Exceptional leaders never confuse their failures with their identities.
They are kind of like the old donkey that I heard about that fell in the well. The old farmer saw that the well was too deep and knew that the donkey was old and not worth much, so he decided to just bury the beast right there in the well. So he started shoveling. But to his amazement, the old donkey would see that load of dirt coming his way and he would just shake it off, and step up, shake it off and step up, until he climbed right out of that well.
Likewise, exceptional leaders know that life and leadership is full of obstacles and challenges. They know they will make mistakes. One of this country’s most exceptional leaders was General George Washington. During the Revolutionary War against the British for American freedom he faced a stronger and more experienced army, was under-resourced by those that sent him into war, faced the desertion of his troops and the ridicule of his countrymen. As discouraging as that must have been, he didn’t let those setbacks defeat him. He and his troops believed in the cause of freedom so much that they rose up again and again, against the greatest of odds. By shear determination and the grace of God they won the critical battles that determined the final outcome of the war and established America as the first nation to be born based on a belief in freedom and justice for all, a belief that all men are created equal, and a belief that a nation founded on the rule of law rather than the law of men would be a unique nation. via George Leckie, in George Washington’s War.
It was Abraham Lincoln, another exceptional leader, who is legendary for overcoming his numerous failures, financial and personal setbacks and political defeats to become the most remembered and respected presidents in U.S. history, credited for the abolition of slavery and keeping these United States from dividing in two.
I could go on and on with similar stories. The point is that the only failure that is fatal is the one that you let keep you down.