Why Failing Forward?

I got this idea here, at an amazing blog I recommend you immediately check-out. I have gained a ton of inspiration and encouragement from reading Chris’s writing. And he has ridiculous adventures now and again, how can you beat that? 


Anyway, when I read that post “failing forward” popped into my mind and took up residence. Failure had already become something of a study of mine. I hate to fail and have, with ever-increasing horror/excitement, been coming to a place where I realize it is not only inevitable but it is also healthy and good. Failure can move you forward. Not failing might get you there faster, true enough. But as long as your failures lie along the same path you will eventually make progress.


I’m not saying every failure leads to success, or that every failure will move you forward. But I am saying this- you will fail. I will fail. A lot. This is non-negotiable. With that in mind- fail forward. When faced with standing still or moving ahead- move ahead. If you succeed, wonderful. If you fail, you are still further along. You have failed forward.


Don’t stand still and fail. Those are often smaller, less painful, less visible failures. But they will eat away at you until there is nothing left. And if you aren’t failing at all right now, watch yourself. That is a failure. Growth is painful and messy and filled with mistakes so if you can’t find any areas where you are failing then there probably aren’t any areas where you are growing either.


Don’t keep failing at the same lessons. If you are stuck in the same place, if you are making the same mistakes you were making last month or year, then get help. Find a teacher, read a book, confess publicly, find a partner, join a class- whatever your failure there is a way to get help. Asking though, asking takes humility.


Fail forward. Fail with gusto. Do things with the full knowledge that they will go badly and embrace that from the start. I had my first improv class a few days ago. I failed. Spectacularly and repeatedly throughout the morning. I failed to be funny. I failed to think fast on my feet. I failed to remember what I was supposed to be doing. I stood there with a stupid look on my face and no words in my mouth. Want to know how my instructor handles failure? He cheers. Whenever I messed-up in class he would lead my fellow improvees in clapping and cheering.


Failure is celebrated.




Because it means you are doing improv. Professional acts have dud jokes and awkward pauses during every performance. It’s part of working in front of a live audience. If you aren’t failing during improv it’s because you are keeping your mouth shut and not stepping up. And if you are keeping your mouth shut and not stepping-up  then you aren’t doing improv.


Now, take those last two lines and switch “improv” with “life”.

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