From this moment forward
stop saying fail forward.
Lots of well-meaning people are using the expression, “fail forward”. And it makes me cringe every time I hear it. In fact, I’m actually pretty darn sick of hearing it. Especially from people I like and/or respect. I wish they’d stop using that nonsensical phrase and get back to much more appropriate words. And I know it’s important to pick your battles wisely. And I realize this isn’t the wisest battle I could pick. But this stuff is rearing its ugly head so much lately I’ve just gotta throw in my million dollars perspective.
Fail forward is wrong because it has the word “fail” in it.
Merriam Webster…that’s a well-known dictionary…defines the word “fail” like this:
1. a: to lose strength
b: to fade or die away
c: to stop functioning normally
2. a: to fall short
b: to be or become absent or inadequate
c: to be unsuccessful
d: to become bankrupt or insolvent
Now, be honest with me. Do any of those definitions sound like something you want to do fast and often? I hope not. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not a crime or a sin to lose strength or fade/die away or stop functioning normally. It’s normal and expected to fall short in your life. Many times in fact. You shouldn’t be concerned if you find yourself absent or inadequate from time to time. And even billionaires have experienced bankruptcy, insolvency, and unsuccessful ventures. But here’s the key point…
Don’t “embrace failure” or be glad to “fail forward” or “fail fast and fail often”
Certainly you should expect obstacles. And you should expect to discover some you won’t be able to overcome. Those will make you stumble. Some might set you back a few steps Or make you change your approach. But you ONLY “fail” when you stop. When you let the obstacles beat you. You only fail when you give up. When you throw in the proverbial towel and head for the couch and TV life.
My recommendation is to go back to the words and phrases with true power to motivate. I’m a man, so I particularly like the more manly examples. Like: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Or how about these lyrics from the song “Pick Yourself Up”…
“Work like a soul inspired,
Till the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you’ll be a man, my son!”
Here’s some more of the good stuff…
Mister Light Bulb, Thomas Edison, agreed with me about the giving up definition of failure: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas A. Edison
Even Christopher Robin had this to say to Pooh: “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ A.A.Milne – Inspiration without the word, “fail.”
I know I’m gonna continue to hear this fail forward nonsense. Maybe for the rest of my entrepreneurial life. But I’ll never fall for its alliterative-flow-from-the-mouth mass appeal. And I would consider it a failure to do so.
And if you’ve just gotta have something quick and easy to say and remember, try these:
Keep Pressing Toward the Prize
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