I failed the other day. In fact, I will probably fail at something again this week. Failure is not something to be embarrassed or scared about. We all fail at something, and in many cases – often. We are human. We cannot be perfect in every aspect of our lives. Some of the greatest lessons in my life have come not from succeeding, but in accepting a new challenge. That is why I work diligently to embrace moments of failure and use them as a learning experience to push me forward. In the words of poet William F. O’Brien, “I’d rather try and fail, than never try at all, you see.”
Fearing failure is something all of us have struggled with in some aspect of our lives. Consider glossophobia – or a fear public speaking. The National Institute of Mental Health says 73% of people have some level of anxiety or fear around public speaking.
I have also experienced moments of worry surrounding this. Putting yourself before a crowd of peers is daunting, whether you have done it once or hundreds of times. However, I continue to do it because I want to grow as a person and in my profession. It challenges me in unique ways as a subject matter expert, whether presenting as a moderator, or a panelist. These situations extend me outside of my comfort zone. In agreeing to do them, I have learned they are valuable opportunities to share my knowledge with others. Through these engagements I have met new industry influencers and built relationships that never would have happened otherwise. The insightful conversations about the markets and trends impacting real estate also deepen my understanding of our industry.
Some people also shy away from taking on major leadership roles for a variety of reasons. Governing in a thoughtful, innovative and forward-thinking way is challenging. In addition to the roles I play now as Executive Vice President at Kidder Mathews and Global President of SIOR, I have also served as CEO of Heger Industrial and President of R3 Investment Group to name a few.
When these leadership opportunities developed for me, I have always done my very best to take advantage of them, whether in my direct business or through volunteerism. Each presented new interactions, obstacles to overcome, and corresponding strategic initiatives requiring implementation. These roles have stretched my thinking and opened my eyes to other factors I would have normally missed. They introduced me to new people, helped me make connections, and expanded my way of thinking. Along the way I have also grown, learning the best path to developing as a leader is through maintaining a service-oriented mindset, helping others to advance and achieve their goals.
While far from perfect at public speaking or leadership, I take the chance knowing there will be risk. However, in the process, there are also limitless possibilities. In failing comes opportunity for development from lessons learned. From each public speaking event, I know what to avoid or work on in the future. Through leadership challenges, I have discovered new approaches to problems and how to address similar issues in the future.
So, I say embrace the fear of failure. If it makes you uncomfortable, lean forward and capitalize on that new encounter. Rejoice in the challenge. If you do fail, do not allow it to be your shackles. Learn from the mistake and try again. Don’t allow fear to steal your future and opportunity for irreplaceable, personal and professional growth.