So you’ve biffed it. Screwed up. Really messed it over. Now what?
Failure is the “F” word that hurts way worse than that other four-letter word. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know how to “Fail Forward,” you can go from one glorious failure to the next while making tremendous progress. Here are some tips:
- Be Honest. Don’t minimize or maximize the failure, but look it straight in the eye and own your part in it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t justify your actions or blame others. Until you are brutally honest, you can’t learn from your failings.
You say, “Yeah, I borrowed way too much money for my current income and now I’ve lost my (business, car, marriage, etc.)” An honest appraisal of the situation is the foundation for failing forward. Don’t be afraid to say, “That was a failure.” But be careful that you don’t label yourself as a failure.
- Check your Paradigm. Is failure a dirty word in your world? Is it a shameful reflection of your worth, intelligence, or capabilities? If so, you need to shift this paradigm to something much more empowering. Replace old, negative, disempowering thoughts with resilient responses that will propel you forward rather than keep you stuck.
Get a list of great quotes on failure and not quitting, and plaster these every where you can think of. One of my favorites is, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar. Read bios of people who overcame major failures before creating success in their lives. That would be pretty much everyone who is a true success!
- Get Feedback. Consult with a mentor or trusted friend who has your best interest at heart. Be honest with them and get their perspective on what went wrong and how to correct it in the future.
Hopefully, they will validate your worth and encourage you to keep progressing in your quest. They may be able to offer a wise perspective that never occurred to you and shift your paradigm positively.
- Take Control. Decide what choices created the problem and put in place safeguards to avoid repeating the mistake. These safeguards might be people or processes that will divert future bad choices.
When Dave Ramsey, the debt-free financial guru lost a fortune at a young age, his “take control” decision was, “Never go into debt again.” That simple decision to change a process which created failure has propelled him to a wildly successful career. He didn’t make the same mistake twice!
- Find the Opportunity. “The closed door swings open on the same hinges.” (I just made that up!) The very factor that created failure, may create an opportunity for a different success. You just need to reach out and push hard!
Is there a different direction you could take your effort? Is there a different angle that might create a new opportunity? You may be able to salvage success from the fragments of failure.
When Thomas Edison was at the height of his fame, one of the largest buildings at his scientific campus burst into flames in the middle of the night. Fire engines from all the surrounding communities came but they could do nothing to save the burning structure and everything in it. Edison’s life work was consumed in the inferno. His son ran up to his father and asked what to do.
Edison said, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again!” And then, even though he was 67 years old and exhausted with all the chaos of the evening, he started organizing his staff the next day to rebuild.
Imagine if we could be like Edison and see the opportunities in every setback!
- Create a new Vital Vision. Craft a visual image of your new success. Make a Pinterest board, screen saver, poster or other powerful elucidation of yourself as successful (however you define it). Use these images as prompts for a five times daily habit of envisioning yourself using failure as a stepping stone to future victories.
Use your five senses to imagine how success looks, feels, tastes, sounds, and even smells. Activating all your senses in imagery makes the brain more convinced of its reality. Morning, evening, and before every meal would be a good time to bring to life your Vital Vision.
- Take Action. There is a genius in “Ready, Fire, Aim” that is empowering and propels us forward. Too many post-mortems are stultifying. Take some immediate action to get your feet and mind moving forward. Make that phone call. Go to that convention. Reserve that new domain name.
Learning to Fail-Forward is an important skill set for ultimate success because failure is simply the other side of the same coin. As long as you don’t make the same mistakes, you are still moving forward!