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Failing Forward

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

Our relationship with fear either unlocks our full potential, or keeps us from realizing it, are the wise words of Ashley Good, the CEO of fail forward. The manner in which a majority of people perceive failure is one of the many reasons they never start on an idea, project or dream. To never start is to never know the possibility of failure. There is an engrained fear that looms on the inside of society which encourages one of two things; to act despiteof the fear or never begin due to the fear. The keywords are despite and due to. The former stems from overcoming a deep rooted fear. It is human nature to be skeptical and afraid of the unknown, conversely to push past the fear requires resilience and having the want for something outweigh the fear of failure. The latter stems from allowing fear to overpower the want for more or better. To act despite of or to never begin due to, have one common denominator – fear and one clear difference – knowing. John C. Maxwell, a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, wrote a book titled Failing Forward, which describes failing forward as the ability to look at life’s setbacks and learn from your mistakes. The book further states that failure is only as bad as your perception of it and that in actions lays the reduction of fear.

Knowledge is acquired in doing

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Knowledge is powerful. It is a tool that ages back to the days of Solomon. It has been the tool that has propelled billionaires to the list of Forbes Richest and the tool that has been at the root of innovation. Knowledge creates a shift in perspective and creates an understanding that can only be acquired through trying. With knowledge comes doing. One cannot have one without the other. Albert Einstein was a lousy student, he was expelled from school, a teacher predicted that he would never amount to anything and he failed his entrance exam into college. Albert Einstein then developed his theory of relativity and went on to be the most respected physicist in history. Oprah Winfrey grew up neglected by her mother, got involved in drugs to ease her pain and was fired from her job as a news reporter after being told she is not fit for TV. Oprah Winfrey went on to host the biggest TV show in history and became the first black female billionaire. Walt Disney was born into poverty, had his first studio go bankrupt and lost his first animated character to a bad business deal. Walt Disney went on to create Mickey, 52 million people visit Walt Disney World yearly and his net worth exceeds US$ 130 billion. In each of these is a clear example of some of the most remarkable people to have ever lived, all faced with adversities, they failed, but they failed forward.

Success or Failure

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Ralph Heath, a keynote speaker who specializes in thought leadership has a famous quote which reads, The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear’. Like every coin, there are two sides. You can either succeed or fail at your attempt at doing anything. Success is what we all hope to attain when we set out to do something, however failure is a part of the equation. The beauty is in that, when you set out to do, you learn and acquire knowledge, regardless the outcome. “If I become complacent and don’t take risks, someone will notice what I am doing and improve upon my efforts over time, and put me out of work. You’ve got to keep finding better ways to run your life, or someone will take what you’ve accomplished, improve upon it, and be very pleased with the results. Keep moving forward or die,” are some of the wise words Ralph Heath shares on the subject of failure. Despite failing, there are key lessons learnt through the process. Whenever you fail, you fail forward. You walk away from the process with a key piece of the puzzle, a knowing to do better next time, an understanding as to what went wrong. This is a key piece of information you would not have been privy to unless you had set out to try.

To never try, is to never learn

Deon Van Rensburg, a radio personality at Radiowave, is often heard saying that there is no failure, only learning. The greatest students of the world are found in the world, going against the odds and doing the things that fear tells them they cannot do. These students have failed, with each failure they learnt valuable lessons which all formulated a part of the process to get to their destiny. Failure will only ever lack the forward, when you quit trying. The key in failing forward, is in the continuous act of doing and learning.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. – Marianne Williamson

By Mavis Braga Elias

Civil Engineer, speaker, philanthropist



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