Watching a child learning to walk is an epic lesson on failing forward. They try to stand, they fall. They try to stand again and they fall again. They discover they gain some balance and can come nearer to achieving their goal of standing by hanging on to something solid, such as a couch. They do this and after a wobbly moment, fall again.
After dozens and dozens of times failing, they have a breakthrough moment. They are standing! The child learns that they can take some steps while hanging onto something, anything as long as it is stable. A brave moment comes as they let go of the furniture, wall, or whatever support they were using and they take a wobbly step, then they fall again. And again. And again.
Their first unsupported steps in the wide open spaces are usually to a trusted parent who is coaxing them forward. The few steps are a stiff, side to side, Frankenstein like-walk.
Each failure brought development and advanced their goal of walking. The child failed forward until success occurred.
John Maxwell’s, book, Failing Forward – How to Make the Most of Your Mistakes, is a book on my “to-read” list. Maxwell writes, “The not-talked-about, terrible truth is that all roads to achievement lead through the land of failure. Every person you admire has walked this road: the Wright brothers, Arnold Palmer, Mary Kay Ash, Truett Cathey, Erma Bombeck, Tony Gwynn, Amelia Earhart, Sergio Zyman, Hank Aaron, George Bernard Shaw and Mother Teresa have all experienced failure and learned how to turn it into a stepping stone for success.” More at https://www.johnmaxwell.com/store/products.php?product=Failing-Forward
Life seems to be filled with new things that you and I need to step out and learn how to “walk.” Perhaps it is a new computer program at work, learning a foreign language, going back to school, programming a new coffee maker or learning to trust another person again.
I will not know John Maxwell’s 15 steps to turning mistakes into stepping stones for success until I read the book, but here is what I learned from children failing forward.
1. Keep trying.
2. Solid support is key at the early stages of learning or doing something new.
3. Trusting people who are coaxing, coaching and/or encouraging brings quicker success.
4. Learn from each failure and try again.
What new things are in your life that feel like learning to walk all over again? Comment here.