How have you become the leader you are today? Your leadership has been shaped by the lessons you have learned in the past.
And when a particularly tough challenge throws you to the mat, this can be when you become the strongest.
But why is it when we fall flat on our backs that we are embarrassed and try to conceal this?
We are doing ourselves and others a disservice when we do so.
The philosophy of Kintsugi is to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than a failure or flaw that should be disguised.
The story of how Kintsugi was born is that a 15th century ruler once broke a rare and favorite bowl. Because of the history it represented to him, he sent it far away for repairs. When the bowl was returned, it was in poor shape, cobbled together with large and unsightly staples. The accompanying message said that the bowl was irreparable.
Because he valued the bowl so highly, the ruler was willing to accept this verdict. He then sought someone who could take new, creative measures to restore it.
The result was Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is the ancient art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted with gold, silver, or platinum.
Instead of hiding the breaks, it highlights them with one of these beautiful metals to embrace cracks and repairs as simply part of the object’s journey, rather than to consider that breakage ends its service.
What does this mean for your leadership?
You certainly haven’t thrown in the towel because you have met some difficult challenges. However, many of us in leadership may treat these moments as non-events in an effort to appear strong and unflawed.
This is a disservice.
To feign perfection in an effort to appear strong can discount growing from your experience.
Moreover, those around you need to understand that developing their own leadership means recognizing failures as valuable points of learning that make them even stronger.
If you aren’t confident enough to talk about the history behind some of your cracks and breakages, and to reframe these as part of the leader journey, then you are robbing others of their own valuable growth opportunities.
How can you begin to turn past bumps in the road into marks of beauty in your leadership?
Think back on a particular instance and ask yourself the following questions:
- What did you learn from having encountered this difficulty?
- What was the hidden “gold” in the failure?
- How have you used this since – and how has it made you a stronger leader?
By reframing past failures as points of learning, you can now recognize these as part of the beauty of your leadership. And you provide inspiration and hope for those who are following behind.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.