Seven Things Failure is Not According to Success Guru John C. Maxwell

by on January 27th, 2011
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As I continue my browsing of John C. Maxwell’s book “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success” I’m struck by his list of seven things that failure is not . These are simple statements, but quite profound once you spend some time pondering them:

People Think Failure is Avoidable — It’s Not

Wow, what an incredibly freeing statement. Everyone fails. Everyone . So quit beating yourself up for being imperfect.

People Think Failure is an Event — It’s Not
Maxwell compares failure to success: both are a process . He gives the example of failing a test in school. It wasn’t a one time event. You failed because you neglected the process (in this case studying) leading up to the test. Until you’ve actually died no one can say “you failed.” It is a process , a part of our life’s journey.

People Think Failure is Objective — It’s Not
When we mess up, who decides whether or not we actually failed? The answer is, we do. We are the only ones that can label our actions as a failure. It is completely and utterly subjective. Maxwell points out that most entrepreneurs fail three times in business before becoming a success. (As someone currently working on her first business, this was a bit disheartening, I must admit!) The encouraging aspect about this statistic is that these entrepreneurs chose not to see these setbacks as failures, but instead moved forward to achieving they ultimate business success.

People Think Failure is the Enemy — It’s Not
Don’t be afraid of failing. It’s not the enemy. You can learn very valuable lessons from making mistakes. In order to succeed, you have to give yourself permission to fail. If you don’t, Maxwell points you, you’ll just end up working for those that have conquered their fear of failing and are willing to take the risks.

People Think Failure is Irreversible — It’s Not
Maxwell reminds us to keep things in perspective. Failure is not the end of all things. It can be reversed. Remember life is a journey and a process, not a single event.

People Think Failure is a Stigma — It’s Not
We can sometimes think that failure means we are marked for life. Though a nature reaction, this is pretty foolish. No one need walk around with some scarlet “F” on their chest because they made mistakes. You don’t have let failure define you and get you down. We need to learn to see failure as a step toward success.

People Think Failure is Final — It’s Not
Just as failure doesn’t need to be a stigma, it never has to be final, no matter how dramatic and costly the failure. You can always (as long as you have breath in you) move forward in your journey toward success.

In this chapter Maxwell includes a simple diagram of labeled steps. In ascending order we have: “Afraid of Being a Fool”, “Looks Like a Fool”, “Fool”, “Successful Entrepreneur”, “Genius.”

If you’re like me, you’re most likely somewhere on those first three steps. I’d like to encourage you (and myself) to rethink your misconceptions about failure and keep climbing up!

John C. Maxwell. Failing Foward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success

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