Learning to apply leadership skills is a process of trial and error.
Each week, I have a special meeting with my children that always excites and energizes them. We call it our “Failure Meeting.” Each family member in turn gets to announce a failure they’ve experienced during the week. The kids all excitedly announce something they’ve tried and failed at. Then, my wife and I each describe something we failed at that week. Each meeting seems to generate enthusiasm and motivation for everyone in the family. Failure has become our favorite word. Why? Because we respect that learning anything worthwhile is a process and failure is a necessary and educational part of that process.
Learning leadership is no different. Concepts are learned and applied through trial and error. Learning leadership is an ongoing process with new skills learned and refined over time, not in a single day. Those willing to put forth the effort, time, and work to develop these skills are the individuals who will experience the rewards that come with it. Indeed, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. It's been said that Thomas Edison quipped when asked about his thousands of ‘failures’: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I don't know if that's true, but the sentiment is beautiful.
As you study leadership concepts it’s important to ‘test’ them out yourself. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell observed 21 leadership laws, but he also recognized that each individual leader is quite different. Your own leadership style will dictate how to apply those laws in relationships with your followers. Testing the concepts is critical.
In our failure meetings, after each person announces their failure they then must come up with something they would do different next time they attempt whatever task it was they failed at. A new method, strategy or behavior that might change the outcome. We follow up in a later meeting to discuss how the change went. And what if that new method, strategy or behavior doesn’t work? They refine it again and again if necessary. Success becomes inevitable.
Learning leadership is a process. It will take a great deal of feedback (failure) to become the leader you wish to be. Don’t give up! Look for new ways and press forward. Always keep an open mind to learning new things and don’t fear the process.