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Learn to fail forward instead of quitting

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Learn to fail forward instead of quitting

Scott Miker

Failure is part of life.  We all experience failures at various points in our lives.  It is inevitable. 

What matters isn’t that we fail, but how we respond.  Many people experience a failure and then quit.  They hate the feeling of failing so they justify their inaction because they simply don’t want to experience that feeling again.

In The Success Principles by Jack Canfield the author discusses failing and does it within the context of accepting that failures will happen and then using them to improve.

He says, “Many people fail to take action because they’re afraid to fail.  Successful people, on the other hand, realize that failure is an important part of the learning process.  They know that failure is just a way we learn by trial and error.  Not only do we need to stop being so afraid of failure but we also need to be willing to fail – even eager to fail.  I call this kind of instructive failure ‘failing forward.’  Simply get started, make mistakes, listen to the feedback, correct, and keep moving forward toward the goal.” 

In other words, learn how to fail while still making progress towards your goal.  The failure doesn’t have to completely stop your momentum.  You can use it to adjust course and then keep working.

Successful people know how to do this.  They don’t avoid taking a chance because there is a risk they might fail.  They know that even if things don’t work out the way they anticipate, they can learn, correct, and keep going.   

But how many times have you failed and then followed that failure with quitting.  We start out the New Year with goals and ambition and soon we miss a couple workouts or we fall back into smoking.  We eat fast food or we get in a fight with a coworker.  Whatever we do, a failure happens and we go against our goal.

But that doesn’t have to be the end.  If we take that experience and then quit, calling it a complete failure, we don’t learn enough from it to move on.  What we learn is that failure hurts and we shouldn’t even start because we then run the risk of failing again.

We have to get through this mindset so that we can actively work towards our goals.  We have to be able to make mistakes and then adjust.  We have to be able to make progress and use that progress as our measuring stick. 

If we can do this, then we can achieve much more in life.  We can keep growing and improving.  We can keep exploring new goals.  We can dream bigger, knowing that we have what it takes to reach those crazy goals to make those dreams reality. 

But it doesn’t happen without the fortitude to keep going in the midst of failure.  Learn from the mistakes but don’t let the failure dictate the end of the story.  Instead, realize this is just a short-term setback and the long-term outcome will be success.