After The Path to Corporate Nirvana was published in 2003, an Amazon reviewer said it should have been called The Corporate Path to Nirvana. He was right. Some days at work are filled with frustrations, challenges and irritations – times when we want to throw something at a wall or unload on the nearest target. Then there are the good days, when a team we are part of has a win, our work is well received, we get a good performance review….and we are riding high, celebrating our success.  But the question is, How can we even out this oscillation?

Only wins and learnings and both are fine

Its easy to celebrate the wins. Can we also celebrate the learnings? Celebrating a learning is like being on our knees in gratitude for what we have learned. We use the learning as a kind of leverage to leap forward. While the learning may have been painful to experience, we see the value, and that value more than makes up for the experience.

I had such a learning on my very first foray into team building in the mid 90s. I had been asked by a long-time client to enter new territory helping his direct reports form as a leadership team. I was excited, I and couldn’t wait to demonstrate I knew how to do this.

I remember blank faces in response to my initial effort. I remember ramping up my energy. And then I remember hearing Judith, you are not really helping, please leave. I was on crutches at the time, so I literally hobbled out of the room. As someone who had thrived on success, this was painful. I replayed the situation over and over the next two days…every painful moment, alternatively kicking myself and those in the room.

My model was only wins and learnings. It was not a win, soit was time to put the learning theory to the test. To do this, I had to let go of the disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment, all the other feelings that had been consuming me for 48 hours. In the silence, I asked myself…if there was something I needed to learn, and this was the BEST way to learn it, what was it?

The gift of a learning.

Then I got it…I had made it about me…showing I could do it. But it wasnt about me, it was about those in the room and what they needed. I realized how off course I had been in my approach and attitude. I needed a major adjustment. A tiny wake up call, I might have missed. But this wake-up call got my attention. I was grateful that I didnt waste time struggling to figure out this course correction. With that realization, I stopped fighting the learning, and started cooperating what was beginning to feel more like a gift. Years later, the pain I barely remember; the learning gift has stayed with me.

Judith Anderson is founder of Anderson Rust, now in its 26thyear. She and her fellow Musketeer Coaches deliver ARs Goal Acceleration program around the world. To subscribe to monthly Nirvana Nuggets click here For more information on ARs team and individual coaching, email