What We Learn From Defeat


man with hand on temple looking at laptop
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

     If someone asks “how do you know if someone is excelling in their job”, typically our society would determine their job title, their last promotion or awards the individual has received. While those aspects do deserve significance, they are not the moments that leaders determine to be the defining moments in their career. In many cases, it is when leaders are faced with tough decisions, how they handled a crisis or are told they are not hired for a position. It is in these difficult circumstances, what some may call “defeats,” that leaders further develop skills, sharpen their resilience that pushes them towards excellence. All of us will have tough moments or defeats, but what makes individuals become leaders is how they respond to these challenges.  In this blog post we look at what we learn about these situations that help us to strive for excellence. Remember, a defeat or failing at something “does not define you as a leader, but rather it refines you.”

     When someone has tough moments, it is human nature to question yourself and your skills. At times, we begin to question what is it that we should be working towards or our purpose. If you self reflect and refocus, then you will remember the most important part of our work is not awards or promotions but rather what others will remember about your impact. This includes 

What others will remember about your impact


  • How did you trust others and empower them to be the positive change.
  • Did you support others to become better.
  • Did you place a priority on positive relationships and lead with positivity.
  • Did you model for others innovation and vulnerability.
  • Did you lead with character and competence.
  • Did you care about kids and focus the energy upon supporting them.


     If you can refocus on what your impact will truly be measured by, then it helps you to see the bigger perspective beyond the tough situation you are currently in. After processing what happened, you can learn very important things from difficult situations that will make your impact even greater. Here are the important things to remember about difficult situations:

What I have learned from difficult situations:


  • Focus on what you can control 
  • Model the behaviors you want others to show 
  • Remember it’s about perspective –  “tough moments but never bad days”
  • The challenging situation will make you stronger growth is a process


     When we do have tough moments or defeats, we can be too quick to judge ourselves. In many cases, we are our own worst critic and we look for our faults and not how much we are progressing as leaders. In reality, if you work hard, reflect, focus on the right work then you will grow over time. The important thing to remember is that not only are your growing as a leader, but to remember this during the challenging circumstances. To help focus your growth, it’s important that you can measure your growth so it becomes “visible”. Here is how you can measure your growth:

Measure your Growth by


  • Your Impact upon others so they develop as leaders
  • Get authentic feedback from stakeholders 
  • Willingness to learn, listen, take risks and fail and see the progress
  • Remove your blind spots
  • Be Intentional with your work 


     As a person moves through a tough situation, it is important to remember that we can only do our personal best. We cannot control others, their thoughts or decisions. But we can control our efforts, attitudes and behaviors.  In addition, it’s important as a leader to remember the following:

Focusing on things we can control includes the following:


  • Put others first and focus on the best in people
  • Empower others to help make a difference
  • Celebrate the successes of our work and embrace our failures
  • Trust the people you work with as they can be a great support system


True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when leaders take risks and strive to get better. In those instances, there are times a person will fail or have defeat. That does not define the leader but rather provides the impetus for continued growth.  It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com










Published by

A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s