Always fail forward and learn from your mistakes

Wednesday March 18 2020

But you can choose how you react to your difficulties. And turn failures into learning experiences. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP


We all fail sometimes, and it never feels good.

But what really matters is how you respond. Because no one can guarantee success. There’ll always be too many things outside of your control that can go wrong.

But you can choose how you react to your difficulties. And turn failures into learning experiences.

That was demonstrated in a famous study which asked two groups to do a management task. One group was told the exercise would measure their management abilities.

The other was told it was an opportunity to develop their management skills. In fact, the test was designed to be impossible, and so no one succeeded.

What’s interesting is that the first group felt like failures because their skills didn’t measure up. And they didn’t improve when they were given the opportunity to try again.


But the second group analysed their failure, and performed better on their second attempt.


The takeaway? You can either see failure as a sign that you’re not up to the job, or as an opportunity for improvement. So, the next time something goes wrong, rethink your approach, rather than giving up.

Like perfection doesn’t actually exist. So don’t make that your target. Aiming for perfection always leaves you feeling inadequate, which makes you want to give up, instead of being excited about what you’ve achieved and what you’ll accomplish in the future.

And that makes a huge difference. Ask Henry Ford, whose first two car businesses failed before he started the Ford Motor Company.

It’s only after you have finally succeeded, that you realise that the failures were an essential part of the journey.

Your attitude towards being productive is also critical. It’s easy to be busy, running to meetings and endlessly sending e-mails.

But does any of that actually produce anything? Success doesn’t come from being busy, it comes from being productive. It’s your output that counts, not your effort.


Think about the people you associate with. Hopefully they inspire you, and help you to improve. But not everyone will support you.

In fact, most people won’t. Many will forever smother you in negativity. Don’t waste your energy trying to win them over.

Because your self-worth must come from within. So, whenever you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone else’s opinions to take that away from you.

And don’t diminish your achievement by comparing it unfavourably with someone else’s accomplishments.

In fact, your biggest challenges will always be inside your own head. Regretting past mistakes, or feeling anxious about something that may never happen.

And losing sight of the one thing that you can actually control. Now, above all, don’t be afraid to take risks.

Because doing something new is always going to be scary. But once you’ve made your first move, your anxieties will disappear. Procrastination only prolongs the suffering.

So, you can be successful! You just need the right attitude. Always failing forward. And learning from your mistakes.

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