We review question 4 of the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship application.

For this question, in particular, I have worked with:

Esther Mark – Nigeria
Adepeju Jaiyeoba – Nigeria (Team Lead)
Amani Katana – Kenya
Chola Lungu-Mutoni – Zambia
Mioraniaina Johane – Madagascar
Patience N. Agwenjang – Cameroon
Rita Zaumu- Cameroon
Dayo Nigeria- Nigeria
Owolabi Tobi Isaiah – Nigeria
Tola Oni – Nigeria

Question 4
Learning from mistakes is a part of professional development, and strong leaders are able to effectively handle challenges.
Describe a specific instance when you made a mistake or encountered a setback that helped you grow as a leader. What did you do and how are you applying those lessons learned in your current work?

Elements of the Question
1. A specific instance when you made a mistake or had a setback that made you grow as a leader.
2. What you did.
3. How you are applying lessons learned in your current work.

As a start, remember to connect the dots from the first question to the last question.

In responding to this question, this is not the time to blame yourself or others for the mistakes that occurred or the setback experienced. Be honest and focus less on your weaknesses and more on your strengths. Mistakes like how you dated two ladies who ended up breaking up with you after discovering your double dating or examples around how you used to be a drunkard, thief or disrespectful to women/men but now you are a born again Christian does not cut it. You need to be SPECIFIC and must relate this to the central theme of your previous answers.

It doesn’t have to be a national mistake on the global scale. It could simply be a challenge in starting or running your project solo which taught you to value collaboration, coming late to an interview which taught you the value of timekeeping, dealing with children which taught you to be patience, failure which taught you to be humble, challenge in accessing quality education without getting bugged down with the sub stories around how poor you were, early pregnancy, abuse or raped etc. You can’t say you haven’t made any mistake or experience any challenge or setbacks before. You are not an angel and the reviewers know this too!

Focus on telling what happened, how it became a setback or mistake, what role you played in it, how you went about making such a mistake or encountering such setback, the stage of your life you were at when it occurred.

The reviewer here is looking for your capacity to receive feedback. Place more emphasis on the lessons and experience you garnered from the challenge, mention steps taken and how it has made you a better person/leader. Please note that the reviewer is also interested in seeing your ability to bounce back from setbacks, pick up lessons and forge ahead and you need to show this in clear terms.

Whatever lesson you are highlighting should be one that for example, opened up an avenue for personal growth such as having better character, more enduring qualities, or helping you see life from another perspective or angle.It may have even pushed you to start up something, or better still, work more efficiently in your job/work/etc.

In all, be very truthful about your learning experience. Let it be one that will inspire even the reviewer reading your application.

Wishing you all the very best!

(Compiled by Adepeju Jaiyeoba for the Team)

Click here for more details and to apply

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