I like to think that I was born to be a leader, but looking back on my past, I’m afraid that’s just not the case. There was a time when I was unable to step up to the plate. It took a couple of kicks in the pants, but through it, I learned valuable lessons that have continued to help me become a better leader and a more successful person.
It may have taken a while for me to accept the fact that I was not in complete control of my life, but once I grasped that, I saw that I actually had more control over it than I had first believed. I knew this: I was a capable leader who had experienced a lot of ups and downs, and I was eager to share my ideas and to help other people rise up, too.
I want to stress this: It is important that you teach yourself how to see the events in your life as lessons, not simply as blessings or curses. Everything—every success, every failure—has its purpose whether you can see it immediately or not. Some of the best lessons I’ve ever learned came long after an event took place, and had I not been willing and able to recognize them, I might not know my success today as co-founder of Wild Creations.
Here are three of the most priceless:
1. Everyone makes mistakes.
I used to be afraid of my inability to be perfect. But I became more comfortable in my own skin knowing mistakes are normal—necessary. This realization, that I didn’t have to be flawless, made it a lot easier for me to step up into a leadership role. I was also able to value those who served under me, seeing their mistakes as mirrors of my own.
My perspective flipped. Instead of instantly feeling defeated and shutting down, I repeatedly restructured my approach until I got it right. Eventually I was able to channel my respect for imperfection into a self-perpetuating system of groundbreaking trial, acceptable error and noticeable optimization.
2. To keep a level head is a virtue.
There were plenty of times when I was more than ready to throw in the towel. After all, being a leader is a big responsibility and setbacks can be extremely frustrating—and, at first, I wasn’t able to accept defeat. I got frustrated instead, losing my cool at the first sign of failure.
But, after a few spills, I learned to keep in mind that there really is a solution to everything and that every event, good or bad, has a beneficial lesson attached. So, knowing these things, I was able to re-collect my thoughts, find the underlying issues causing the problems and nip them in the bud. Eventually my irritation and angst subsided, and I gained more confidence in my leadership capabilities with every solved problem.
3. Time and humility are co-founders of success.
As much as I wanted it to, my success did not happen overnight. It took hard work, patience, determination and vision—and it took a long time. I was a follower for longer than I was a leader, but I used that time wisely to gobble up as many lessons as I could.
And I know now that being a leader sometimes means taking the backseat. In fact, some of my best discoveries have been made by allowing someone else to take the reins.
I can now say, with confidence, that leadership is my calling. I know how to read people because I have been through hard times myself. I am able to stay calm in a crisis because I have learned how to sort out the details and fix the problem from the ground up. Moreover, I have humbled myself to the fact that I cannot make miracles happen instantly, and that I will have more success as a leader if I never act like a horrible boss.
Why am I sharing these life lessons with you? Because that’s what a good leader does.