Leadership Lesson

Of learning, failure and my perspective.

I was recently engaged in a heated debate on ‘learning’ and ‘failure’, and how failing in public is the mark of weakness in professional and social situations. For one’s own good, it was argued that it is best avoided to even talk about failures in public. A logical extension is that one avoids asking questions in order not to demonstrate ignorance. Since they do not ask questions. My argument was. Hence they learn lesser – and so the case goes.

Personally, I learn all the time from all types of people. I can not comment for others, but the more I learn, the more I know that I do not know much. I am never too old to learn or too young to ask questions.

Yes, we live in a society where asking questions means either ignorance or arrogance—but seldom associated with learning as a process.

We live in culture where failure is mocked upon. Failure is discouraged and hence people stop trying. One may not hold ‘failure as a badge of honour’ as the Silicon Valley adage goes, but not failing and hence not learning and that is a bigger dishonour.

As a life -long learner, who tries, who fails regularly and learn from those failures, I have no shame in saying if I am learning, I must be doing good. I make mistakes all the time, and I accept the mistakes and learn and try and become better.

I own my mistakes, and no one is responsible for my failures. No one else. Yes, it may be fashionable for larger than life leaders for whom projecting infallibility is a virtue. They do not accept a mistake and claim that never made a mistake, and they are the best and even blame everyone else but themselves for all the failures. Good for them. Their life choices. That is not me.

And I am happy I am not them. I fail, and therefore, I learn. And that makes me me.

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