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Don’t Believe It.  Leaders Are Afraid to Fail.

But they survive their self-criticism.

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Trendy leadership books and articles like to say that “The best leaders aren’t afraid to fail.”

What nonsense.

Successful leaders are definitely afraid to fail.  They spend a notable amount of time ensuring that they don’t.  In fact, for high-achieving leaders, anytime they come up short of their objective, that is failure.  And it stings.  The pain of coming up short (and we’re not even talking about failure) stings 20 times as bad as any success feels good.

So it’s natural to fear failure.

What successful leaders don’t do is they don’t continue to beat themselves up to eternity.  Are they angry at themselves?  Yes.  Do they go through the “If only I had done…”?  Certainly.  Does it haunt them a bit longer than it should?  Absolutely.

But the best are able to get over it.  Learn from it.  And then move on so they can perform better the next time they’re afraid to fail.

For a fascinating take on why self-criticism can be counterproductive, listen to this podcast from Hidden Brain.