If you want to be an elite leader you NEED to be falling on your butt on the ice over and over again.

By Steve Moran

Someone once did a study of sub-elite ice skaters vs. super-elite skaters and found one huge difference between the two . . . and it wasn’t the amount of time they practiced.

Sub-elite skiers spent most of their time practicing things they could already do well. Whereas, super-elite spent way more time working on things they were not very good at — things that came with lots of falls, frustration and a feeling of failure.  

So here is the big lesson. If you want to be an elite leader you need to be falling on your butt on the ice over and over again.  

Getting Better Each Time

We rarely see it happen when we watch the Olympics, yet each ice skater, skier, snowboarder, hockey player has failed so many times it would be impossible to count. They have fallen, skidded out of control, even broken bones and bled real blood.

Yet, each time they fell they learned something. In most cases, they became just an itty bit better because of what they learned . . . and if you spend enough time getting just an itty bit better, it adds up!  

What I Worry About

I used to believe that having continuing education requirements was a great idea and would make professionals better. I am now convinced this is not true. I am not sure anyone has studied it, but I actually suspect it makes people worse leaders and not better leaders.   

The problem is that the goal becomes getting my continuing ed credits instead of actually getting smarter. You go to a conference and figure out which breakouts are most interesting to you, or which speakers you know are most entertaining.   

No matter how good a breakout session is, it is still only a 45-90 minute session and the speaker has to try to make the presentation interesting enough to hold their audience and touch everyone there. They are highly motivated, everyone wants great speaker reviews.

Bust Out of The Box

You may very well have to do continuing ed credits as a part of your job; however, I would argue that you need to figure out what else you can do. Where can you go to fall on the ice on your butt — knowing it will hurt, knowing it will be embarrassing, knowing it will be humbling?

Take an improv class, sign-up for an MBA program, or take a speech class. Go to a conference outside the industry where you don’t have a bunch of friends to hang out with.

What did you do this past year to fall on the ice?

What will you do this year?