As we lead others, The Art of Peace teaches us that "Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something."
Inventor, aviator and entrepreneur William “Bill” Lear knew failure. When two of his iconic Lear jets he manufactured crashed under mysterious circumstances in the Sixties, author John C. Maxwell tells us Lear ordered 55 additional privately owned Lear Jets grounded until he and his team could determine what caused the crashes.
“There was only one sure way to find out whether he had diagnosed the problem correctly,” Maxwell wrote in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. Lear would have to replicate the deadly conditions while personally piloting a Lear Jet.
That’s what he did. Lear flew the jet, nearly lost control of it and almost met the same fate as the two other pilots. He made it through the tests, verified the defect and developed a part correcting the problem on all 55 planes.
As with any product recall, it cost Lear millions of dollars in profits and planted seeds of doubt in the minds of potential customers. It took two years to rebuild trust in the business.
Bill Lear never regretted his decision. He put everything on the line – his success, his fortune, even his life had he lost control of the jet while diagnosing the deadly flaw.
Our character and integrity matter. Having the courage to do the right thing matters. How we respond to failure matters.
“Failure,” Maxwell tells us, “should be our teacher, not our undertaker."