Most people have a misperception about leadership. Almost all tend to believe that winning makes you a leader and to lose makes you… a loser. This misperception starts by ignoring the opposite idea of leadership. The first word that pops up in the mind of people is, of course, failure. However, the truth is that failures are not the opposite of leadership, and the proof is that all great leaders have lost many battles before reaching their great achievements. What is the antonym of leadership, then?
Well, to answer that question, we need to make another clarification. One of the big lies about success and, of course, leadership, is to think that winning is not the most important thing. Many people say that the most important thing is to try, to compete… not to win. But this thought is tricky because it leads you to believe that setting goals in your life is not important whatsoever, because you probably will never reach them… and the important thing is trying. Do you really want that? Think about it in these terms: You’ve worked hard on your job, and at the end of the month your boss only pays you one-fifth of your salary because he considers you have not done enough, but he tells you that winning is not important, only trying is… and encourages you for trying better.
I think you understand the point now. The opposite of success is not failing, but fear of not winning. If you never try anything new, if you don’t take risky decisions in the midst of problems (because you are afraid of having more trouble), you would have settled for your situation (which can be actually an awful situation) and you will never be victorious at all.
Of course, winning is important. We all have goals and hopes that encourage us to endure against the difficulties of life: why giving that up? Why do we have to settle? A leader fails, has failed and will certainly fail a lot… but he/she rises again. He/she learns from his/her mistakes, he/she makes everything as possible for not falling twice into the same ditch and has a lot of patience (which is, by the way, the main requirement of the will.)
That is the difference.
There is a popular Chinese fable that may enlighten you so much. The story says that a Buddhist master and his disciple, after walking miles and miles through the countryside, visited a poor village. They were received by the owner of the poorest of all the huts, and he fed his guests with yogurt, cheese, and bread with butter. He did not have much to offer, but the strict rules of hospitality forced him to receive his guests gladly. Everything that the host and his family had was an old cow they milked every morning. They woke up very early, they milked the cow for selling fresh milk at the local market, and, in exchange, they could buy some basic groceries.
The master thanked them, and the next day he and his disciple woke up very early, even before the host and his family. In front of his disciple, the master dragged the cow to a high cliff near the hut and pushed it with all his strength. The cow, of course, died on the spot. The disciple, horrified, nearly breaking his sacred bond with his master, asked why in the Earth he could be so cruel for doing so, but the old master told him to be patient because he was teaching them an important lesson.
The following year, the master and the young disciple went through the same place, but the hut was gone: instead, there was a beautiful log cabin, and several cows were grazing around. The same host went out to meet the Master and received him again. He told them that the old cow had fallen off a cliff and they were very scared at first, but it forced them to take decisions. They sold the meat of the cow and bought two calves. Meanwhile, the family had to find new jobs and pursue a livelihood by other means. The calves grew, multiplied, and the owner of the hut produced more milk and sold bulls for slaughter. In one year, they were not rich but lived much better than before.
Then the disciple made a bow to his Master and apologized for his doubts. He had learned an important lesson: In order to reach goals (whatever they are), you have to start thinking about what stops you from reaching them… and the next thing to do is pushing this obstacle off a cliff. The worst enemy of success is not a cow that falls and dies but to remain attached to the old cow.
One of the most important things to develop leadership skills –in any scenario–is finding your comfort zones and finding a way to pushing them away from your life. But this is not a simple task: we are usually attached to our comfort zones (emotionally), even if we know they are harmful to our development.
If you want to be a great leader in your company, start by watching yourself. Stop being afraid of failure. Push your cows by a cliff. Take a chance to perceive a new reality.
Recommended: Don’t Be Afraid of Failure