A Harsh Lesson that Made Me a Better Leader

If you take your career seriously at any level, no doubt, most everyone will face certain struggles and challenges. Hopefully, there will be opportunities to experience personal fulfillment and success on your path. For some, it may not come easily or ever at all. Although the landscape has changed positively over the years, a commitment to diversity and inclusion must continue to be at the forefront to overcome adversity that stills exists in today’s workplace.

As a young girl, I experienced what seemed like an exceptional opportunity extended to me by my teacher. However, it turned into what was considered a dreadful failure on my part. It had the potential for undermining my self-confidence in the future.

Although I was only in the second grade, my teacher assigned a special project to me: Read a book and write a stage play for the entire school in just a few weeks. All of my classmates and many other students would participate in this theatrical production. I was certainly appreciative and quite flattered by this challenge.

What was the teacher’s motivation? Did my teacher see something special in me that I didn’t know about yet? Was I destined to be a notable playwright? Or was there another unforeseen message that would spark my personal fortitude and courage, expose failure, and provide a path to overcoming adversity and obstacles as a woman in the workplace. For this, I am forever grateful.

Unfortunately, I struggled with the project and didn’t know the first thing about writing a play. My teacher asked a few times how it was progressing, but no guidance was offered. I was too embarrassed to ask for direction. It was a grave disappointment to my teacher and a harsh lesson for me when I failed to produce. I was not allowed to participate in the performance. In fact, I was required to sit in the front row alone for others to witness failure. All of the students watched the play now written by my teacher.

Although this situation would serve as one of life’s raw lessons, it provided me with new ways of thinking, personal motivation, and always striving to do my best. With a rewarding long-term career, and now as a business owner, I encourage those who will listen to take inspiration from others, ask for guidance, become a mentor and role model, work hard, be resourceful and respectful, go the distance, and empower others by giving them a chance to succeed and providing them with the tools and guidance to do just that!