People are prideful. While there are some who are more humble than others, everybody has an ego that likes to be fed-frequently. With these egos that we have, it has proven to be very difficult to admit that we have made a mistake. Not only is it hard to admit, but it’s hard to move on and learn from that mistake, and turn it into a positive, learning experience. Throughout history, though, people have shown that it’s possible to learn from mistakes, instead of running away from them.
I was always taught that there are three kinds of people. There’s the fool, who makes mistakes, doesn’t learn from them and keeps making the same errors. Then we have an intelligent person, who makes mistakes but learns from them and doesn’t commit them anymore. And to round things off, we have the wise person. The wise person learns from the mistakes of others. Some of the smartest and best leaders of all time weren’t considered “wise” according to this teaching. Many of them made mistakes and were forced to learn from them. Here are some examples of leaders who learned from their mistakes, instead of running away from them:
“The Wizard of Menlo Park” was Edison’s nickname. He is arguably the greatest and most influential inventor of all-time, and he made more than his fair share of mistakes. Luckily for him and for all of us, he learned from those mistakes and gave us a great example of how to overcome our so called “failures”. Edison has many famous, inspirational quotes on the matter. Some of the most recognizable are, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward,” and “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.” Edison is a classic example of a man who made plenty of mistakes, learned from them, and still had an enormous impact on history and society.
American Military Leaders
During World War I, American military leaders, as well as the leaders of other allied nations, were set on ruining Germany. The allies plundered Germany, destroyed the economy and made the German people hate the allies. After Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power in World War II, the allies had learned their lesson. Following the allied victory of the war, instead of ruining Germany even more than they had already done, Britain, France and the U.S. occupied Germany and spent significant amounts of money in order to rebuild it. This was all a part of the Marshall Plan. The allied leaders had seen what happened post World War I and the hatred that it created, they then created a plan so that it wouldn’t happen again.
There are many things that we can do in order to continue developing leadership skills. One of those things is to seek out our mistakes, learn to find the good that comes from them and turn them into positives. Running from your mistakes won’t accomplish anything. It will hurt to know that you did something wrong, but it will also make your life more negative. Once you learn to turn negatives into positives, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better leader, and having a better impact on your community and society.