June 16 • 01:41 AM

Book highlights benefits of learning to 'fail forward'

April 09, 2008
Purchased once at a rummage sale and recently relegated to the Goodwill pile was a book by New York Times best-selling author John Maxwell. The book, titled Failing For-ward; and published in 2000, is about turning mistakes into stepping stones for success.

When I bought the book, I did so because it had a Book of the Month emblem on the cover and because I knew a little something about the author's leadership principles. I was fascinated, as well, by the title.

But I had never gotten around to reading it.

Now that it sat atop that pile destined for Goodwill, I couldn't quite let it go without checking it out. The flyleaf got me. The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure, suggests Maxwell.

Hmmm. That's a concept worth pursuing, I thought. And I was hooked.

Maxwell says things like: "I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway. Because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!"

Throughout the book are little blurbs, highlighted so I gained a huge amount of insight just doing a quick little walk through the book. Maxwell uses quotes like these: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up''—Thomas Edison; and "In science, mistakes always precede the truth''—Horace Walpole.

Based on his own "mountain to climb experience", he says:

People change when they...

Hurt enough that they have to,

Learn enough that they want to, and

Receive enough that they are able to.

"I learned the truth of that statement on a whole new level on December 18, 1998," says Maxwell. "While at my company's Christmas party, I felt an excruciating pain in my chest, and I went down for the count. I suffered a serious heart attack. By the way, a mild heart attack is when it's yours; a serious heart attack is when it's mine! Honestly, though, I thought I wasn't going to make it that night. And my doctors later told me that if I'd had the experience four years ago, it would have killed me. Cardiologists didn't possess the technology that saved my life until very recently. My heart attack was a painful and surprising experience, but I feel that God was very good to me in that process. Excellent physicians rallied around me and made it possible for me not only to survive but to avoid any permanent heart damage. And I've learned a lot from it, for example:

*When it comes to telling the important people in your life how much you love them, you can never do it often enough.

*I believe my work on earth is not yet finished and God has spared me so that I can complete it.

*I must change my living habits for the sake of my health, the quality of my life, and the impact I desire to make in the future."

If I gleaned that much from the book just by rifling through it, I guess I'd better keep it and read it. Call me if you'd like to read it when I've finished.

Castle Creek
06 - 16 - 19
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