“Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success”
This easy read, leadership book, details how failing forward, making mistakes and learning from these “failures” leads to success. We all know that everyone makes mistakes but it is important to recognize that it is how these obstacles are dealt with that makes all the difference. This author uses recognizable examples to inspire the reader to embrace the learning from mistakes including Amelia Earhart, Einstein, Mozart and George Bernard Shaw.
Maxwell breaks to book down into 16 chapters, each with a lesson:
The Main Difference Between those that Achieve and those who are Average –This chapter details how people deal with failure and the importance of taking responsibility, learning from mistakes, accepting that failure is part of the process, challenging assumptions, taking risks and perseverance.
Get a New Definition of Failure and Success – Failure is not a life event, but in the big picture an opportunity to learn and work towards success, is the theme of this chapter. Acceptance that mistakes and failure are inevitable and the important facts is to understand that mistakes are lessons, that lessons are repeated until they are learned, that if you don’t learn the easy lessons, they get harder and that you will know that you learned the lesson when your actions change. “Failure is a process.”
If You’ve Failed, Are You a Failure? – It is essential to take responsibility for your actions but not to take failure personally. Failing is a point in time, not a lifelong stigma and the author encourages individuals to “take the You out of Failure”
You’re Too Old to Cry, but it Hurts too Much to Laugh – Some people become paralyzed by failure, some procrastinate and don’t take risks or make excuses but the fact is, getting moving and building momentum is key to success. Roosevelt said “He who makes no mistakes makes no progress”.
Find the Exit of the Failure Freeway – it is essential to take responsibility for your own failure rather than covering up your mistakes – this is growth! Mistakes are “an opportunity to take the right action, learn from your mistakes and begin again.”
No Matter What Happens to you, Failure is an Inside Job– having a positive attitude, expecting the best, remaining upbeat, seeing the solutions, believing in yourself and holding on to hope are essential skills to dealing with challenges and adversity is the key lesson in this chapter. An important lesson is to stop worrying about things that you can’t control.
Is the Past Holding Your Life Hostage? – Moving forward means acknowledging the challenges, grieving your losses, forgiveness to yourself and others and moving on.
Who is this Person Making These Mistakes? – “To change your world, you must first change yourself” and be open to feedback and the fact that you can grow. This chapter reminds me of the Appreciative Inquiry approach of focussing on strengths.
Get Over Yourself – Everyone Else Has – This chapter discusses the importance of not dwelling on only your own success but focusing on ways to help others and gives the example of the remarkable movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. This fantastic movies follows the adult life of Mr. Holland who “settled” for teaching, always thinking about his goals to compose music, yet realizes on retirement the amazing impact that he had on others.
Grasp the Positive Benefits of Negative Experiences – the journey to success includes developing resilience through adversity, which leads to opportunity, motivation and innovation. There is a benefit to each failure.
Take a Risk – There’s No Other Way to Fail Forward – The author describes the tenacity of Amelia Earhart as she raised money to take flying lessons and struggled to set flying records including crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Individuals that take risks find opportunities, finish their responsibilities, are motivated by impossibility, are enthusiastic, face their inadequacies and figure out why others have failed. They focus on their goals and force change. They don’t worry about being embarrassed if they fail and take risks.
Make Failure your Best Friend – The mindset of learning from failure is essential including analysis of the failure, determining what success can be found within that failure and deciding what can be learned from the experience.
Avoid the Top 10 Reasons People Fail – This chapter deals with reasons that people fail but I prefer to consider the positive reflection of what can help people move forward including excellent people skills, a positive attitude, a good fit, focus, commitment and accepting that change is a “catalyst for growth.”
The Little Difference Between Failure and Success Makes a Big Difference – Maxwell shares stories of R.H. Macy – his stores are well known successes – but what he also shares is the number of failed enterprises prior to developing Macy’s. He also shares the determination of Orval Redenbacher who worked on perfecting his popcorn for many years at the age of 67 years. That perseverance led to success but it was not easy!
It’s What You Do After You Get Back Up that Counts – This chapter discusses finalizing goals, having plans in order, taking risks, welcoming mistakes, advancing based on character, re-evaluating and developing new strategies for success.
Now You’re Ready to Fail Forward – This is a summary of the book and reinforces that, “obstacles are just opportunities” or “stepping-stones for success”.
This is a quick read and reinforces that we all make mistakes and reminds us that these failures can lead to success if we learn from them. I found the book to be a bit repetitive but did enjoy and reflect on the individual stories that provided examples of failing forward.
“Failures are milestones on the success journey. Each time you plan, risk, fail, reevaluate, and adjust, you have another opportunity to begin again, only better than the last time”