Great leaders possess many characteristics. Courage, foresight, perspective, and vision are just a few thoughts that come to mind when thinking about leaders. Leaders are not all-knowing, nor do they have to be right all the time. In fact, knowing everything is impossible, and being right all of the time simply means you haven’t tested the boundaries. Good leaders fail. Great leaders fail often.
It’s been said that “wisdom is the result of experience, but experience is often the result of lack of wisdom.” So where do the two intersect? People ask you for advice because they admire your wisdom. Job opportunities because of your wisdom. Yet if it weren’t for all your failures you’d have nothing to offer, you would lack wisdom. Great leaders possess this knowledge because they understand the importance of failure. They are able to see failures as deposits into their bank of wisdom, not withdrawals or setbacks.
Wisdom allows us to take chances. It allows us to predict outcomes. It enables us to maximize our chance for success but it does not guarantee our success. Wisdom gives us the courage we need to attempt something that carries the risk of failure but doesn’t prevent us from trying. Failure must be an option as we try new things and expand our horizons. Wisdom helps us see that what we gain from these failures often times outweighs succeeding on the first try.
So when confronted with a choice between a sure thing and one that presents potential failure, look first to your wisdom bank. Do an honest assessment of what you will gain versus what’s at risk if you chose to take the chance. Know that if you do take a chance and fail, you now have wisdom to share with others. It is this wisdom that increases the value of your insight, perspective, and experience. It is this wisdom that makes you unique. This is the wisdom that enriches you personally, and the wisdom that develops you as a leader.