To achieve your highest potential, you must learn how to fail forward. For the wide majority of humans, life is not easy and we’re faced with many challenges. How your perceive and respond to these challenges determines your ability to succeed.
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For the most part, my life has felt like one big “do over.” I’ve succeeded here, and failed there. A cycle that seemed to be two steps forward, and one (or more) steps back.
To know me today, you’d think that I had it all together. I do, most of the time, but only because I’ve used the moments when things were falling apart, to find strength and God’s magnificence. I’ve been able to do that, quite simply, because of an inner belief that everything, even failure, is preparing me for something better.
For the wide majority of humans, life is not easy. We certainly have times when it feels as if nothing could go wrong, but for the most part, we’re faced with many challenges. Challenges viewed as opportunities, make life a giant work-in-progress.
As an adult, I’ve struggled with this notion, somehow thinking that I had done something wrong to have endured so many challenges in my life. But now, I understand that the challenges are the reason why I am who I am today. They were preparation, not punishment.
You see… the greatest successes in the world, from Olympians to politicians, to business leaders and innovators, were always preceded by incredible failures. Deep down, we KNOW this to be true, but in our own lives, we still avoid failure like it was the plague.
Not me. I am VERY comfortable with failure, now. Being an entrepreneur will do that, but so will a life based on a deep commitment to personal growth.
So, I have a major life notion for you - to achieve your highest potential, you must learn how to fail forward.
The greatest successes in the world, from Olympians to politicians, to business leaders and innovators, were always preceded by incredible failures. Deep down, we KNOW this to be true, but in our own lives, we still avoid failure like it was the plague.
The Struggle is Real…But So is the Reward
To fail forward means to purposefully and deliberately use failure to find success. It’s a conscious process that first requires us to give up the obsessive need to be perfect. Life is perfectly imperfect, and so are we. When we try to be perfect, we limit our ability to grow, because we stay in our comfort zone and avoid even healthy risks. When we seek perfection, we limit the power of the divine.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prepare, or anticipate challenges, or assess risk. To the contrary - the basis of failing forward is to get better at mitigating risk and at the same time not hold ourselves back. To fail forward, we must DO or TRY something new – something we want to do but are afraid to do. We have to step out there, even if we don’t know where the path will lead. We must approach life with the adage: “try it and see what happens.”
My risks have always led to bigger rewards, even though it may not have felt like it at the time. Looking back, I know this to be true for both personal and professional risk. I now KNOW that the will of God will not take me, where the grace of God cannot keep me; but I know this ONLY because I’ve pushed past every fear I’ve ever had.
Terri's 3 Tips to Learn How to Fail Forward
1) Start Small
If you’re just now learning how to give up the need to be perfect, and truly desire more from your life, you don’t have to face the giant fears right out of the gate. Start small. Find one small thing that you’re afraid of and start there. I started with my fear of heights. I used to hyperventilate at the slightest elevation, and it made vacations frustrating because everyone else would enjoy the sights, while I was terrified.
2) Regain Control
Believe it or not, we have 100% control over our thoughts and feelings. Not 50%, or even 75%. Most of us don’t use this power and instead are held hostage to doubts, negative voices and fear. Take your control back. You can train yourself to eliminate negative thinking, and instead, replace it with positive thoughts. Positive thoughts generate good vibes, and before you know it – you’ll be feeling better. I’ve learned that life is simply a big classroom. We attract what we need to heal. When something happens that triggers a fear, I change my perspective about it, and I accept that God simply has something better in store for me if I choose to control my thoughts and focus on the good to come.
Before you take this last tip, I want to warn you. It will seem hard at first, until you think about it differently. I developed a tool called a Life Map. In the Life Map, we go back and map out our lives – all the twists and turns. We look at every major crossroad and negative event. What happened after the major event, as in the nextyear? Did something good follow it? The answer is almost always yes.
That is because change is part of the process. Change is God’s way of moving us to something better. Once I grasped this concept, doing what I am going to suggest in this last tip became much easier. When I break open my fears, and face them – beautiful new things are born. So, the last tip is to FACE EVERY FEAR – head on!
3) Face Every Fear
This will sound scary, but if you want true freedom and control over your life, you must face every fear. Most fears are irrational and based on the ego’s need to control. When you face your fears, you take control back and move forward in peace.
Let’s get real. Failure is part of life. If you’re not failing, you’re not giving it all you got. Redefine failure and use it to Fail Forward.
Known as part Wayne Dyer and part Richard Branson, Terri is a world class business growth expert, serial entrepreneur, and life transformation coach with a purpose to inspire potential. In a career that spans more than 25 years, she has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 brands. She has authored several books, and created game-changing models for business and personal success. Terri is the Founder and CEO of Succeed On Purpose Inc.
I learned to “assume positive intent,” meaning no matter what another person says or does, rather than immediately judging them, I instead would assume positive intent. I assumed they meant well or were doing their best.