Failing Forward: Why Making Mistakes is the Smartest Way To Grow

Ask anyone at the top how often they failed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was, “More times than I can count.”

Nobody likes making mistakes. But the truth of life is that making mistakes — and learning from your recovery — is an essential part of success. In fact, I would suggest that if you want to be successful too, you should aim to have as many failures under your belt as people like Stephen King, whose first book was rejected 30 times, or Colonel Sanders, who knocked on 1009 doors before finally getting a buyer for his first franchise ­model fried chicken restaurant. As Thomas Edison said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

Here are five reasons why you should be happy to fail.

1. Failure means you’re making progress

The more you fail, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the more you and your business will grow. Of course, failure isn’t our only teacher. We can learn from books, from mentors, and from listening to others. But believe me, we remember our lessons much better when there’s been a painful failure along the way.

2. Failure means you’re pushing beyond your comfort zone

Nothing life­changing or earth shattering ever happened in the comfort zone. If you want to succeed, it’s important to push yourself beyond those limits as much as possible. How do you know if you’re there? Well, you’re probably failing from time to time. As John C. Maxwell says in his book Failing Forward: How to Make the Most of Your Mistakes: “If you are succeeding in everything you do, then you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. And that means you’re not taking enough risks. You risk because you have something of value you want to achieve.”

3. Failure builds thick skin

To succeed in business, it’s helpful to have thick skin. It shields us from criticism and detractors, and gives us the armor we need to play in the big leagues. Every successful leader and entrepreneur has developed thick skin — partly as a result of their many failures.

4. Failure delivers big insights

Some of the most innovative insights come at our darkest moments. Whether it’s an idea for a new business, an insight into a new direction to take, or even just a self revelation that helps propel you forward, failure in a powerful place to learn.

5. Failure builds persistence

Do you know how many businesses Richard Branson has failed at? I’m not sure he can remember, either — but you can bet his persistence paid off. That level of persistence has made him a billionaire. As he says, “Learn from failure. If you are an entrepreneur and your first venture wasn’t a success, welcome to the club!”

Have you learned any big lessons from your business failures? Share them in the comments!

If you like this article, please read (and comment on) the book I am currently writing called All Leaders Make Mistakes