by Tim Parsons

I’m not sure about you, but I am a life-long learner.  I’m not sure where I picked it up or inherited it from, but I am constantly looking for more information on how to lead better.  I read books and blogs, I attend conferences, and I meet and talk with other leaders who can teach me new things.

And although all of those will help me grow, it seems as though the growth I see from it is incremental.  It’s small.  It takes a long time to get good at the principles I learn and it can even have no real, immediate impact on my leadership.

But, there’s one way that I’ve found that almost always leads to growth in leadership.  One way that often has an immediate and lasting impact on the way that I lead.  The downsize, though, is that it’s unfortunate.  It’s not easy. It can lead me to want to walk away from it all and question my ability as a leader altogether.

What is it? PAIN.

The pain of leadership hurts.  The pain of leadership can hit you right where it hurts the worst.  The pain of leadership can break you and knock the wind out of you.  The pain of leadership is not for the faint of heart.

Think back to the last time you felt pain in your leadership.  Perhaps it was a time where someone misunderstood something you said and they were deeply offended.  Or, a new initiative that you were excited about completely flopped. Maybe a time when you let someone down – an employee, a peer, your spouse, a customer.

In each of those painful leadership moments, there’s an opportunity to grow as a leader…if you’ll allow it.  Sure, you can dismiss it quickly or you can even run from it like the plague.  But, I think there’s something there for you and you should find it.

And here’s the point of it all, I have found time and time again that every time I’ve let someone down, made a mistake, failed miserably, or experienced any kind of pain in leadership, I’ve not only grown from that experience, but the growth has been lasting, quick, and meaningful.  I would say that learning from the pain of leadership is better than any college degree.

The next time that you experience the pain of leadership, which path will you choose – run from it or grow from it?  The choice is really yours.  I want to encourage you to find the growth that comes from this very unfortunate part of leadership.


Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.