A reporter once asked Thomas Edison how he felt failing one thousand times. He replied:
“I didn’t fail one thousand times. The light bulb is an invention that requires 1000 steps. I have learned 1000 ways how not to make a light bulb.”
It is the learning when you fail that deserves celebration, not the failure itself. Failure without lessons learned is a failure. When you fail forward, you learn in the process of failure, which means you’ll inevitably get closer to succeeding.
Failure is not a joke; it can be expensive, embarrassing, or heart-breaking. However, the truth is that people who shun failure deny themselves the opportunity to reinvent and innovate.
We all fail at some point in life, but we get to choose whether we stay down or fail forward.
Can Setbacks Fuel Future Success?
Failure can be a great driver of success. Here are some of the main reasons why.
Failure Teaches Better Than the Best Teacher
Every failure comes life lessons that you may never learn from the world’s best university. Failure helps you prioritize what you normally ignore.
Perhaps you have been ignoring some bad habits because they are not big red flags yet. Failure will enable you to confront your fears and tendencies in a way you wouldn’t have if you had not failed.
If you have not failed before, you definitely missed out on opportunities to reflect and figure out your sources of motivation. Check out the video below to learn just why failure is the key to success:
Failure Makes You Strong and Wise
The wisdom and strength that you exude when you share what life has taught are what I’m talking about here. The lessons become a significant part of your journey and success.
Consider actors preparing for a movie. Sometimes, you miss the line while acting the script, and you rehearse. Every rehearsal is an opportunity to become better. Likewise, each setback is an opportunity to develop the courage to fail forward.
Failure Makes Your Story Compelling
Your obstacles produce the most incredible story ever told—stories of how you surmount your challenges and achieve the success you desire. These kinds of stories have impact and give others hope.
It would be uninteresting to reflect at the end of life and realize you have never failed. It would most likely depict a life of mediocrity and complacency. Without failure, you cannot tell compelling stories or record noteworthy feats.
Failure Makes You Fit to Pursue Your Goals
Failing forward despite setbacks means you believe you can. It means you can move on despite obstacles.
This resolution helps you always stay fit to pursue your goals. The judgment and opinions of others can no longer sway you. You are more resolute and committed to seeing your goals come to reality.
9 Tips to Fail Forward
You can leverage failure to start learning and growing in any aspect of your life. Here are 9 proven tips to fail forward.
1. Determine the Possible Challenges
Begin by determining the exact stumbling blocks between you and your success. When you think about your success, negativity becomes a challenge that can assault your mind.
Go ahead and list all the factors that could cause you to fail. Write them in your journal. When you are done, you have a list of potential limitations to your success.
Now, take them one after the other and reflect on the best ways to overcome them. Activate your action plan, and attack each limitation until you clear all and achieve your next level of success.
2. Develop a Strategy
When you keep aiming at a goal, and you keep failing, refuse self-denigrating thoughts. Instead, assess and change your strategy. You don’t have to change your goals as long as they are SMART goals; you only need to change your approach.
Figure out what you’re missing and design a system to avoid future mistakes. Find an accountability partner or a mentor to share input and ideas on your strategy. Commit at least 10-15 hours refining your strategy, and keep positive people around you to help you avoid negativity.
3. Educate Yourself
It would be great if you could research about what lies ahead of you. Find out if someone has passed through it and learn from their experience.
Thomas Edison made 1000 attempts; how did he manage to fail forward? What can I do to overcome anxiety and depression that comes with failing?
Equip yourself to surmount challenges when they arise.
4. Seek Advice
Isolation is a killer of success. Don’t isolate yourself from people that can help you. Talk to someone about the circumstances.
If you had the opportunity to meet Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Edison, what questions would you ask? Perhaps, how Lincoln led the nation through one of the most significant moments in the history of the United States despite his inner troubles. How Edison failed forward until his dream of a light bulb for humanity came to reality.
Ask your contacts to point out limitations and the mistakes they made. Leverage this experience to shorten your learning curves. You can also enroll in courses designed to help you overcome obstacles.
5. Reflect on Your Why
Someone once said if your why is big enough, the how will show up. Take some minutes to write and reflect on why you want to overcome obstacles and achieve your next level of success. Think yourself into the new feeling, esteem, and lifestyle you desire. This is called visualization, and it can be a great tool to help you fail forward.
You can learn more about finding your why in this article.
6. Live Life With No Regrets
Value each day and refuse to live your life by default, but by design. Manage your time effectively, and live every second of your life deliberately.
Pursue your goals, take calculated risks, and know that every risk comes with failure. Embrace each chance you have to fail forward because it will mean one less regret you have later.
7. Celebrate Your Small Wins
Every achievement takes you one step closer to your success. While waiting for the final day, take out time to celebrate those small victories.
Perhaps you have completed your weekly to-do list; you can pamper yourself. You may visit the cinema, attend a yoga class, or visit the spa. That way, you will generate momentum to surmount the next obstacles.
8. Learn From Each Day
Every day is an opportunity to show up in the school of life. Show up to learn from life’s instructor—failure. Open yourself to events and experiences as they present you the opportunity to learn.
Your greatest teacher in life is failure. The more you fail forward, the less you become afraid of failing as you would have transcended your setbacks and emerged stronger.
9. Accept Reality
When you fail, admit it, and accept that life must continue. That’s what failing forward is all about.
Acceptance helps you to make progress. It helps you to gain liberty so you can figure out the next step to take.
The Bottom Line
Above all, maintain a positive attitude. Your attitude is fundamental to your outcome. Always preempt obstacles, and don’t let life happen to you without taking the time to fail forward.
Don’t stop, and celebrate every little achievement.
More Tips on How to Fail Forward
- How Reframing Your Failures Will Actually Bring Success
- 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure
- 30 Powerful Quotes On Failure That Will Lead You To Success
Featured photo credit: Josh Marshall via unsplash.com