This morning, I was listening to Sean Soole, an incredible speaker who was talking about leadership. He asked us to write down statements that we lived by. This really got me thinking about what I stand for, or what is important to me in terms of leadership. My statement was “I am an inclusive, joyous and calm leader that lives for change.” I would love to hear your statements in the comment section below as well. 

This activity reminded me of how important it is to make space for learning and growth. One thing that is common for all of us is change. Change is inevitable. Things are always going to improve, evolve and adapt. Now think about this – when you learnt how to ride a bike or swim, you didn’t look graceful doing it. But over a period of time, with persistence and learning from little failures, you eventually got good at it. You eventually got good because you allowed yourself space, and didn’t mind looking bad in the process. 

leadershipBe willing to be a ‘bad artist’

Here’s a quote for you that will enlighten you on this concept. Julia Cameron, the author of ‘The Artist’s Way’  talks about what it takes to improve as an artist. She said “It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. Be willing to be a bad artist, so you have a chance to be an artist.” So then what does it take for you to be a bad artist and allow yourself room to grow in the process? You have to draw outside the line sometimes to draw inside the lines.

Falling on your backside is part of the process. It’s inevitable that whatever we master is going to change. We might master something now, but down the track, things will be different. If we think we know everything we need to know, we’re never going to improve and adapt. When it comes to leadership, understanding this is very important to maintain and keep the momentum of both business and personal growth.

Change is your friend 

My dad is a farmer. At one point, he decided that he was not going to embrace technology – even though so many farmers were doing it. By doing this, he really crippled his farming opportunities and isolated himself. He didn’t allow himself to learn and grow, which inevitably limited his opportunities and safety. 

Let’s look at bikes as an example. When bikes were invented, there were penny farthings. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never ridden one. If you asked me to, I wouldn’t be able to do it.  But I can ride a pushbike. Only because at one point in my life, I did persist and learn how to ride it. Even though I fell off, I kept going till I knew how to do it. In a hundred years, bikes may be different, or may not even be used; but the nature of the world is to keep evolving and changing. 

Building foundations for growth

So my question for you is, what space do you provide for yourself to look ugly? We all know that learning is an integral part of growth. But what do you do to make space for your learning? How are you supporting learning and growth in your professional life?

Do you allow yourself to get feedback? In your business, how do your clients and peers give you feedback? When looking to improve your leadership abilities, feedback is a fundamental part of change and evolution. Some people take negative feedback as a hard blow, but there are lots of benefits to this kind of feedback. It is a fantastic opportunity for growth because people are telling you what they don’t like or how things could be better. Much of that time we plead to others for this feedback “What do I have to do? What will it take to get the results I want?” Falling off your bike is feedback too. We learn what NOT to do next time. Feedback is integral to improving your leadership – so how do you create the space for it? 


  • Be open to feedback 
  • Provide yourself with the space to learn 
  • Seek opportunities for growth and make room for it.


  • Take the negative feedback as a blow 
  • Be afraid of looking bad in order to get better
  • Stay stagnant and not embrace change 

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About the Author:

Barbara CliffordBarbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a co-founder of The Hinwood Institute. She is the lead trainer and coach in Time Management. She is a recognized leader in Stress Management. An experienced coach, speaker, columnist and facilitator, Barbara’s work with The Hinwood Institute assists people to unclutter mess, make order from chaos, and swap the shackles of overwhelming for freedom. Barbara’s clients move from the relentless hamster wheel to waking inspired, motivated, making decisions with purpose and achieving peak performance. She lives in the desert of Alice Springs, Australia working with people around the country.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships