Date Added: August 2012
Note: This article appeared in the August 1, 2012 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.
While we may not admit it, we all make mistakes, I've been mentored by numerous individuals, yet the best wisdom gained is from my own mistakes or others sharing their mistakes.
Getting asked about mistakes is a common job interview question as organizations want to know what mistakes you made and if you learned from them. In my mid-20's and with a chip on my shoulder, I was asked about my largest mistake. Being too fearful to admit any mistakes and too arrogant to believe I made any, my response was, "I haven't made any." Not surprisingly, I didn't get the job.
Upon reflection, while I have made many mistakes, none were terrible because I invested so much effort to control situations, avoiding major mistakes. By controlling situations and avoiding mistakes, I didn't gain wisdom. Wisdom must be proactively sought.
Those seeking wisdom gain fulfillment. Fulfillment is a word some may struggle with because it's difficult to describe. It is a feeling you define. Happiness has been suggested; although I can be happy and not be fulfilled. Yet, if I'm fulfilled, I'm happy.
By gaining fulfillment, you offer more to others. When giving to others, you have room to receive more wisdom. You benefit personally, professionally, with family and in our community. This is how good leaders become great leaders, and good organizations become better. They seek wisdom and achieve fulfillment.
Leaders who don’t seek wisdom (or try to control situations and avoid mistakes like I did) cannot become great leaders. They can only be good – not great – leaders. When I allowed situations to naturally occur vs. trying to control them; I made more mistakes. With this came more positive results from gaining wisdom, thereby becoming a stronger leader. The same is true with organizations resting on their laurels instead of pursuing to continuously improve. Lack of wisdom equates to lack of organizational soul.
Fulfillment in business and life is about the journey to seek wisdom and achieve fulfillment. Gaining wisdom from mistakes helps replenish us. Once discovering wisdom; listen closely, ask for more, and act on it.