I wrote yesterday about the danger in tying the value of wisdom and advice to the morality of the advice-giver or to our opinion of that person. Underlying that discussion is the importance of acknowledging failure and accepting flaws, and then working to overcome them.

Failure is essential to the human experience; we would not be able to define success without it, nor would be we be able to learn and grow if there was nothing we were shallow, ignorant or inexperienced about.

And, in theory, corporate America gets this. We talk about innovation by failing fast, of developing employees by letting them make mistakes and overcome them. But do we live this or simply say it? Do we really believe this, or do we revert back to holding others — but not ourselves — to the common but impossible standard of perfection?

Let’s start with two quotes about the value of flaws in our leaders and leadership, both from W.E.B. (read more…)

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More than ever, today’s investors – of all generations — are looking for ways to grow their savings while minimizing risk. Over the past few years, with the volatility of the market, investors are seeking protection for their assets. And while they also strive for much-needed growth, they can be optimistic but can’t assume it will always be there.

Advisors need to be able to present investors with options that can both help protect their retirement savings and provide the opportunity for growth — with the ability to personalize their strategy. (read more…)

I like to think of our daily SmartBrief on Leadership newsletter as an essential read for current or aspiring leaders seeking guidance on being better managers, strategists and innovators. I believe we generally deliver such a product, notwithstanding the obvious bias that I edit the newsletter.

One challenge we face in summarizing the best of leadership and management coverage is that, understandably, much of the advice is black and white. It is often offered as a direct order from the leaders of today or yesteryear — “do this because it worked here”; “do this because so-and-so says so”; “don’t do this because it was a disaster for them.” This sort of advice is helpful and easy to digest. But too much all-or-nothing advice leads to simple thinking. We learn how to grow and how to lead from more than seemingly perfect people and examples; we learn what not to do from more than unmitigated failure. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How closely aligned is your job with your “life’s purpose?”

  • Very closely — my work is directly tied to my purpose in life: 24.18%
  • Kind of — there are some aspects of my work tied to my life’s purpose: 32.24%
  • Not really — my work has little to do with my life’s purpose: 29.17%
  • I haven’t figured out my life’s purpose: 14.42%

Never work a day in your life. The old aphorism states that if you love what you do (your purpose), then it really isn’t work. If you’re in the 30% that’s not aligned between your work and your purpose, consider reevaluating the work you do and finding something more meaningful when you can. If you’re in the 14% who doesn’t have a purpose, spend a few days reflecting on what your purpose in life is and see how it can align with your work. (read more…)

Warning: this could be you.

I was chatting with my phone provider recently, trying to resolve an issue which involved both product delivery and billing. What should have been a short call lasted for — wait for it — one hour. I don’t know about you, but after conversing with five (count ‘em, five!) people and exercising considerable patience, I was afraid my head might spin off.

“That’s not my area,” one person said. “Our company just merged,” said the next. The excuses differed from person to person, but they were exactly that — excuses. You get where I’m going with this: I’ve been doing business with this provider for over 20 years, but this time they missed the mark — and very nearly lost me as a customer.

We’ve all had a business experience that seems to fly in the face of common sense. How do we lose our customers? (read more…)