Beyond the Build

Beyond the Build

Resilience in the Making

A few years ago, I had a conversation with the former CEO of a large international construction company. We talked about a lot of things that day, but one topic that stuck with me is failure’s role in success.

When hiring an executive for his company, he often looked for someone who had lost at least $1,000,000 on a prior project. It may seem like an unconventional approach, but it resonated with me. The number of life lessons one learns by going through that kind of trial are too lengthy for this post, but above all, it teaches humility. You lose especially big when you think you know everything.

Our CFO is always reminding me that people will make mistakes and we should accept it, if the mistake is acknowledged and provides a learning experience. Over the years I have tried to follow his advice.

When folks have to overcome a tough set of circumstances, they develop that hard-to-pinpoint quality called resilience. “Scars on the back,” or whatever you wish to call it, it makes them better. They learn to take failure and bounce back, if they wish they become fighters. But if everything comes easily, half of what it takes to win is lost in the process.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.