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Senior Correspondent

Your failure-to-success journey is the most interesting thing about you. All successful leaders stumble, fall, and climb out of the ash heap only to be better for it. Flaunt it; don’t hide it. Facades cripple leadership.

Success coupled with frailty is beautifully inviting.

Your transformations represent your greatest ability to transform others. Don’t tell me about arriving; tell me about the journey.

“Leaders are defined, not defeated, by setbacks.”
Alyse Nelson

Setbacks are opportunities for clarity, humility, growth, and wisdom; faced well, they strengthen resolve. I asked Alyse Nelson, author of Vital Voices, about her own setbacks,

“It was hard for me to ask for help. I didn’t realize how much help I needed to start Vital Voices (The organization not the book). I was only twenty-six years old.”

I didn’t ask her about it, but I felt a coming to the end of the rope behind her comment. The end of the rope is life’s turning point.

“So what did you learn? I asked.”

Alyse said, “The turning point in my leadership came when I overcame the need to prove myself. Today, I care more about the success of Vital Voices than my own success.”

The greater our need to prove ourselves
the more reluctant we are to ask for help.

Nelson’s lessons from the end of the rope:

  1. Admit what you don’t know.
  2. Seek people who can help.
  3. Hire highly competent people.

Still more:

Alyse said, “I was very fortunate to have a strong group of mentors in my life.” She explained how her mentors encouraged her to take risks and stuck with her during setbacks.

While she talked, I thought about the power of standing with people during their struggle rather than retreating to safety. It’s easy to stand with winners. It takes courage, character, and compassion to stand with someone during their dark days.

Bonus: Read and add your comments to “The common mistakes of young leaders ______.” on my Facebook page.

What lessons have you learned from the end of the rope?

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