Failures are like street-savvy mentors

Can you name your mentors?

Sure you can.

Your mentors are those who listen, guide, inspire you — who teach you to teach yourself — to learn, adapt and grow.

Like your failures.

Yes, you read that right. Your past failures as mentors.

Reed Hastings, the co-founder and CEO of Netflix, spoke the other night at the latest installment of the What’s Next lecture series cosponsored by NextSpace, UC Santa Cruz and the city of Santa Cruz. He was interviewed by the smart and cheeky TechCrunch journalist Sarah Lacy.

It was certainly an engaging and educating and included witty banter about tech innovation and education, but what really caught my attention was when Reed was asked who his mentors were, and he answered:

“Scars of failures.”

Right on, brother.

We’re brought up to believe failure isn’t an option, that we succeed at all costs, but those advisors whispering in your ears are the ones taking bribes and cutting corners for the sake of, lacking in trust, authenticity and integrity.

Failures are our street-savvy friends who cuts to the chase and coach us that “it’s okay, man, now let’s learn from it.” We could all use more of those.

And I really liked the “scars” part, because it’s the “physical” memory of failure — the scars — that are sensitive to atmospheric changes.

Meaning, when we engage in acts similar to those of the previous failures, then we should do well to overcome the latest obstacle and the one after that and the one after that.

If we’ve learned anything from those mentor failures that is.

Which is what makes for sound leaders of self and of others, whether your big or small, public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit.

Be better and brighter.

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