7 Leadership Lessons I Learned From An Injury

Posted by Alan Danielson Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:50:00 AM Categories: Leadership
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Just the other day, while doing box jumps at the gym I’m a part of, I injured myself.

A box jump is a simple move…it’s just jumping from the ground on top of a wooden box, then back to the ground. I had a box that was 30 inches high, and in the middle of the workout when I was a bit fatigued, I lost focus, clipped my foot on the way up, bumped the box a bit, and on the way down, scraped my shin.

Well, to be a little more specific, I filleted the skin right off the bone. To the tune of 7 stitches.

As you can probably guess, it hurt like mad.

I hit my shin so hard that I dented the box, so naturally, I signed it. Didn’t want the box to forget who jacked it up.

Through this injury, I learned a few lessons on leadership. I’ve had my fair share of failed ideas, botched executions, and flat-out mistakes. I’ve bombed on presentations, let people down, and not followed through when I should have. I’ve had times when I’ve said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person. I’ve brought the wrong people on the team, hurt my friends, hurt my family, and fallen on my face.

If you’re in any level of leadership, I bet you have flubbed up here and there, too.

7 Leadership Lessons an Injury Taught Me

1. When you’re tired and exhausted, focus is even more important.

The only reason I missed the box is because I got tired, and lazy.

Focus doesn’t come naturally when you’re fatigued. This is especially true in leadership. Be careful what you say when you patience is wearing thin. Those are often words you’ll regret.

Be careful making big decisions when you’re at the end of your mental, or physical rope.

Mistakes happen when you’re not at your best. When you’re exhausted, learn to rest. We fight against pride when we remind ourselves, through resting, that we can’t do it all.

2. Even small mistakes can be costly.

I just missed the box by 1/4 of an inch. And it cost me dearly.

In leadership, small mistakes can really add up. Leadership is about people, and when we mess up, we have the potential to mess people up. And when it comes to leadership in the Church, eternity is at stake.

Every. Detail. Matters.

3. When you mess up, take a breather.

I was forced to prop my leg up and change my routine for a few days, in order for my leg to heal. Healing only happened when I elevated my leg. And it forced me to sit down.

Your mistake may not force you to sit down, but to blow past it as if nothing significant happened is to miss an incredible opportunity to grow.

4. Sometimes you need to see a doctor.

I needed a doctor to sew me up. And I felt no shame in asking for help.

You need an outside observer. A coach. A consultant. A mentor. Or just a friend. You need someone to speak in to your failure and help you learn and grow from it.

Because it’s ok to mess up. But it’s not ok to stay the same.

5. Learn from your mistakes.

Now, when I do box jumps, I wrap my leg with a neoprene shin guard. I’m learning.

It hurts to have a failed idea, doesn’t it? It’s painful to blow it in leadership. To know you have failed to live up to expectations, that you’ve wasted people’s time, money, and resources really stings.

If you don’t learn something from the times when you mess up, you’re a fool.

6. Look at your scars.

Our scars remind us of the pain we’ve walked through. They’re a permanent, yet healed, place on our body. They’re not open, gaping wounds. They show us that there is redemption in pain.

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Paul, the apostle, reminds us that God comforts us through our pain so that we can comfort others with the same comfort, and hope, God’s extended us.

Your failures aren’t just about you. They’re really about how you’re going to help someone else grow through their pain.

Scars are visible reminders that healing has happened.

7. Get back at it.

I’m not quitting Crossfit. I’m already back at it. I took a few days off, but was right back in the gym.

Get back in the game of leadership! Don’t let a hiccup keep you from doing what God has called you to do and being who God has called you to be. That’s exactly what Satan would love to do…keep you sidelined over a mole hill.

I love that the Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the men and women that God used. It could’ve easily masked over their weaknesses and failures. Instead, it highlights them to show that it’s God power at work through us. I love what Paul, the apostle, says later in 2 Corinthians:

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9


Ben Reed is a small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, California. He is also the author of Starting Small: the Ultimate Small Group Blueprint. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Visit Ben Reed at www.benreed.net