In Part 1 of this series on growth leadership I introduced the story of Gina Amaro Rudan, who went temporarily blind after routine eye surgery. What she learned from that experience proved the topic of her powerful speech at the inaugural Goldsmith Thompson Growth Leadership Accelerator.

Born from the learnings of bestselling authors Mark Thompson and Bonita Thompson and their first World Success Survey®, the accelerator aimed to teach leaders that the key to lasting success is in developing one’s own leadership strengths and becoming a “growth leader”.

The origin of the Thompsons’ work with growth leaders was an extensive research project done in conjunction with Wharton that analyzed 200+ leaders from 110 nations to determine the key qualities that determine lasting success. The research was the basis for the bestseller, Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters, co-authored by Mark Thompson.

 By interviewing luminaries like Warren Buffet, John McCain, and Maya Angelou and asking questions like, “What is success?”, “How can you attain it?”, and “Will it make you happy?”, the Thompsons concluded that one can only find lasting success when three distinct elements come into alignment: Purpose, Passion, and Performance.

After exploring the concept of Purpose in last week’s piece, today we’ll be looking at the power of Passion.

For Rudan, she didn’t transform into a growth leader when she regained her sight. It was the journey that mattered.

Similarly, the Thompsons work has them convinced that “transformation is not a destination.” They argue that those who understand the nature of transformation as an ongoing journey also must see that a critical aspect is learning to “harvest failure”.

Failure will come, and it will come again. And only by learning to harvest and embrace that failure can one find enduring success.

Sometimes, the failure comes as the start. For Charles Schwab, founder of Charles Schwab Corporation, a combination of his own dyslexia and his family’s suffering through the Great Depression led him to ultimately help others build secure financial futures. Mark Thomson himself couldn’t even read in Middle School due to a debilitating developmental eyesight disability. He overcame that past to become the #1 Growth Leader Executive Coach.

That said, failure doesn’t just happen at the beginning of the journey. For Rudan, the decade that has passed since her temporary blindness surely hasn’t been one long story of success. Neither has that of Roger Hajjar, the Founder & CTO of Prysm, who pioneered Laser Phosphor Display (LPD) technology based on a belief in reinventing work for the better. Like other entrepreneurs, his decision to find a technology solution to a pressing problem wasn’t the end of the story.

Failure can happen at any point in the journey. And it will.

Importantly, if you fail you’re in good company — both in Silicon Valley and around the globe. In the venture capital world, Thompson explains that you’re lucky if you win just one-third of the time, or rather, if your portfolio delivers a three-way split: 1/3 of your portfolio fails terribly, 1/3 provides base returns, and 1/3 delivers big wins.

So how can you best harvest failure through passion?

Learn to come to your own rescue.

A growth leader is able to convert wounds into wisdom in order to transform difficulty into lasting success.

They also understand that it’s not a quick-fix.

“Transformation takes time, commitment, and empathy,” says Mark Thompson. 

And an ability to act. Next week, we’ll explore what that looks like. 

How has passion affected your path to success?

Share with me below or join the conversation directly on LinkedIn.


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