Monday, July 8, 2013

Can struggle and failure lead to competitive advantage?

Found this interesting post from Lolly Daskal, "Failure: The Competitive Advantage." Lolly compares two leaders facing upheaval in their professional lives and the loss of their jobs. One was handling it poorly - the other was excitedly looking to the possibilities of the future. Here's how they differed:

The first leader—the one who was struggling—had up to this point lived a charmed life. A perfect childhood in a loving, stable home, the best schools, graduation from a top college followed by a great job obtained with his father’s assistance. He had married his college sweetheart and they had a beautiful family—adorable twins, a boy and girl—with a fantastic home and even a luxury vacation home.

The second leader came from a very different background. His parents had been divorced, and his childhood was often lonely. Money was scarce and he always had an after-school job. After graduation his only option for continuing his education was a city college, where he continued to work nights to put himself through. After graduation he got a good entry-level job and made his way quickly up the ladder through hard work and dedication, eventually becoming global leader of his business unit. He married a woman he had met at a soup kitchen, and they had two wonderful sons.

The thesis being that the trials experienced by the second leader prepared him better for the unstable environment of today than the easy successes of the first leader. As we know, struggle and failure produce grit, a trait which is hard to teach out of a book but which is a major component of long-term happiness and success.

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