Failure. It’s a word that conjures up negative imagery of times when we’ve let others down, when products or services didn’t work, when we were unable to get a conversation started or resolve conflict. And yet without experiencing failure there’s no opportunity to learn and make intelligent choices in the future.

This video is a great example of how even the most influential leaders in a number of industries continually failed; and were told they couldn’t succeed by peers and thought leaders at different stages of their own careers.

Yet they looked at such set backs as an opportunity; learning from past failures; and creating experiences in their respective industries that have influenced actors, artists, leaders, athletes, and musicians for decades!

In Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent publication “Outliers” he notes that in order to be considered a true expert in any arena individuals need an enormous amount of devoted study and practice:

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert – in anything…In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you this number comes up again and again. Of course that doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplised in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

So why are we so quick to associate ourselves with the tag line of “expert” when so much of what we are creating has never been attempted – on the web or in the new ways we are connecting with people in every corner of the globe.

Our collective inability to communicate is probably the single greatest failure for which we all need to be accountable. We are all overwhelmed with information, priorities, deadlines, schedules to keep; it’s no wonder we’re failing more often at tasks that were once easily accomplished with little to no stress.

Claude Monet used the same painting of the Rouen Cathedral to study the effect light and shadow has on the representation of any object during different times of the day.

Monet would sketch relentlessly before creating the hard lines that allowed him to see the final image. (charcoal sketch of the face below left).

I’ve always had a passion for art; from my earliest days in high school and continuing that interest into university where I took almost all of my electives in art history, painting, and figure drawing. (example of one of my sketches).

Click on images to see greater detail…

I love using art as a metaphor because it allows me to show others how every pencil stroke leads to the final result. It wasn’t done in a few lines or a couple of attempts. It took months of studying, learning how to see each object with my minds’ eye, being able to dissociate preconceived ideas about how an object should be formed – whether it was a figure, building, flower, etc. into its actual state.

The world has changed. Even the most commonly understood terms such as ROI are being challenged in the Information Age. People are struggling to find value in their own careers as companies and governments around the world cling to business practices that no longer work.

Become the leader we all long for by stepping up and sharing experiences and times when we failed to accomplish our own goals!