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Failing Forward by John Maxwell

Updated on February 17, 2016
Don't be discouraged over failures. | elycefeliz
Don't be discouraged over failures. | elycefeliz | Source

How many failures equal success? Am I a failure, or I just failed at something?

Fail Forward

While Rich Dad Poor Dad warns us of the rat race, Failing Forward saves us from the failure trap, and both authors Kiyosaki and Maxwell share the opinion that formal education can only do so much. Since this is a self-help book, the lessons come in order, and they are reiterated at the end of each chapter. There are suggested points and exercises for personal reflection and evaluation. Its format brings readers to a deeper self-awareness. It does not have to be strictly read in that order if a particular point concerns a person more at the time of reading.

Failing Forward challenges us to do something about our failures. Action is a must. Once we start to act, motivation follows. We are reminded not to wait for motivation to sink in first before we act. It is a daily going against the grain. At the end of reading, it is expected we are equipped and mobilized to fail forward again and again as long as circumstances allow it.

It hopes to reverse the negative mindset surrounding failures. There is a prevailing perception that committing mistakes should be avoided as much as possible. This time, author John Maxwell attacks failures in a positive angle that will make readers regard them as opportunities to grow both in character and ability. He supports the idea that one must have a mistake quota. On the contrary, the more we welcome mistakes, the more chances there are for success. Fantabulous, isn’t it?

Difference Between Average and Achieving People

Failing Backward
Failing Forward
blaming others
taking responsibility
repeating the same mistakes
learning from each mistake
expecting never to fail again
knowing failure is a part of progress
expecting to continually fail
maintaining a positive attitude
accepting tradition blindly
challenging outdated assumptions
being limited by past mistakes
taking new risks
thinking "I am a failure."
believing something did not work
Failing Forward (John. C. Maxwell) p. 8

Failures should not be counted by frequency but weighed by its influence on people – whether they make or break them thereafter. That is why the author emphasizes discipline in handling failures because they are more likely to happen before achieving a goal. There are demanding conditions.

Interestingly, misconceptions about failure are mentioned as well as the usual reactions when people fail. Readers can relate to these points one way or another for sure. Also, enumerated are seven abilities of achievers and the benefits of adversities. The title is a maxim in itself: fail forward. It is worth a one-liner of thought to remember. Dissect the word to f-o-r-w-a-r-d and remember, too, what each letter stands for.


Finalize your goal.

Order your plans.

Risk failing by taking action.

Welcome mistakes.

Advance based on your character.

Reevaluate your progress continually.

Develop new strategies to succeed.

Never give up. | Rondo1953
Never give up. | Rondo1953 | Source

First, is to examine oneself, both strengths and weaknesses before taking the big leap of change – a brave change. Second, is to begin again with a change in behavior and attitude. There is no denying, it is demoralizing to fail a couple of times. Maybe that is what is meant by reaching life’s breaking points. No excuses, no self-pity, only have a brighter perspective next time. A positive outlook,sense of humor and lots of laughter make up this formula.

Third, is to anticipate failures more but unlike before, keep steady, and maintain momentum. Focus hard and harder even and especially when at times family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers doubt already, and worse, pull us down. It is a fact. Sometimes we can only trust ourselves. Finally, is to be stubborn for your goal sake! Persistence and determination define successful people.

Seven Abilities of Achievers

Achievers see failure as temporary
Achievers see failures as isolated incidents.
Achievers keep expectations realistic.
Achievers focus on strengths.
Achievers vary approaches to achievement.
Achievers bounce back.
Achievers reject rejection.
Failing Forward (John C. Maxwell) pp. 27-30

Again, instructions like these are easier said than done, but they are guidelines to begin with. Readers can expect more details in the book coupled with stories of noted and ordinary people and their trying moments before they become successful. The anecdotes help make each of the steps presented realistic, avoiding farfetched pieces of advice. Maxwell inserts insightful quotes of famous people in his explanations every now and then, which make the discussion not limited to his point-of-view.

Success | Nila Sivatheesan
Success | Nila Sivatheesan | Source

The Benefits of Adversity

creates resilience
develops maturity
pushes the envelop for accepted performance
provides greater opportunities
prompts innovation
recaps unexpected benefits
Failing Forward (John C. Maxwell) pp. 115-118

The book recharges and redirects me to be reasonable with personal failures. I think it has more than redefine what failure is and should be.

I recommend Failing Forward to those who think they are born to fail only because of all the mistakes in their lives.

15 Steps To Fail Forward

1 | Realize major differences between average and achieving people.
6 | Don't let the failure from outside get inside of you.
11 | If at first you do succeed, try something harder.
2 | Learn a new definition of failure.
7 | Say good-bye to yesterday.
12 | Learn from a bad experience and make it a good experience.
3 | Remove the "you" from failure.
8 | Change yourself, and your world changes.
13 | Work on the weakness that weakens you.
4 | Take action and reduce your fear.
9 | Get over yourself and start giving yourself.
14 | Understand there is not much difference between failure and success.
5 | Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.
`10 | Find the benefit in every bad experience.
15 | Get up, get over it, get going.
Failing Forward (John C. Maxwell) pp. 191-192

© 2011 chelle


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    • silkwormy profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Manila, PH

      teaches12345 Hi and thank you for following me and leaving me a fan mail. That's so kind a gesture and encouragement. I still have to write the "great" and "interesting" topics, though. Good thing you have had a personal encounter with John Maxwell. Yes, this book tells a lot about failing, and it's worth the read. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I am happy for your accomplishments as a hubber. For that, congratulations! :))

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      John Maxwell is one of our teaching pastors at church. I am blessed by getting to hear him throughout the year. His books are valuable in building character and leadership. Your book review is good and gives readers a great example of how failing (learning from it) can be overcome.

    • silkwormy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manila, PH

      If you've been experiencing failures lately and you need a push to keep going without losing heart, you may find a friend in this book. Thank you Binaya.Ghimire for commenting. Fail forward!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Failing Forward sounds interesting, perhaps next time I'm in the store I will look for the book.


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