Failing Towards Success

The Success/Failure Paradigm

HandshakeEveryone fails in life. It is how we see failure that defines our future. Successful people fail more often than average people. Successful people tend to see failure through a different lens, choosing to see failure as a detour rather than a wall.

John Maxwell wrote a well-known book called, “ Failing Forward, Turning Failures Into Stepping Stones to Success”. In his book he describes how achievers have a different perception and response to failure. Maxwell reveals his secrets to moving beyond failure, using failure as a stepping-stone to success.

Successful people ask different questions when faced with failure. If we see failure as a teacher rather than rejection or a statement of our worth, this change in perception can be the key to great learning. If we ask ourselves some simple questions our failure can lead us to new opportunities.

We all have failed, but it is what we do with our failures that define our future. Consciously asking some strategic questions can give you clues as to what your next steps can be:

  • What can I learn form the situation?
  • How can I do this differently?
  • What good has come from this failure?
  • What lesson is there for me in the failure?
  • How can I do things differently to affect a different outcome?
  • Should I try again or is modifying the original idea or plan a better resolution?
  • Am I taking responsibility for my part in what created the failure?
  • How can I dramatically alter the outcome-what needs to strategically changed?

Sometimes we need to miss a goal to find a new path or our destiny. Harrison Ford, Michael Jordan, Colonel Sanders, and J.K. Rowling all have one thing in common, they have all failed. What they have in common is they chosen not to see failure as a roadblock, they had clear intentions, and they persevered.

Realize through each challenge or failure we can choose hope and understand that failure leads to a better future if we have an attitude of gratitude, are open to possibilities, while trusting that new opportunities will present themselves. Looking at failure not as a dead end, but as a detour to a better outcome. Perseverance and tenacity can make a deciding difference in outcome. J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech really says it all.

“A mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew. Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” J.K. Rowling

Failure is facing your personal challenges, insecurities, and lessons, and letting them be a teacher to you, taking you where you could not even imagine. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t taken chances and lived. If we choose to see failure differently and experience the full benefits, we will fail forward to success. Use failure to become all of who you are meant to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *