You may have heard that the US mid-term elections just happened. If you haven’t heard about them, don’t worry. I will not be reviewing election results here. However, I do want to let you know that some candidates won and other candidates lost.
12 years ago, my name was on a ballot for the first time as I ran for a state legislative seat in South Carolina. I lost that election. I lost by 298 votes out of more than 14,000 votes cast. It really hurt to work so hard, yet not have things turnout the way that I wanted them to. It was a major setback. However, I refused to let myself get paralyzed by the results. I had to realize that the election was over. I had to focus on to what’s next.
One failure doesn’t define my future. It also shouldn’t define yours.
When you have a setback, don’t dwell on it. Recover from it, evaluate what you did wrong, learn from it, and then take action again. That’s the iteration process of leadership. It is essential to quality leadership that you try new methods and attempt thoughtful, creative solutions. Not every experiment will work. John Maxwell says, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” He never uses the word “lose” because failure is not about losing; it’s about learning. Improvise, adapt, overcome. If you have the right tools, the right information, and the proper motivation, you will succeed far more often than you fail. Through it all you must continue to act on your why with conviction.
Always remember Failure Doesn’t Define Your Future.
PS: If you are interested in reading in my insights on my approach to overcoming failure and mistakes, pick up a copy of The Presidential Principles. I discuss it in Chapter 7.