How to fail epicly and succeed in the process | kinda sorta

Failing Forward Book Cover
Image from rooscohengroup.com

Weather or not the title of this blog will be answered or have any relevance is something I am indifferent about. It intrigued you to look at my blog, huh? Hopefully you will walk away with something learned.

The term “Failing Forward” has been largely embraced by John C. Maxwell, a renowned speaker known for his expertise in leadership. Infact, he has written a book entitled, “Failing Forward.” It’s about the difference between people who are successful and people who are not. His main thought is the difference between these two types of people is determinant on how they respond to failure. Do they allow it to affect them negatively to the point of giving up, or do they take something away from the experience and learn from it? Maxwell insinuates that failure is not a single event in one’s life, but instead, it is a process (100 Must Reads Frumi Rachel Barr, MBA, Ph.D.). Again, it is up to you to determine how you respond.

To give us a better understanding of what failure and success is, Rachel Barr, MBA, Ph.D. notes seven things as to what failure is not; found in the second chapter of Maxwell’s book:

  1. Failure is not avoidable – humans are bound to fail sooner or later.
  2. Failure is not an event, but a process. Success is not a destination – it is the journey you take and what you do day to day – success is a process, and so is failure.
  3. Failure is not objective. You are the only person who can label your actions a failure.
  4. Failure is not the enemy – it takes adversity to achieve success. It is fertilizer.
  5. Failure is not irreversible.
  6. Failure is not a stigma – they are not permanent markers. Make each failure a step to success.
  7. Failure is not final – failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success and if we learn to embrace that new definition of failure, then we can move ahead. It’s the price you pay for success.
Image from bariebock.com
Image from bariebock.com

In a 99U article, Sarah Rapp discusses the wrong way to handle failure and the right way to handle it. Rapp lists the wrong way to hand failure as, having a denial of it, chasing your losses, and hedonic editing. I am not sure what that last one is, but Rapp then goes into the right way to handle failure and list those as, trying new things, experimenting where failure is survivable, recognizing when you have not succeeded, the ability to recognize failure, gathering feedback, removing emotion from the equation, don’t get too attached to your plan, creating safe places to fail, and practice disciplined pluralism.

I have a personal experience in this. When I was in highschool I wanted to sing in my high school’s youth group. I had already been playing lead guitar for the worship team from my middle school years and wanted to lead worship. My youth pastor would not let me. He wanted me to stay where I was because he thought that my voice was not strong enough and that I could not sing. Instead of letting that be a failure/a setback for me, I decided to prove that I could sing and lead with my voice. I practiced day and night and continued to persist him in letting me lead worship. Eventually he let me and I have been leading worship ever since. Another experience I had within the same genre was when I was in middle school. I wrote a song and played it at a talent show. A lot of people said that it was really bad and that my voice did not sound good. A year following I decided to play another song and people were amazed as to how well I could sing. They were shocked given the previous year’s experience.

It is up to you as the individual to either let your failure break you or mold you. Make an effort to learn from your failures in all areas of your life. Do this and you’ll be on your way to living a more successful life.

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