Failing Forward

failing-forwardI read this great book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success, by John C. Maxwell, the same man who wrote the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Great for two reasons, it talks about a very important topic in life, failure, and secondly it seems to have influenced me subconsciously by giving my blog post from yesterday its title. “Huh, this book must have had an impact on me,” I thought.

The main topic of this book is failure, and how failing isn’t a negative thing (unless you think that way). This is something I tend to agree with, so I guess this book is kind of preaching to the choir, at least in my case.

You see, when you fail, it means you took a risk; you got up, and tried to do something outside your comfort zone. In a way, you already succeeded in something most people fail at. Good on you.

…Of course no one thinks like that, but that’s what’s going on.

The only way you get good at something is you first fail a bunch of times until you succeed. When you first start learning how to ride a bicycle what happens? You’ll probably fall as soon as you get on the bicycle, but you’ll get up, try again, and sooner than you know it, you’re already riding that bicycle just like anyone else. Same applies when you’re trying to learn how to drive a car, cook something… it applies to anything and everything.

You witness an amazing pianist doing their performance, and you think they are amazing at the time you see them, but what you don’t see how long it took them to get where they are right now. You too could be that person if you gave yourself the chance to fail at something you think is important.

The Big Three


I wanted to dive a little deeper into what you’ll find in this book by talking about the contents in more detail.

You learn three big lessons from this book:

  1. Even if a failure isn’t your fault, take responsibility for your future success.
  2. The only way to make failure useful is to learn from it.
  3. Focus on three things to make the most of the opportunities you get.

I’ll leave the first two lessons open for you to explore for yourself, but I’ll explain the third one, as it’s quite obscure.

Focus on three things to make the most of the opportunities you get.

At this point in the book, you have already learned much about failure, and how it actually is a stepping stone for you to move forward, rather than something that sets you back.

Maxwell goes on to suggest that you should make the most of the opportunities that are given to you, and this is how it’s explained in the book:

Set clear goals.

bullseye-dart-dartboard-15812Specific goals are very important on your way to success, for many reasons. When we’re talking about opportunities in particular, the goals you have set for yourself determine whether you should take it or not. Having goals will clear clutter from your life and make it more focused.

Work on your social skills.

failing-forwardIf you want to be successful in life, you must have social skills. Even to get opportunities, you must have mastered the skill of networking and communication. When you eventually get your opportunities, you must also be able to communicate with the people that are going to be working with you.

If you aren’t already good at this, then you should already know what to do to get better; fail many times until you get good at it.

Keep a positive mindset.

I wrote about this topic recently in my blog post about learned optimism. People often mistake positivity and optimism for happiness, which they are not. Positive thinking and optimism are mindsets that help one to learn from failure, rather than being taken down by it.

It’s worth your time to read up on optimism, as it is an invaluable asset once you are able to think positively.

failing forward

Short Summary

That’s what this book is all about, accepting failure as a part of the process in becoming great. I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with the idea of failure, or is still afraid to fail. It is one of the best books about the concept of failure.

Thank you for reading my blog post. I hope you found it interesting.

You can buy the book here: Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success

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