Composed: Aug 16, 2022
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Fail Forward - How to Use Failure to Drive Success
"People who avoid failure also avoid success."
- Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Inevitably, at some point in our lives, we will all face moments of failure. Moments where we feel like we gave it our all but our efforts just didn't measure up to our expectations. When we don't achieve our goals, when our efforts don't measure up, we often feel like we've failed. Is this true? Well, sort of. Let's talk about failure.
First, it's important to know that everyone fails. Before we achieve success, we experience/overcome a series of failures. Failure is just a part of the learning process. Famed basketball star Michael Jordan says it perfectly:
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."
Michael Jordan has certainly had a successful career in the NBA. But he didn't earn those successes by being perfect the very first time he picked up a basketball. He trained, he tried, he failed, he trained some more, he tried again, he failed again, and he kept on until he achieved greatness.
Failure, in and of itself, is not inherently bad. There's an acronym some have assigned to the word fail; First Attempt In Learning. Simply put: not succeeding at a specific task the first time - or first times - we try it is completely normal. It's how we respond to our moments of failure that determine whether or not we'll move forward toward success.
In many industries, failure is a planned part of the building process. A very popular bodybuilding strategy is "training to failure." Why? Because that is one of the proven strategies for growing muscles. We can all take a lesson from this strategy; failure leads to growth. Failure is how we build. It is simply an attempt we made that allowed us to build up to something bigger and better and to meet our goals next time. A popular expression uttered by some of the bodybuilding greats is to "fail forward". Meaning, take your failure and the lessons learned and use that to build and move forward.
So, instead of beating yourself up over a moment in which your experience isn't living up to your expectations, face the challenge next time feeling empowered by what you learned through your previous attempts, and use that to allow you to move forward.