When Al Gore gave his concession speech on the night of the 13th of December 2000 he gave voice to the hope he foresaw in not becoming President of the United States of America:
"..no matter how hard the loss, defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out...".
I had this quote on the wall at work back in 2001. My then manager, having read the quote, said to me "why would you want that on your wall, it's so negative?"
But I didn't, and don't, see it that way. Defeat and loss are normal - they are a part of every single day of our lives.
We are defeated in our touch footy match, or at netball on a Wednesday night. We lose business to competitors. We attend funerals and say farewell to loved ones. Our children lose their innocence and our parents lose their minds. We suffer defeats on the battle grounds of wars and conflicts. We are unsuccessful in being promoted or miss out on a pay rise.
These are not events of rarity. These are events of reality. Loss & defeat are normal, regular parts of our lives. And yet, loss & defeat are too often ignored, or offered as reasons for shame and blame.
Exercising leadership, though, is about facing into loss & defeat. Exercising leadership is about welcoming defeat & loss when it occurs. Exercising leadership is acknowledging that loss & defeat WILL happen. Exercising leadership is about preparing your people for this inevitability and showing them the way to learn & develop from the lessons in the defeat. It is, as Gore said, an opportunity to reflect and look within for the strengths & positives to shine out.
Contrary to what many business & political 'leaders' espouse, failure IS an option. Indeed, it's a reality. Deny this is a failure in leadership.