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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Leadership Principles: Make Failure Your Friend

We have two more days of leadership principles that I want to share with you. I learned these while playing under Coach Dean Smith at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coach Smith would regularly tell us, “Make failure your friend.” He knew that we would only be failures if, after messing up, we never tried again. This is especially true in our culture when so many practice what is called “cancel culture”. It is so destructive and is creating a world where even the hint of a mistake becomes a source of fear instead of an invitation to something better. Before succeeding, Thomas Edison tried multiple times to invent the light bulb. He failed over and over. He purportedly kept saying, “Now I know many ways not to do it.” Coach Smith lost many, many games before finally succeeding. As previously noted, he was hung in effigy by the student body – twice! But he never gave up. He persisted time and time again. Jesus emphasized the importance of persistence in Luke 18:1, encouraging his followers to not lose heart and always pray. He knew that persistence in prayer would yield results. Friends, failure is not the end of the game. Furthermore, someone else’s label of you being a failure is not the end of the game. These are simple pathways to success and learning. Leaders, how are you doing with failure? Is it destructive for you or a learning mechanism to make you better? Does it send you to a place of despair where you feel paralyzed? Or do you use it to grow? Learn from Coach Smith. And I believe you will see tremendous victory as you continually learn to make failure your friend. Our Leadership Principles blog series is inspired by David's book "It's How You Play the Game: The 12 Leadership Principles of Dean Smith." If you would like to receive this book, please go here.

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