Emotional bank account

No one becomes a better musician, teacher, scientist, carpenter, dentist, accountant, or manager without stretching outside of their comfort zone.

The only way to avoid the setbacks and disappointments inherent in this unfamiliar territory is to avoid trying new things.

Frankly, if you are not failing at something, you are probably not pushing yourself hard enough. What’s more, failure should be disappointing. If there is no disappointment, the work you tried was probably not that important to you.

Our self-esteem and capacity to cope have more elasticity, or capacity to stretch without breaking in response to stress, when we have a learning mind-set. Just as a savings account gives us elasticity in the face of unexpected expenses, Stephen Covey refers to an “emotional bank account” that gives us elasticity in the face of unexpected setbacks of other kinds.

When people learn how to learn from mistakes, then they cope better with the stress of change. Setbacks become opportunities to grow rather than reasons to give up.

Leaders build this elasticity, this sense of having enough stretch and to spare in one’s emotional bank account when they teach employees how to learn from both good and bas experiences. A learning focus puts new meaning on failure and change in general, turning it from a threat to an opportunity. This learning focus, rich with meaning making, is a key building block of the abundant organisation.

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