019-2020 Failing Forward

Title: Failing Forward (Turning mistakes into stepping stones for success)

Author: John C. Maxwell

Hi there, and I hope you had a great chance already to read some of the reviews this year so far. I hope with the next one you may also see some benefit and give the book a chance.

This was my first book from this author, and I strongly believe that I will give a chance for his other books as well some time in the future. But for now, I want to tell you what I learnt from this book, and why I think many more can grasp the benefit from the book.

The book is broken up into 15 steps the author believes are necessary to change your perspective on what failure is, and how changing your perspective can ultimately determine whether you will yet achieve success in that activity, or not.

I have listed all the steps below, but want to only go into more depth on a few of them:

1…Realize that there is one major difference between average people and achieving people

2…Learn a new definition of failure

  • The message that I got from this step was that we should redefine failure to having made a mistake, and learning from it to better ourselves for the future.
  • If you change your mindset to reclassify a failure to something that you can and/or need to improve, then you open yourself up to change

3…Remove the “you” from failure

4…Take action and reduce your fear

  • Fear for/of something can/keeps us from sometimes engaging into something new. This fear started with a past event, and could be the hindrance to us exploring something new. Not taking on new risks or opportunities are due to the festered fear cycle.
  • The fear cycle starts off with 1) the fear we have for something in the past. Due to this fear we 2) don’t take action (ie. we avoid getting ourselves in a situation where we become confronted with this fear). This inaction results in 3) us not gathering experience (experience to build our skills), and not gaining experience can result in 4) our inability to deal with new/tough situations (ie. due to a low level of exposure to the feared event we didn’t build our skills to deal with the event should we be confronted with such an event).
  • To shed more light on that, let’s go through an example. You had to speak in public once, and it didn’t go so well (you fear this outcome will happen again, if you try it again). At school, university and work events you don’t take the role of leadership. Through this inaction you didn’t take the chance to build up your skills of becoming a better speaker in public. As work longer in the same firm, eventually you gain seniority and become the leader for others. Now, somewhere you are expected to hold a presentation in front of colleagues or even the client. However, now your fear is awakened, but this time, it’s far stronger.
  • This cycle could be applied to different situations, but ultimately the message remains the same.

5…Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility

  • In taking the step of changing your perspective of what failure is, we need to at first acknowledge that we did something wrong. Thus, taking responsibility for the mistake, and learning from that for the future.

6…Don’t let the failure from outside get inside you

7…Say good-bye to yesterday

8…Change yourself, and your world changes

  • The message that came through with this step was that our attitude is one of the strongest influencers on our life. Our attitude not only reflects to us personally, but also to those around us. If our definition of failure is not of learning from the mistake, the outside perceives that as well, and they might be less inclined to work with us, since they have a preview of what will come their way should a failure occur.

9…Get over yourself, and start giving yourself

  • I believe this also comes close to one of the lessons that you will learn from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Probably even one of the first lessons. Stopping to think of yourself only, and also thinking of others. Being there for others as well.

10…Find the benefit in every bad experience

  • Every experience we have is either good or bad. However, if you convert your perception of what a bad experience is (ie. to something that you learn from) then such an experience can even be re-categorized as a good experience.

11…If at first you do succeed, try something harder

12…Learn from a bad experience, and make from it a good experience

13…Work on the weakness that weakens you

14…Understand there’s not much difference between failure and success

15…Get up, get over it, and get going

  • The final thing, that you should see failure as something that can be overcome, and not something that pushes you down, and keeps you down. If you got the message from the second lesson, then the final lesson will make more sense, since an error is seen now as something you need to improve, and carry on going.

The book is one in a series of four, all of which focus on the REAL concept. R = relationships ; E = Equipping ; A = attitude (this book) ; and L = leadership. The book is mainly set up to have you see the potential benefits that you can get when the thing that holds you back is your attitude.


Personal development is something that we need to keep working on on a continuous basis since there’s always room for improvement in our personal and professional environments. The book is great for getting you started since it can be applied to the smallest events, and worked up to even bigger events. The book thus gets a rating from me of 4.5/5

I hope the book gives you as much pleasure as it did me.

Keep well!

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