The Painful Road to a Leader’s Character Growth

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When does character growth in the life of a leader happen most often?

It’s during seasons of pain and discomfort.

As I’ve been retracing my own leadership journey I’ve realized that seasons of character growth have always been accompanied by a certain “wince” factor.

This is not to say you should seek out painful experiences. Rather, it’s a simple acknowledgement that if you are committed to seeing your character grow, you’d better anticipate some periods of discomfort. Because that’s where character growth takes place.

And since leadership growth is directly tied to character growth, this is something worth paying attention to.

Specifically, watch for character growth to take place in the wake of these pain-points

1.     When you’ve committed a leadership blunder

As I’ve written before leaders make mistakes. If you are a leader worth your salt, you will make mistakes as you venture out and try new things.

And let’s be honest; mistakes can be painful. They can cause us to wonder if we’ve lost the esteem of our colleagues. Mistakes can make us believe our value has been diminished among our followers.

These thoughts can cause considerable pain.

But if you respond with humility and a learning attitude it can enlarge your character.

2.     When you’ve made a decision that disappoints people

Let’s face it. Sometimes your decisions as a leader will let people down.

Some people will be upset with your decisions. Some will be more than upset; some people will be downright angry with the calls you make.

If that isn’t happening you’re playing it too safe.

Now, no one should ever enjoy feeling the wrath of those you’ve disappointed. That should sting a bit every time.

But that sting is telling you that your character is growing just a bit more.

3.     When you’ve let an opportunity pass you by.

Ever zigged when you should have zagged?

Ever let the “sure thing” slip through your grasp?

Sure you have. Every leader has let a golden opportunity get away.

And the feeling afterwards can be a hollow, gnawing pain in your gut.

But don’t wish that feeling away. Once again, if you process this with humility, this can be a wonderful opportunity for character growth.

No one welcomes pain. No one hopes for discomfort.

But with a heart of humility and a learning posture these moments can be a springboard into character growth.

And for leaders, that’s the ball game.

When have you seen your character grow the most?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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