritation and angst subsided, and I gained more confidence in my leadership capabilities with every solved problem.
3. Time and humility are co-founders of success.
As much as I wanted it to, my success did not happen overnight. It took hard work, patience, determination and vision--and it took a long time. I was a follower for longer than I was a leader, but I used that time wisely to gobble up as many lessons as I could.
And I know now that being a leader sometimes means taking the backseat. In fact, some of my best discoveries have been made by allowing someone else to take the reins.
I can now say, with confidence, that leadership is my calling. I know how to read people because I have been through hard times myself. I am able to stay calm in a crisis because I have learned how to sort out the details and fix the problem from the ground up. Moreover, I have humbled myself to the fact that I cannot make miracles happen instantly, and that I will have more success as a leader if I never act like a horrible boss.
Why am I sharing these life lessons with you? Because that's what a good leader does.
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