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Is it time to embrace the tough times?

How has your 2022 been so far? Ups and downs? A challenge? A slog?


Even if it’s been a successful and fulfilling year so far, it’s likely there to have included some tricky decisions, annoying mistakes, maybe even a couple of failures?

Chances are you’ve given yourself a hard time over those less than perfect decisions or actions. Great leaders get the big calls right. Great leaders keep their team on track.  Great leaders don’t make mistakes.

Or do great leaders actually reframe their challenges? Do great leaders realise that failure is the road to success and struggle can be embraced? Even shared?

It sounds more realistic, and it sounds more human.

The ‘fail fast’ mentality is nothing new – especially when it comes to idea generation, innovation and problem solving. But away from Instagram-worthy growth hacks, what about the day-to-day challenges?

In her book Struggle, Grace Marshall is a cheerleader for tough times. She wants us to embrace failure and life’s sh*ttier moments.

As Grace puts it: What if struggle is precisely where the magic happens – where we do our best, most important work?

Failure is necessary

In a famous example of triumph over adversity, Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb before the ultimate lightbulb moment hit. But rather than being the poster boy for persistence, we should see the toil and the struggle as the magic.

As Grace puts it:

“You see our brains are lazy. We are biased to the familiar. Given the choice, we often stick to what we know. Until things go wrong, the temptation to keep doing what’s still working is too strong a pull.”

Struggle should be celebrated

It sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? We’re encouraged to be perfectionists and to avoid showing weakness – to our team, our peers and our competitors. But Grace encourages us to ‘find opportunity in life’s sh*ttier moments’ and normalise making mistakes.

We’re conditioned to think that mistakes mean punishment. That’s why we avoid them but as Grace points out ‘the scientist in the lab knows that when something unpredictable happens that things get really interesting.’

So rather than retreating in the face of the unexpected. The things that get in the way and interrupt our plans. The things we get a bit wrong and force us to rethink. Can we reframe them, acknowledge them, and maybe even reframe them?

Then as Grace says:

“What we see as a place of potential rejection turns out to be a place of connection. Of gratitude. Of community.”