“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews
At a BBQ last weekend a friend’s 10-month-old daughter kept pulling herself up, cruising along a table, letting go, putting both arms in the air, stepping away from the table, wiping out, and crying. Then doing it again! And again. This went on all night.
My friends, children know innately what we forget as we grow. The way to walk forward into life always involves failures and missteps along the way. This week I am sharing four steps that will help you successfully fail forward. [Tweet this.]
#1. Know what you want.
This sounds obvious, but I find most individuals, families and businesses don’t really know what they want. Falling hurts. Failing is no fun! In order to get back up after falling – and really, to free yourself to risk falling at all, the first step is to KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!
So, my friend, what are you moving toward emotionally, financially, physically, professionally, relationally, and spiritually? What are the goals that are driving your activities, thoughts, and results in business and life? If you aren’t clear on this, after falling you won’t be able to get up off the ground. So write down on your heart what you really want.
#2. Risk becoming more.
When you know what and why you’d risk failing, you can take the second step: Risk becoming more.
Let go of the table. Take that step. Put yourself out there. Ask her out. Try for the sale. Step back through the church doors. Get back into the gym. No more dreaming, or thinking, or wishing. The time is for action, living with intention, and boldly stepping forward!
Like toddlers learning to walk, we must risk becoming more today than we were yesterday. [Tweet this.]
#3. Embrace the gifts of that failure.
In risking falling, you are going to occasionally find yourself flat on your face. So the third step is to learn the gifts of that failure. As a guy who has had the benefit of failing more than most, it never ceases to surprise me that I learn much more about myself and others during my failures than I do during my successes.
True failure often hurts…a lot. Embarrassment, hurt pride, missed opportunities to name a few. However, the gifts of failure often appear as growth in character, increase in resilience, toughness, durability, or creativity. It often leads to renewed passion for achieving the desired goal and the willingness to tweak behavior to get there. Failure often brings us closer to others, encourages us to appreciate life more, and reignites an underlying desire to grow spiritually, too. In each failure, when we learn from the lessons within them, we step closer to the success we desire.
This is critical: When we learn from the lessons presented in failure, we ensure that the misstep has guided us a step closer toward our goals.
#4. Resiliently bounce back and step forward.
Thomas Edison used to brag that he discovered more than 1,000 ways to not invent the light blub before successfully inventing it….More than 1,000 times he failed along the journey! Abraham Lincoln had his numerous missteps and failures. All great achievements in all areas of life and throughout all time have come through countless failures.
Resiliency can be difficult to live. The common denominator of all great successes and models of resiliency, though, is they had a strong enough desire and clear goal, they had the willingness to risk everything to become more; they learned the gifts within their failures, and they chose to bounce back and step forward.
So, get clear on your why, so you can pick yourself up 19 times — and enjoy sweet success on the 20th. Enjoy the bumps, lessons and clarity along the way — knowing the truth: the best is yet to come.
What is the failure you learned most from? What lesson did you learn? Please share in the comments below.
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