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How to make sense of failure and fail forward in life

Updated on September 19, 2011
lemmyC profile image

Ben is scientist, teacher, researcher and author who loves to help you to be more, do more and achieve more. He is an Amazon kindle author

Learn the principle of great achievers!

“Failure is, in a sense the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly what is true.”

-John Keats

Success is a habit so also is failure. We feel terrible at the sound of the word ‘failure.’ Failure is an experience; for us to make good use of the experience we nee to learn from the experience. If we are courageous and confident in our success journey we need to welcome failure and learn the lesson from it. Successful people fail forward. What does it mean?They work on the premise that there is no failure but feedback. They take failure as a feedback to a process that has been flawed. In other to make progress they analyse the situation and use the feedback as basis for further experience.

Below is a summary of different themes that can be applies in any experience of failure so as to benefit from the experience.

·See failure as an experience

·Analyze the experience

·Find the lesson they taught

·It’s possible that the time invested to study failure could lead to success. This possible by applying the feedback as information for further practice

·Mastering the art of dealing with failure could become the basis of converting defeat as a stepping stone for opportunity

The diagram below taken from the book “Teach yourself leadership” by Catherin Doherthy and John Thompson describes how to deal with failure

There is no failure



Receive feedback‘Thank you’






Give feedback

The feedback loop

The diagram suggests that there is no failure but feedback. The outcome or result should be treated as data so as to become aware or the reason for the outcome. On proper evaluation of the circumstance, you have to decide on the choice to make. Either to follow through and gain experience that will enable you to perform better next time – develop and grow, or just do nothing. The result is for having a feedback is then fed into the loop. The application of the result will helps you to perform better next time.


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    • lemmyC profile image

      Ben 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks Happyboomerurse for your comments

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Great tips for handling feedback in a way that helps point the direction toward future success.

      I also think it's important not to internalize a feeling of failure when we have failed at something. Following the suggestions listed here automatically helps a person differentiate between the present failure and viewing themselves as a total failure which is vitally important for future success.

      Voted up and useful.