The Power of Failure

Success doesn’t mean avoiding failure. All of us fail. As we travel, we all hit potholes, take wrong turns, or forget to check the radiator. The only person who avoids failure altogether is the person who never leaves her driveway. So the real issue is not whether you’re going to fail. It’s whether you’re going to fail successfully (profiting from your failure). As Nelson Boswell observed, “The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views mistakes.” If you want to continue on the success journey, you need to learn to fail forward.

Unsuccessful people are often so afraid of failure and rejection that they spend their whole lives avoiding risks or decisions that could lead to failure. They don’t realize that success is based on their ability to fail and continue trying. When you have the right attitude, failure is neither fatal nor final. In fact, it can be a springboard to success. Leadership expert Warren Bennis interviewed seventy of the nation’s top performers in various fields and found that none of them viewed their mistakes as failures. When talking about them, they referred to their “learning experiences,” “tuition paid,” “detours,” and “opportunities for growth.”

Successful people don’t let failure go to their heads. Instead of dwelling on the negative consequences of failure, thinking of what might have been and how things haven’t worked out, they focus on the rewards of success: learning from their mistakes and thinking about how they can improve themselves and their situations.

—Your Road Map for Success – John Maxwell



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