Glenn Williams

by Glenn Williams


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"Dad how come you're not successful anymore?"

These words cut me to the core.

I am not sure my 13-year old son, Ryan, fully appreciated the power of those words as they blew away all pretence and laid my heart open and bleeding. It was a real struggle trying to find the words to describe ‘success’ in a way that would make sense to a young boy growing up in a world where success was all about having a nice home, driving an expensive car, making lots of money, taking great vacations, the number of people reporting to you, what your position was, and the size of the business. 

In the midst of concluding an executive role and launching a new business, my son had the perception that as I was no longer overseeing a multimillion-dollar budget responsible for hundreds of staff, that somehow, I was no longer successful.

As I reflected on this later, I saw the importance of taking my children on a journey—warts and all, as they say—to show them that success can be so much more. To help them examine what can also lie beneath the words penned by Andre Delbecqby’s, “the failure of success, the corruption of triumph, and the danger of celebrity”. As insightful as this warning is, I would add the words “the success of failure”.

I want my children to know that to feel as though you have failed is quite different to having failed at something.

Failing in something does not have to negatively define your future, as learning from failure can create many great opportunities for growth and innovation. Feeling as though you are a failure, however, can have devastating consequences that will significantly limit what you can achieve and damage the relationships you need in your life that will help you get there. At the very worst, you often feel very much alone.

Success today is very different to what I imagined it to be starting out thirty-five years ago. How has it changed for you?


My work with organizational leaders around the world has focused on dramatically increasing the capacity of leaders to lead and drive a culture of lasting performance throughout their organizations. This led to the development of the Leadership Capacity Program™ based upon the 5 Leadership Anchors™ that aligns the professional and personal lives of leaders.

Comments

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  • Scott Lutz

    Scott Lutz

    What's change for me is realizing that success is not a linear, foregone "up and to the right" thing. It's a spiraling up pattern of success/failure cycles over time -- personally and/or professionally -- that leads you to some realization, destination or milestone meant to take you to the next level. And yet even with this realization, one (ok, me) kind find themselves fearing the unrecoverable spiral down if the future successes don't manifest themselves in a timely fashion after failures. During a recent episode of struggling to find (force?) success after a failure, a wise person told me, "Let go and surrender to the process." Translation for me: Have faith that things -- including success -- will unfold in the proper sequence if you exercise some mindful, soulful patience. And it worked/works.
  • Glenn Williams

    Glenn Williams

    Thanks Scott. That's a great insight - that success is not linear. Success is much more than the end result. We plan for an outcome, but conclude that there is much to be learned in the process of creating a plan; we evaluate what type of people we need to surround ourselves with to make that plan a reality, and realize we are beginning to become much more strategic and intentional about leveraging the skills, strengths, and experiences others bring to our plan, and so on. I'm not a fan of simply letting things unfold as I am not naturally wired that way. However, learning to pause long enough to reflect on key learnings along the way has proven to be invaluable.