Today’s episode is the second in a 3-part series on leadership, featuring guests Brig Gen Robert “Gwyn” Armfield, USAF (Ret.), former OCF executive director Lt Gen Bruce Fister, USAF (Ret.), and current OCF executive director Col Scott Fisher, USAF (Ret.). The topic that’ll be discussed is failure and how to deal with it as a leader in the high-stakes military profession. As my guest Bruce Fister points out, “We’re all going to fail at one point … But you have to deal with it because otherwise no one is going to learn from it.”
Some of the aspects of failure that Bruce, Gwynn, and Scott touch upon include how leaders can create a culture of trust by “being real” about their failures, the importance of setting up those you lead for success—and the space to fail, how smart leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses and rely on others for help, and what can happen when you act too quickly in decision-making without taking it to prayer.
If you would like to share your own story, complete the form on OCF’s “Be a Guest” webpage. Alternatively, if you have an idea for a guest or topic I should consider for a future episode of the show, send an email to [email protected].
Here are a few questions to ponder in your personal time, with a small group, or with a mentor:
1. What keeps us from facing our failures—let alone dealing with and learning from them?? How can honesty about failures as a leader create a culture of trust with those you lead?
2. Do you believe that you could never rise up to the level of your leaders because they have never failed, and you have? Examine the lives of King David, the Apostle Peter, and others in the Bible who have failed, but were used by God as leaders. Still true of you? Why?
3. The panelists underscore that young leaders learn how to make good decisions because someone allowed them to make bad decisions and learn from them. Do you do that as a leader? What steps could you take to create space for others to fail and learn from it?
4. The Book of James instructs us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Think of a time when those attributes were absent either from another leader or in your own leadership. How would you handle that situation now?
5. How does communicating with God in prayer and developing a biblical eternal perspective and spiritual resilience make it possible to learn from and move on in the military profession when it comes to injury and death?
6. “Listen to God, seek what He would have us do, and obey whatever that is.” Why are those so often regarded as last resort when it comes to decisions in life, and especially so as Christian leaders?