On Leadership and Failure

Annah Elizabeth 2 Comments

This morning I’ve got Leadership on my mind.

Last year I applied to speak at a local TEDx event.

The TED organization, for those not familiar with them, is a group whose focus is centered around one central theme: “Ideas worth spreading.”

I’ve been following TED and TEDx (locally branded TED enthusiasts groups) speeches for nearly six years now.

One of my goals has been to take The Five Facets and what I’ve learned about healing to that stage.

There are so many walking wounded among us, so many with hearts that are breaking and emotions that are running errant through their lives.

What we ultimately want to know after Disaster, Death, or Destruction touch our lives is how we are ever going to survive.

Though there is no cookie cutter formula, what my work has discovered is the precious knowledge that each of us has what we need to mend ourselves, to grow through grief and to go on to live a life that is no longer held back by the fracas created by loss.

I believe with all my heart it meets TED’s criteria: It’s an idea worth spreading.

After a brief phone interview with my area’s speaker curator, I learned I hadn’t been accepted.

“Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of participation next year?” I asked.

I was told that my application had been stellar, but I might want to apply earlier and provide a clearer picture of what my presentation entailed.

Though I was disheartened, I recognized the truth in the response.

You see, Journeyers, I’d been thinking about that presentation since the group had formed in my area the year prior.

I couldn’t apply for the inauguration experience as we were to be in Europe on the day of the event.

But throughout the following twelve months, I plotted and planned and fretted over what I would say, how I should say it, and who I wanted to represent, my professional self or my personal side.

It was a quandary that I still hadn’t answered when I fired off the answers to their second year questions.

Clearly, that conflict came through.

So I vowed I’d be better prepared this year, that I’d hone in on my conflicts and resolve those niggling, nagging doubts within me.

I participated in a personal branding event.

I asked myself tough questions about what I wanted to do.

I spent time delving into The Five Facets, defining and developing them, and laying the foundation for the workshops and other speaking I’ve been envisioning for the past twenty-plus years.

I was invited to speak on a Radio program, where I ended up doing a two part piece, Understanding Loss, and subsequently, Understanding Healing.

I’ve been watching and waiting for the application announcements and finally, several weeks back, I inquired about the date.

Yesterday, the curator replied that they did their interviews last March and April.

Can you imagine how bummed I am, Journeyers?

There’s a part of my brain that wants to say, See, you’re not as smart as you think you are. See, you fucked up again. See, it’s not meant to be, this whole Five Facets thing. See, people have been saying that The Five Facets sounds droll and uninteresting…

I’m not going to listen to that naysayer.

Disappointed? Yes.

Frustrated? Absolutely.

Determined to take something positive from this and keep moving forward? You betcha!

I’m going to head into the direction of other opportunities, seek out other connections I’ve made and move forward.

One of those associations could be through HOBY, an organization that focuses on our future’s leaders.

Warren and I felt so blessed and honored when Big Guy’s school nominated him to represent them at last year’s Youth Leadership event.

As I listened to the organizer speak to parents and participants on that final day, I couldn’t help but think about the importance of knowing that leaders don’t have to be impervious to imperfection.

Hugh O’Brian, HOBY’s founder, speaks of affording our youth the “encouragement to recognize his or her own potential, regardless of background,” and poses the questions, “Will that person be satisfied merely to exist, or seek a meaningful purpose? Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream?”

For years I felt that my mistakes and my depression defined who I was.

And thus, though I dreamed the dream of helping others heal, I believed that thinking about it was where my dream had to end.

What I’ve discovered along the way is that leadership doesn’t mean we have to be SuperHuman and impervious to failure or illness.

Failure neither defines us nor prevents us from Doing, from living out our ambitions and being the person each of us aspires to be.

It’s an important message for us all, one I feel is especially essential for the young men and women of our future to hear, to give them some encouragement, something to fall back on should they ever fall victim to the same line of thinking…

John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

And Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

The way I see it, me and my Five Facets have many more chances and much work ahead of us…

Each of us has that potential, Journeyers, to be the best we can be, to lead the best way we know how…

For we are all leaders at some time or another in our lives, sometimes when we aren’t even aware we’re leading…

Hugs and healing, Journeyer…



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