Maya is a superstar. Smart and hard-working, she’s never met a challenge she couldn’t overcome. Over time, she’s developed not only a can-do attitude; she’s pretty sure she can handle anything the organization throws at her.

Confidence borne out of repeated success is a great thing, until it isn’t. Confidence can lead some people to think that they’re bulletproof. They feel they can wrestle victory from the jaws of defeat every time, and they certainly don’t need to hear opposing viewpoints.

In the worst-case scenario, confidence breeds arrogance. Arrogance causes you to ignore naysayers and fresh perspectives. Failure is just around the corner.

However, wise leaders avoid the pendulum behavior of ignoring, then failing, then paying attention for a while, then ignoring again… Wise leaders figure out what they need to pay attention to – what situations or people require extra input? Wise leaders don’t open the floodgates to all information; they use judgment to strategically ignore inputs that aren’t going to add value.

How do you avoid failure’s secret ingredient and build wisdom? Experience teaches, and you need to employ good judgment to tease out the right lesson. As Mark Twain wrote, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”


We eat arrogance for breakfast, though it isn’t tasty.

Photo from iStockphoto