#MobilizeWomen Recap: Lessons on Leadership and Failure from Alison Levine
#MobilizeWomen is a movement propelled by change makers in business to commit to taking action against gender inequality. Ellevate Network hosted a number of speakers in NYC on June 21st, 2017. This is a recap of part of the event, with the most relevant concepts you can use to take action in your everyday life. Download the Mobilize Women Action Guide here.
One of the speakers at #MobilizeWomen was NYT Bestseller of On the Edge, mountain climber, explorer, and leadership consultant Alison Levine. She was the captain of the first American Women’s team to climb Mount Everest. Though they climbed for two months, due to weather conditions, the team made it just a couple hundred feet shy of the summit. In other words, they did not reach the top. While many view this as failure, Alison Levine views this as the reason for her success on her second attempt. At the summit, Alison shared with us the important lessons climbing Mount Everest taught her about leadership and failure.
Lessons About Leadership
As a leader, you are responsible for your whole team. All of your decisions have larger implications, and you cannot put your personal goals ahead of the team. Sometimes you need to accept failure.
- “You have to be able to make very tough decisions when the conditions around you are far from perfect, and you have to think about how every single move you make is gonna affect everyone else around you and not just you.”
- “It doesn’t matter how much blood sweat and tears you personally put into something. If the conditions aren’t right, you turn around, you cut your losses, and you walk away.”
- “You cannot control the environment. All you can control is the way you react to it.”
Lessons About Failure
If Alison Levine had not failed her first time climbing Mount Everest, she never would have succeeded her second time around. Failure teaches us more about ourselves than success does, and those lessons are what allow us to succeed.
- “When you’re going to try really hard things, when you’re going to try to bust through barriers, when you’re going to push yourself far outside your comfort zone, you’re gonna have to give yourself and your team the freedom to fail. Just come back from it better the next time around.”
- “People who stand up there a couple minutes up at the top are no better than the people who turn around just short of the top, because it's not about spending a couple of minutes up there. It’s about the lessons you learn along the way when you’re fighting like hell to get up there and what you’re gonna do with that information to be better going forward.”
- “A lack of failure tolerance really stifles progress and innovation, and it prevents people from taking risks.”
The most important lesson Alison urges us to remember is, “Backing up is not the same as backing down.” Just because you accept failure for a project does not mean you have failed yourself or your team. Setbacks are a part of the process; give yourself and your team room for failure.