Take the Hard Lessons with You and Leave The Mistakes In the Past

Patricia Asp, 4word Board Member and founder of ASPire, talks about how she’s learned to use what she’s learned in a trial or difficult time in her life to better guide others in the future.

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 NIV

Have you ever had someone support you through a trial in your life because they had also gone through a similar trial?

Yes! I remember being the new company president and one of our required company’s senior executives obtained a contract far beyond their capability (which I was reluctant to bid on but due to internal pressure allowed). I lacked experience in that market but because our chairman, Board of Directors, and senior financial executives had approved the multimillion dollar investment, I felt slightly more confident. Well, the first week we started the contract, we began losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. The chairman (who was my mentor) stuck with me, even though I believed that because it happened under my leadership, I should be fired. Here are four lessons he taught me in that situation:

  1. As a leader, when you push the envelope and chart new territory, there are risks. 
  2. When your executives make multimillion dollar mistakes and they followed the commitment authority (not disregarding organizational policy), he asked, “ Why would we fire you now when we just invested this amount in your education?”
  3. Never apologize for #2; it’s why you are a leader!
  4. 50% of being smart is knowing what you don’t know, admitting it, and finding experts that do know. 

When you encounter a trial or difficult time in your life, what is your initial reaction?

Historically it’s been to go into “overdrive” to FIX IT. And it was very easy to fall into the “it all depends on me” mode. For executives and business leaders, that’s very easy mode to switch into because for many of us, that’s what we do for a living. But after I’ve done all I can do, it was only then that I sought the Lord‘s guidance, insight, wisdom, and His power. 

How can someone train themselves to encounter and experience a trial in their life in a way that will help them learn through it?

I learned to FIRST spend time with the Lord to seek His supernatural wisdom and to be with me throughout, all the while praising Him for the opportunity to serve, learn, and grow BEFORE I go headfirst into finding a solution with my team or family. I intentionally seek the Lord‘s wisdom and guidance as I encounter trials while staying acutely aware of what I am learning as I navigate the situation.

Have you been able to help someone else because of a trial that you went through?  

Absolutely. Professionally, in mentoring and coaching, I call upon the mistakes I’ve made and subsequent lessons learned, allowing people to avoid the same mistakes. I have great empathy for others’ trials and let others know I’ve “been there, done that and got the T-shirt.” Sharing the lessons I learned can be of great value for others to provide what questions to ask before making a decision on what path to take.

Personally in my family I’m kind of the “bad news” go-to person! Life throws us a lot of curve balls! Staying in passionate prayer, being empathetic but objective, defining the problem and potential actions to take, can remove the tendency of “emotionally triggered” actions which can be detrimental to the situation.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We have all been and will go through life’s trials, personally and professionally. These trials can be invaluable gifts to build skills, knowledge and wisdom that will serve us and others in the future. Our mistakes do not define us; instead, the lessons we learned build us! I read we should not “build shrines to our past mistakes and painful events” and keep going back to revisit them. To me, that means to take the lessons with us into the future…NOT the trials and mistakes.

Meet Patricia Asp, 4word Board Member, Principal and Founder of ASPire. After witnessing the dramatic weakening of core values of great companies during successions, mergers, acquisitions and rapid growth, Pat launched ASPire as a commitment to the strategic preservation of the goodness of companies and organizations. Using two proven methodologies for measurement and accountability, ASPire’s clients align Purpose and Culture and business strategy for growth and sustainability.  

Patricia Asp is a senior Transformation and Operating executive with over 25 years of diverse business experience in Fortune 500 and small privately held companies in the service, education, healthcare and photography industries. Her specialties include business turnarounds, strategic planning, culture and values sustainability, and multiple location/distributed organizational models with emphasis on performance and process improvement. Throughout her career she has held operations, sales, activations, finance, human resources, and business transformation positions, including CEO, COO and President of companies. Each role required significant strategic redirection and performance improvement.

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