Fail Forward

November 26, 2018

A Blog Post by Diana Henderson

Fail or Not to Fail?

When is the last time you tried something new? The more years we lived the less inclined we become to taking risks and trying new things. As humans we applaud those who reach great heights of achievements or conquer obstacles.

When a child takes their first steps our natural reaction is to cheer and celebrate their achievements, even though they fall down within moments of taking those steps. While we never judged a baby learning to walk for falling down, our expectations around achievements and failures shift as we judge our self and others.


How often do we try something for the first time, and then become discouraged that we weren’t immediately successful at it? In a world of unicorns and overnight success stories we can often feel as if we just aren’t good enough. Often times our motivation to try new things can come more from a desire to be recognised then an actual desire to master a new skill, or enjoy a new life experience. Failure, for many of us, has come to be defined as “not having immediate and profound success”

Of course, this is a ridiculous and completely unrealistic definition. If we change our attitude around failure from being one of defeat and instead focus on learning and forward momentum, we change the conversation.

Fail with others

Fail-Forward is how, from the very start of our life, we learn and gain skills. Often times that process of learning and upskilling can be accelerated when we Fail-Forward with others. When we risk failure with others it allows us to take greater risk while increasing the safety net. An old proverb says

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labour:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Be brave in a group

Collaboration allows us to try new things without as big of a risk. In essence it’s easier to be brave in a group then all alone. In businesses it is often those who are willing to take a risk who find success.

Do you have a Fail-Forward buddy?

Collaboration allows us to all Fail Forward together. And when we do fail (it’s inevitable) we are surrounded by a group of people who can give us a hand back up. If you are finding it hard to try new things in your business, maybe trying to collaborate with others is right for you. It is easier to take risk with others who have become comfortable with the process of “Fail- Learn- Adjust-Try Again”

Remember, the person who succeeds isn’t usually the one who was the most naturally talented, but instead the person who was willing to “Fail- Learn- Adjust-Try Again” one time more than anyone else was willing.

Success is not about outrunning, it’s about outlasting

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