John C. Maxwell is one of my favorite authors. He has authored nearly 50 books over the years. He is currently a lecturer and writer mainly on the topic of TMW Maxwell Showflat Leadership. This is a review of his book: FAILING FORWARD (Turning Mistakes into stepping stones for success
Mr. Maxwell uses a collection of life experiences from people that experienced failure, learned from it and then moved forward to new opportunities to create success later in their lives. He encourages a few word changes in his approach. How do you view obstacles? Are they roadblocks that forever block all forward progress or something to detour around by seeking a workable solution? How do you then respond to the obstacles? If one stops all attempts to move forward to a goal, it would seem that the obstacle was bigger than the person. Maxwell says it best, “If your perception of and response to failure were changed, what would you attempt to achieve? ”
The only way to avoid failure is to do nothing. That would be a very boring life. Mr. Maxwell encourages us to embrace failure. He talks about “The Rules for being Human.
The inventor Thomas Edison produced a large volume of work while he sought solutions to obstacles of his lifetime. It is reported that he tried thousands of ways to harness light. Prior to the light bulb, the open flame on a candle or lantern or torch were the methods of lighting the darkness. Mr Edison was seeking results rather than being discouraged by attempts. Edison was asked if he considered himself to have been a failure with his 9, 000 failed attempts at creating a filament to harness light. He said that he simply found 8, 999 ways that didn’t work. Thankfully Edison persevered with each attempt until he found what worked.
“All roads to achievement lead through the land of failure. ” It is good that the path to a successful result is not impossible. Instead failure is the price paid on the toll road of life.
Choose to laugh at your failures. They will instruct more and have the chance to sting less. Mr. Maxwell illustrates the earliest days of flight in the contrast between the known (100 years later) Wright brothers and the (now) little known Dr Samuel P. Langley who had studied math and science in his day toward the goal of producing the first flying machine. Langley had written extensively about the projects he worked on for more than 20 years and had secured a large government contract to put a man in the air. Unwisely, he invited the press of the day to his first two attempts. Both met with failure and he backed off his decades long goal in misery and shame. His response to failure caused him to fail backwards.
Days later, the Wright brothers did achieve manned flight in North carolina. How could 2 bicycle mechanics succeed with no funding, very little education (compared to the scientist at least) and no press to record the event? Why invite reporters before you have news worthy of reporting, right? If the Wright brothers failed, they could work on corrections more quickly with less criticism to drain their energy. As bike mechanics, they had studied the art of propelling movement. Now they just racheted that movement up. They were trying to achieve fixed wing flight. It clearly has enabled many other innovators and thinkers to add to their results and make improvements ever since. Less than 100 years later, America sent people into outer space to walk on the moon. The history books have been teaching our children about the Wright brothers ever since. They must have experienced setbacks before that first day of flight for a few seconds. They learned from their failures, modified their approach and tried again.