Leadership Mints Series Sampler On Turning Failure Into Hope

Anticipation skyrocketed in the classroom and ricocheted off the saucer-wide eyes of the 7th graders. Their teacher held the focus of the student’s attention in her  hands: their graded math exams.

Heightening the tension in the air, the teacher maintained a bland expression and provided no hint of each student’s fortune—good or bad– as the teacher handed the exams individually to each student.   

Sighs of relief and groans of despair began echoing throughout the classroom as each student processed their grade in bold red ink centered in an even bolder red circle.

One student girded for the bad news she knew was coming. Long before she even focused her eyes on her grade, she could see that big fat F for Failure bleeding its red ink all over her exam.

The student took a deep breath as the teacher handed back her graded exam with that same bland expression. The student didn’t groan or sigh as she stared at her grade swimming in red ink. She squinted and then seemed confused. There was no F!

Then her confusion turned into a conviction that she could pass the math exam. NEXT TIME.

Instead of the expected F, the teacher wrote in bold red
with that even bolder circle these two words: NOT YET!

The teacher extended a sense of hope to her student to retake the exam. The teacher’s “Not Yet” implied an expectation of her student’s enhanced performance next time

Two others also failed the exam and had to endure the big fat F on their graded exams. Why the exception?

The teacher saw greater potential in this student based on her participation in class going into the exam. That’s what leaders do: they assess potential in others based on their character and sense of responsibility. Then the most effective teachers –and leaders — bring out the best in others often with a carrot that stimulates more than stick that stings.

For more ideas on stimulating others with a sense of hope, purchase the 300 page book on empathy with  77 examples from business, sports and politics.

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