XI. Setting yourself up to understand your failures

We’ve discussed goal-setting, developing your “pitches,” and, as a follow-up to this article, you should work to develop a way to stop “self-reflection” before you trap yourself.  But first you must understand how people see you.

Think about what you view as strengths in other people.  They can also be seen as  weaknesses depending on the person.


Traits that make a good leader:

Quick to make decisions

Gets to the point quickly

Listens to every side/opinion

Always cares about everyone around them

Can find humor in everything

Takes responsibility for every decision

Confident and Focused


These all seem positive, but they can equally be negative.  

A bad leader can listen to everyone’s opinion and then never come to a decision.

Hitler was confident and focused and quick to make decisions.

Donald Trump makes jokes about sexualizing women to diminish them

And on and on…


The difference in a good leader, one who recognizes his or her own “negatives,” is that they can see beyond themselves and get others to do so as well.  The only way this is possible is through self-reflection and working to develop the ability to move on from challenging circumstances.


The only person you need to work on improving is You:

There are thousands of scenarios showing positive or negative traits.  As quick as people are to describe you positively, they will often qualify it with something about you because no one truly is “perfect.”

Thus you must learn how to adapt and be not only aware of your failures and faults, but know this can become an advantage.  Let people know you are aware of them.  However, certain faults are never redeeming no matter who you are:


The Unredeemable faults:

  1. Don’t be late.  It’s offensive.  It doesn’t matter how busy you are.  Either take the time, and be on time, or someone will judge you for it.
  2. Never tell someone “because I said so.”  It means you have either failed to explain why something is important and should be done, or you have not established trust in your authority.
  3. Don’t promise to do something, and then go radio silent when people follow-up.  If you aren’t good on your word, it will hollow you out, or you will realize it doesn’t and you’ll end up making a promise you can’t keep that you needed to in order to maintain your status and career.


What to understand about yourself:

Are you clear in communication?

Can you accept criticism and move forward with it?


If you were to read other essays about self-help, you’d see a ton more questions.  These two above are the basics because communication is everything.  

To lead and take your career forward you can:

Either execute or you cannot.

Either lead or follow.


The rest is up to you.


But if people think you are obtuse and unable to accept criticism and not make yourself understood, don’t expect to get far in life.
Besides avoiding the three “unredeemable faults,” to truly create transformation as a leader and a person, communication and criticism are the major priorities: they are the indicators of whether you can learn from your mistakes.  The rest is different for every single person, which is why this isn’t a personality test.  An introvert can give an incredible speech.  An extrovert can be shy.  What matters is if you want to improve your relationships with others and be described as someone who is worth meeting, and not “despite of XYZ” but because of it.

David Homan

David Homan is a composer and musician, the executive of a nonprofit organization, and specialist in connecting who has built a network of thousands of peers and colleagues internationally. He regularly sits with start-up founders, philanthropists, and business leaders for informal conversations to keep them motivated and to find the strongest and simplest solution to the challenges they face. He has raised millions of dollars through multiple campaigns, put on sold-out events for thousands of people, advised conferences, staffed panels, and still manages to leave work on time--most days.