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Failing Forward: How a Personal Growth Plan Helps You Make the Most of Your Mistakes

By Maxwell Leadership | July 19, 2022
Failing Forward: How a Personal Growth Plan Helps You Make the Most of Your Mistakes

If you could face failure without fear, what would you attempt to achieve? 

The idea of learning from our mistakes isn’t a new one, especially in the business world. But somehow, even the idea of failure is still anxiety-inducing in many of us. Even though we know that failure is an inevitable (and useful!) part of life, we still don’t feel prepared to face it. So, how do we not only fail forward and use our mistakes to our advantage but also feel confident facing failure in the first place?  

The Personal Growth Steps to Failing Forward 


First, we have to change our perception of failure, especially if we were raised to avoid it or have some perfectionist tendencies that keep us from risking failure. In his book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success, John C. Maxwell defines the concept of failing forward and states that the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. 

To improve your relationship failure, you have to treat it the way you would any other relationship in your life—with time and intention. If you spend time getting more comfortable with failure and are intentional in clarifying the role it plays in your life, you’ll start to view it as a natural and necessary step on your way to success—and not as something to fear. 


So often, when we do fail, our gut reaction is to pretend it never happened or downplay it. However, when we avoid addressing failure, we end up breeding more fear in ourselves and others, and we almost always guarantee that past mistakes will be repeated.  

So, what does facing and embracing failure look like? Whether you’re focused on your own personal growth or being a better leader to your team, embracing failure involves two things: having a growth mindset and creating a safe space to experiment and fail. If we acknowledge our mistakes and welcome failure as part of our growth process, we can turn even the greatest of missteps into a valuable learning opportunity. 

“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” – John C. Maxwell 


Finally, like every goal, overcoming our fear of failure requires a plan. We have to prepare to learn from our experience: set aside time to reflect, find resources to help us work through our thoughts, and ask people to help us process what went wrong. The only thing worse than failing alone is having to process that failure alone.  

At the end of the day, our ability to face failure with confidence starts by focusing on our personal growth—finding the resources and community we need to address the gaps in our growth, from our effective communication skills to our attitude and relationships. 

Because in life, it’s not a question of if we’ll experience failure, but how we’ll grow from it.  

Looking for more? 

Whether you’re looking for more on topics like this one or inspiration to fuel your leadership development and personal growth, we have you covered!  Check out best-selling titles from John C. Maxwell like Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success, the 25th anniversary edition of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, and more on our online store

You don’t have to grow alone!

With C.L.E.A.R. by Maxwell LeadershipÒ, you can join a community of people just like you who are focused on their personal growth and be mentored by our hand-picked C.L.E.A.R. Guides and leadership experts. Download our app to take your personal growth and leadership development resources with you wherever you go!  

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