One of my favorite quotes is “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” It reminds me that every situation is an opportunity to grow – even in failure. This week has been an interesting week of reflection and questioning. I was so thankful to participate in the #PowerofPositiveSummit hosted by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11). Each day the presenters filled my cup with positivity and opportunities for me to grow as a leader. In my reflection, I kept hearing the question, “What do you do in the face of setback, failure, and doubt?” I’d had a similar conversation with some aspiring leaders over the weekend. How do you comeback from disappointment? How do I deal with obstacles and fail forward? These questions weighed heavily on my mind.

Then the motivation for this post arrived right on time.

Side Note: Did I mention I love my PLN? Being a connected educator rocks!

Last week in my Women in Educational Leadership Voxer group (#WELVoxer), Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) asked a great discussion question about whether or not we should tell our own stories or allow someone else to tell them for us. Ashley Mcbride (@plusteched) said something that stuck with me. She said that there is a place for telling our own success stories but there’s also a place for telling about the journey- the struggle before the eminent success. Inspired by her honesty, I committed to writing this post.

The Struggle – Fail Forward

I am an aspiring principal. I recognize the responsibility, the promise, and the hope inherent in that title, “principal.” I live, breathe, eat, and sleep leadership. It’s my passion and my calling. However, after many interviews, I am still aspiring. Knowing that your time will come and living in the intersession are two hard realities.

When you know and have heard:

  • “The right school at the right time will come along. Be patient.”
  • “Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 20.”  
  • “Lead where you are. It’s preparation for what’s ahead.”
  • “Watch, listen, and learn. The lessons learned now are free.”

Knowing, listening, and internalizing this sage advice does not soften the emotional blow that again, this wasn’t the opportunity. Having to share with my family that “this wasn’t the one” is never easy. After each interview, I reflect with painstaking care and begin preparation because that’s what I do in the face of an obstacle. I reflect, plan, and prepare. I get back on the grind. I pick up a new book. Learn a new idea or strategy from YouTube. Connect with other leaders on Twitter. I use the disappointment to fuel my comeback. I refuse to allow “quit” in my vocabulary. Even in my lowest moment, I know I’ve been destined to do this work- to help kids win, to help students and teachers embrace their genius and greatness.  Eric Thomas (@EricThomasBTC) said in one of his “Thank God It’s Monday” YouTube videos that “You should let the word ‘no’ excite you!” I’ve been disappointed and dejected and excitement was the furthest feeling.

Over the years, I developed a grittiness. It comes from a belief that I impact my future. There is no point complaining or wallowing in rejection and disappointment. Success and opportunity belong to those who are willing to work for it. My actions, words, belief, and attitude help to shape my future. “No” is just another opportunity to learn and become better. I refuse to let “no” be the end of my journey or my dream.

How do you come back from disappointment and fail forward?

Who inspires you? Who motivates you?

What beliefs keep you connected to your vision and goal?

I’d love for us to lead, learn, and grow together by connecting through comments.

“The world is waiting on your greatness. Be Great Today”  @lmkinard