I like to read books. I read to learn much more often than I read for an entertaining story. Sometimes I get through a book that really speaks to me. Failing Forward is impactful to say the least. I highly recommend it for your personal development regardless of age, career, personality, etc. You can benefit from the encouragement in this book. However, if you aren’t likely to read the book, maybe you can read my notes on it here along with some personal commentary from my experience.
First let me just say that fear of failing is a big deal for me. I’ve struggled with it my entire life. I was the kid that was so afraid to try something new because I didn’t want to fail at it. I sure wasn’t going to let anyone see me fail if I could help it. I would first study, watch, analyze the thing, play my moves over and over in my head until I was certain that I could do it and do it well. If not, I would practice in secret until I got it down, then reveal to all that I could do it as if it were no big deal. I captured the story about learning to ride a bike in a short video HERE. Kinda funny.
The issue didn’t disappear over time just because I supposedly grew up. In fact the mindset of fear and aversion to failure just grew deeper and more difficult to overcome in some instances. I’m certain that my fear to risk has stunted my career and limited my potential as a leader. But not all is lost my friends! This old dog is still learning, still working on me so I can be my best for those people who count on me the most. If you can relate, keep reading and I hope you find some inspiration and encouragement to fail forward.
The following is taken directly from Maxwell’s book. It’s a summary of my favorite lines. 203 pages reduced to one short list. You’re welcome.
15 Steps to Failing Forward
- Realize there is one major difference between average people and achieving people. The difference is their perception of and response to failure. No matter how difficult your problems, the key to overcoming them is not changing your circumstances, it’s changing yourself. Changing yourself is a process that starts with a desire to be teachable.
- Learn a new definition of failure. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison Regard failure as the price you pay for progress.
- Remove the “you” from failure. James Allen – “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thought.” People who don’t give up keep trying because they don’t base their self-worth on their performance. Take responsibility for your failures, but don’t take them personally.
- Take action and reduce your fear. Don’t wait for motivation to magically inspire you to act. Just do it. Exercise, eat right, love sacrificially, kick a bad habit, whatever the thing is, DO IT without motivation and then it happens. Your motivation comes AFTER you do the thing and makes it easier for you to keep on doing it. You are more likely to act yourself into feeling than feeling yourself into action. So act! DO whatever it is that you know you should do.
- Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility. If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. “Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” – Paul J. Meyer “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of our responsibilities.” – Sire Josiah Stamp
- Don’t let failure from outside get inside you. Failure and success is an inside job. The battleground is between your ears. If you want to achieve, you have to win the war in your thinking first. “Handicaps can only disable us if we let them. This is true not only of physical challenges, but mental and emotional as well…I believe real and lasting limitations are created in our minds, not our bodies.” – Roger Crawford.
- Say good-bye to yesterday. You will not be able to be your best today until you say good-bye to yesterday. Today may be your day to turn the hurts of your past into a breakthrough for the future. Don’t allow anything from your personal history to keep holding you hostage.
- Change yourself, and your world changes. If you are not happy with your job, your family situation, or life, look at what you can change in yourself before trying to alter your circumstances. “The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am.” – Sam Peoples Jr.
- Get over yourself and start giving yourself. A major cause of negative thinking and poor mental health is self-absorption. Generous people are rarely mentally ill. If you tend to take yourself too seriously, give yourself and others a break. Recognize that laughter breeds resilience.
- Find the benefit in every bad experience. We tend to overestimate the event and underestimate the process. Every fulfilled dream occurred because of dedication to a process. To achieve your dreams you must embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you’re not failing you’re probably not really moving forward. Journaling is good for this.
- If at first you do succeed, try something harder. Risk must be evaluated not by the fear in generates in you or the probability of success, but in the value of the goal.
- Learn from a bad experience and make it a good experience. Ben Franklin – “The things which hurt, instruct.” Your attitude toward failure determines your altitude after failure. When a person has the right mind set, every obstacle introduces him to himself. “Learning is defined by a change in behavior. You haven’t learned a thing until you take action and use it.” – Don Shula
- Work on the weakness that weakens you. Take a sober self-assessment. Real success lies in experiencing fear or aversion and acting in spite of it.
Top 10 Ways People Get in Their Own Way
–Poor People Skills Learn how to get along with other people. Period.
–A Negative Attitude Learn to make the best of any situation.
–A Bad Fit Sometimes a case of mismatched abilities, interests, personality, or values can be a major contributor to chronic failure.
–Lack of Focus People lacking focus are not too busy, but have priorities out of whack.
–A Weak Commitment The last time you failed, did you stop trying because you failed, or did you fail because your stopped trying?
–An Unwillingness to Change If you resist change, you’re really resisting success. Learn flexibility, or learn to like living with your failures.
–A Shortcut Mind-Set If you continually give in to your moods or impulses, then you need to change your approach to doing things. Set standards for yourself that require accountability. Suffering a consequence for not following through helps you stay on track.
–Relying on Talent Alone Adding a strong work ethic to talent is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It’s explosive!
–A Response to Poor Information “Expect only 5% of an intelligence report to be accurate. The trick of a good commander is to isolate the 5%.” – General Douglas MacArthur.
–No Goals Many people don’t have goals because they haven’t allowed themselves to dream. No dream= no desire. If that describes you, then you must look deep within yourself to determine WHY you are on this planet. Once you know that, you’ll know what to shoot for.
14. Understand there is not much difference between failure and success. Having a sense of purpose is the fuel that powers persistence in the midst of adversity. “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver
15. Get up, get over it, and get going. It’s what you do after you get back up that counts. Nothing of value is achieved without taking risks. Winning usually follows losing.
- Finalize your Goal
- Order your plans.
- Risk failing by taking action
- Welcome mistakes
- Advance based on your character
- Reevaluate your progress continually
- Develop new strategies to succeed
You made it! You read this far because this subject struck a chord with you. Or maybe because you are determined to not read the whole book, but wanted to get the high points. Either way, mission accomplished.