Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Moving past success-failure thinking

In chapter 5 of Reggie McNeal's book Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders, he talks about learning from our mistakes. On p. 118 he discusses the need to move past "success-failure thinking." He says...
Let's face it. You will blow some decisions. That goes with the territory of being a leader. You will need to challenge some very pervasive ideas and adopt some key stances to enable your leadership to grow through mistakes.

The truth is, life is not neat or compartmentalized. Successes can come with downsides. Failures may, and often do, carry in them the seeds of success. It is better to view leadership triumphs and tragedies along a continuum. While certain events fall closer to one pole than the other, the leadership saga goes on. It is better to talk in terms of direction rather than static categories. You are not a success or a failure. The jury is still out. The verdict is not yet in. The outcome depends on you.

On the next page he says...
One of the key psychological and developmental stages for spiritual leaders is to separate their personal identity from their ministry -- a state that is known as self-differentiation. Many leaders seem unable to achieve this. They so identify with their ministry organization that they see it as an extension of themselves. While it is true that our ministries reflect our personalities, our priorities, our personal passions, it is not healthy to see ourselves completely tied up in the organization's performance. It is not healthy for leaders to view every failure in an organization as a personal failure.