Failing Forward - How to Learn From Your Failures to Succeed in Business

Paula Fournier
September 22, 2023
5 min read

I'm Too Scared to Fail, Even More Scared to Try! How Do I Move Forward?

The concept of “failing forward” gained popularity in the early 2000's and was authored by John C. Maxwell in his book, “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success.” The argument is that failure is necessary to learn. Easy success has no learning curve. We should embrace our failures, study them and learn from them in order to have growth and development. Many entrepreneurs emphasize the importance of resilience, willingness to learn and adaptability as prime examples of why they are successful.

Why is it good to fail?

When we succeed, we never look at it and say, "What can I learn from this?". We celebrate. It's when we fail, that we analyze.

As a health coach running a small business, you may be all too familiar with the concept of failing forward. This refers to the idea that failure is not something to be feared, but rather an inevitable part of the learning process that can help us grow and succeed in the long run.

While it may seem counterintuitive to embrace failure, especially when it comes to something as important as running a business, there are a number of reasons why failing forward can actually be a highly effective strategy. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key reasons why this approach works, and how you can apply it to your own health coaching business. 

Failure is a learning opportunity!

Are you feeling down about failing? Don't be! Failing can actually be a great learning opportunity, and it's all about how you approach it.

First things first, failing is not the end of the world. It's not a sign of weakness or incompetence. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Failing means you have the courage to try something new, to take a risk, and to put yourself out there. And that's something to be proud of.

But more importantly, failing can teach us a lot about ourselves and the world around us. When we fail, we're forced to take a step back and evaluate what went wrong. Maybe we made a mistake, maybe we didn't prepare enough, or maybe we just got unlucky. Whatever the reason, failing gives us a chance to reflect on our actions and learn from our mistakes.

And that's where the real learning opportunity comes in. By analyzing our failures, we can identify our weaknesses and areas that need improvement. We can also develop strategies to overcome these challenges and prevent similar failures in the future.

But failing isn't just about improving our performance. It's also about developing important life skills, like resilience, perseverance, and grit. When we fail, we're forced to pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, and try again. And each time we do that, we become stronger and more capable of handling whatever life throws our way.

So the next time you fail, don't beat yourself up about it. Embrace it as a learning opportunity and use it as a chance to grow and improve. Remember, failing is just a temporary setback, but the lessons you learn from it can last a lifetime.

Failing leads to innovation!

Have you ever heard the saying, "necessity is the mother of invention"? Well, it turns out that failure can also be a major driver of innovation. That's right, when things don't go according to plan, it can actually spark new ideas and creative solutions.

When we fail, we're forced to think outside the box and come up with new approaches to solve the problem at hand. We're also more likely to take risks and try things we wouldn't have considered before. And sometimes, those risks pay off in unexpected ways.

Take the story of Post-It notes, for example. In the 1970s, a 3M researcher named Spencer Silver was working on developing a super-strong adhesive. Instead, he accidentally created a weak adhesive that barely stuck to anything. Silver considered his invention a failure, but a colleague named Art Fry saw its potential. Fry realized that the weak adhesive could be used to create reusable bookmarks that would stick to paper without leaving a residue. And thus, the Post-It note was born.

Or consider the story of Alexander Fleming, the scientist who discovered penicillin. Fleming had been conducting experiments on bacteria when he left for a two-week vacation. When he returned, he discovered that a mold had contaminated one of his petri dishes, killing the bacteria around it. Rather than seeing this as a failure, Fleming recognized the mold's potential as a powerful antibiotic.

These stories are a few examples of how failure can lead to innovation. But it's not just famous inventors who can benefit from this mindset. Anyone can use failure as an opportunity to think creatively and come up with new solutions to old problems.

So the next time you fail, don't despair. Instead, embrace it as a chance to innovate and come up with something unique. Who knows? You might stumble upon the next great idea.

Failure leads to resilience!

Failure is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, and it's not easy to acknowledge. But did you know that failure can actually lead to resilience? That's right, facing and overcoming failure can help us become stronger and more resilient in the face of adversity.

When we fail, we're forced to confront our limitations and weaknesses. We may feel embarrassed, disappointed, or even ashamed. But as we work through these feelings and begin to pick ourselves up again, we start to build resilience.

Resilience is all about bouncing back from setbacks and adapting to new challenges. Failure is a great teacher when it comes to developing these skills. When we fail, we learn to persevere through tough times, to keep going even when things get difficult. We learn to identify our mistakes and make changes to avoid similar failures in the future.

But resilience isn't just about our ability to overcome failure. It's also about our mindset. When we develop resilience, we learn to view failure as a necessary part of growth and development. We recognize that every failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become better.

And the more we practice resilience, the more it becomes a habit. We start to approach challenges with a growth mindset, embracing the opportunity to learn and improve. We become more adaptable, more resourceful, and more confident in our ability to handle whatever life throws our way.

So the next time you fail, don't give up. Embrace it as an opportunity to build resilience and become stronger. Remember, failure is just a temporary setback, but the skills and mindset you develop as a result can last a lifetime.

Failure teaches accountability!

When we experience failure, it's natural to feel disappointed, frustrated, or even embarrassed. But instead of pointing fingers and blaming others, failure can actually teach us about accountability. Taking responsibility for our actions and owning up to our mistakes is a powerful way to grow and learn from our failures.

  • Accountability means being answerable for our actions, both good and bad.
  • Failure provides an opportunity to reflect on our own behaviors and take ownership of our mistakes. Rather than blaming others or external circumstances, we should focus on what we could have done differently and how we can improve in the future.
  • Taking accountability for our failures can be difficult, but it's a crucial step in personal and professional development.
  • Demonstrating our willingness to learn from our mistakes and make changes to avoid similar failures in the future shows growth and maturity. 
  • Accountability also helps us build trust and credibility with others by showing our integrity and commitment to doing the right thing.
  • Following through on commitments and taking action to make things right is another important aspect of accountability.
  • Failure can be used as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to address those challenges.
  • Developing a habit of accountability can lead to benefits in all areas of our lives, including increased reliability, trustworthiness, and confidence in handling challenges and pursuing opportunities.

Failure is not the end, it’s a learning experience, if you let it be, in accountability, among other things. By taking responsibility for our actions and owning up to our mistakes, we can grow and learn from our failures, build trust and credibility with others, and become more confident in our ability to handle challenges. 

The Wrap Up

You might also consider seeking out feedback and support from other business owners or mentors who have experience in your field. Talking through your failures with others can help you to gain new perspectives and insights, and can also help you to feel less alone in your struggles.

Ultimately, the key to making failing forward work in your health coaching business is to embrace a mindset of curiosity and learning. Rather than seeing failures, try to view them as opportunities to grow and develop as a business owner and as a coach. With time and practice, you may find that this approach not only helps you to achieve greater success in your business, but also brings more joy and fulfillment to your work. When we succeed, we never look at it and say, "What can I learn from this?". We celebrate. It's when we fail that we analyze. 

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