“Failing Forward” is a book whose fundamental premise is that there are no failures, just learning experiences. This book talks about the change in mindset needed to accept and learn from failures. To make it more concrete, the author introduces a few action items that one can use to learn to fail forward. This book is aimed at a general audience.
The fundamental ideas in this book are summarized below
Failure is all in the mind
There is a very thin line separating success and failure
People who learn from “failures” become achievers
I have posted the excerpts below. The author has expanded on each of the points below and give a lot of examples/stories which elucidate that particular point.
If you haven’t read self-help books, this book is worth a read. On the other hand, experience readers might not derive too much value from this book.
I was excited when I started reading this book given its high rating on Goodreads. Now that I have finished it, I feel that I have been oversold on its merits. The book felt like reading a long 200 page “Reader’s Digest” magazine and that is damning in my eyes. Ultimately, this book falls prey to the most common problem that other self-help books have – only people who want to change, will change and reading this book is not going to change your feelings one way or the other.
Redefining Failure & Success
The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.
Train for failure vs training for success
Learn a new definition of failure
Failures are not avoidable
Failures are not specific events
Failure is not objective
Failure is not an enemy
Failure is reversible
Failure is not a stigma
Failure is not final
It’s all in how you look at it and learn.
Remove the “you” from failure
Think of it as a failed attempt; you are not a failure
Failures are temporary & isolated; look at the bigger picture
Examine your expectations from an area that you have consistently failed on
Find new ways to do your work
Focus on your strengths
Vow to bounce back
Take action and reduce fear
Don’t personalize fear
Prior negative experiences leads to a fear of failure. This leads to inaction which leads to inexperience. This culminates in an inability to perform an action, which feeds back into the fear.
Fear of failure stops forward progress. People tend to be paralyzed, procrastinate or do not have purpose.
Break this fear by not denying it, but by performing the action anyway. This will break the fear cycle and you will gather momentum towards succeeding in that activity.
Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility
If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.
People react to failure by getting angry, lying about it, doing it the same way again and again, and by giving up.
Autobiography in 5 short chapters
Chapter 1 – I walk down a street. I do not see a hole. I fall into it. I am lost. I am helpless. It is not my fault. It takes me a long time to get out
Chapter 2 – I walk down the street. I pretend not to see the hole. I fall into it. I can’t believe I am in the same place again but it is not my fault. It takes me a long time to get out
Chapter 3 – I walk down the street. I see the hole but I still fall into it. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4 – I walk down the street. I see the hole. I walk around it.
Chapter 5 – I walk down a different street to get to where I want.
Do You Mind Changing Your Mind?
Don’t let failure from outside get you
Failure/success are states of mind
A positive attitude works wonders
Say goodbye to yesterday
Change yourself and the world changes
Get over yourself and start giving yourself
Stop focusing on yourself
Stop taking yourself too seriously
Start adding value to others continually
Put others in your thinking first
Find out what others need
Meet the need with excellence and generosity
Embracing Failure as a Friend
Find the benefit in every experience
Adversity creates resilience
Adversity develops maturity
Adversity helps to push the envelope
Adversity provides greater opportunities
Adversity prompts innovation
Adversity reaps unexpected benefits
If you succeed, try something harder
Learn from a bad experience and make it a good experience
Increase the Odds for Your Success
Work on the weakness that weakens you
Poor people skills
A negative attitude
A bad fit
Lack of focus
A weak commitment
An unwillingness to change
A shortcut mindset
Relying on talent alone
A response to poor information
Understand there’s not much difference between success and failure
The power of persistence
Find a purpose
Get up, get over it, get going
Finalize your goal
Order your plans
Risk falling by taking action
Advance based on your character
Reevaluate your progress continually
Develop new strategies to succeed