What is failing forward? It is the concept of using your failure to propel you to your next great endeavor. We all make mistakes. We take a wrong path, agree to lead a project that consumes our time and energy for little reward. We say the wrong thing in a meeting. Whether your failure is large or small, there is a lesson to be learned and a way to use that new knowledge to help move you forward on your career path.
In the article 4 Ways I Fail Forward on a Daily Basis and Why You Should Do the Same, the author Jim Joseph, offers some encouraging words for recovery and moving forward. The first of which is music to my ears:
If it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it, then I’m going to embrace this notion and take more risks. This newfound attitude gives me tremendous permission to try new things and see if they’ll work. If they don’t, then at least I’ve tried and learned. And by the way, maybe they won’t all fail!
Exercising your “risk muscle” is an important strategy when you are climbing the business ladder to your ultimate goal and along the way you may experience a hiccup (i.e. failure). Use that experience as a failing forward moment.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Jim Joseph shares his philosophy of failing forward for himself and his team:
I’m learning to fail forward on a daily basis, not only for myself but for my teams as well. As a business leader, I need to create an environment where failing forward is accepted and embraced as part of a learning culture that seeks continuous improvement. For me and my teams, that improvement includes actively learning from our individual and collective mistakes.
Being in an environment that accepts and welcomes failure, or as a business leader – creating that environment, is a healthy way to be creative in your problem solving. If you view failure as a lesson, an opportunity, rather than the END, you will be more inclined to try different solutions.
In the Business Insider a couple years ago, they chronicled 15 life changing products that happened because someone failed at their original goal. These are just some examples of the product of failing forward:
Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness. Oprah Winfrey
Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!!
As you look to advance in your career, it will require flexing that “risk muscle.” Is it worth the uncomfortable feeling of stretching yourself beyond the norm? Is it worth running the risk of failing? One business woman says “YES” in all caps.
And so should you. Let’s embrace failing forward and then welcome where that takes us in our careers.
JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.