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Failing forward on the big-wheel of courage

The ability to learn from failure and having the courage to try again after failure is one of the most valuable skills to acquire in life. This skill can be referred to as ‘failing forward’.

Which of our biggest dreams would we pursue, if we knew that we were going to always be on track towards success? What if we realised that failing forward is an essential ingredient, which will ensure eventual and ongoing success? We would realise that it is not only OK to fail forward, but also necessary and beneficial.

We can change how we think about mistakes or things going wrong. We can make sure that our perception of things going wrong will serve us in beneficial ways. We develop what is also known as a growth mindset. By embracing a process of trying and failing forward, we can build a solid, unshakable foundation for having courage, confidence and experiencing ongoing successes on the journeys of our lives.

There are many facets to failing forward, like looking for the lessons and opportunities that were created – this is one of the many ways how we can fail forward. We are on a journey of taking the courage to keep trying the things that will lead to success and to realising our biggest dreams.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is courage that counts.” ~Winston Churchill

Failing forward meditation

I take a moment to reflect on these questions:

  • How do I want to think about success and failure?
  • What does failure mean to me?

Failure is not a destination. Instead of labeling an outcome as ‘a failure’, or thinking that I am stuck or giving up – I re-frame the experience as an educational and enriching one – it is a lesson in courage when I choose to fail forward. This is extremely empowering and builds on my emotional resilience.

I can perceive failure as a meaningful and beneficial experience. Failing means that I have been trying things that will eventually enable me to succeed and that I have put myself in situations where I could potentially succeed.

I am developing a perception of success that has no opposite. Success begins by failing forward. I breed courage by learning and taking action – trying again by using an improved approach – this is how I fail forward. By failing forward, I develop an enduring sense that I am succeeding.

Every day, I reflect on what I have learned. My courage let’s me proceed on a life-long learning journey.

I make plans and I take the steps to succeed. I put myself into situations where I may succeed. I systematically make progress and I get ahead. I use my time wisely. I put a spotlight on opportunities. I create opportunities to succeed. I connect with my goals, abilities, strengths, talents and confidence. I build rock-solid self-confidence. I honour my commitments and I do a great job with anything that I do. I take good care of myself. On a daily basis, I use my courage to keep myself busy with things that lead to growth.

I find inspiration instead of getting frustrated. I keep my inspiration ignited. I make the most of my time and my life. I disengage all negative thoughts. I am developing self-discipline and I take responsibility. I find ways to promote my career. I feel encouraged to keep trying and to keep exploring.

By failing forward, my achievements and forward motion will always overshadow any challenges or obstacles and it transforms the occasions when things don’t work out into empowering experiences. I keep failing forward, while I remain relaxed and ready.

Failing forward affirmations

  • I take charge of my life.
  • The way in which I handle failure breeds success.
  • I engage in failing forward on my journey of ongoing success.
  • I set the big-wheel of ongoing, infinite success in motion.
  • Every step I take today will bring me closer to success.
  • Failing forward is an inevitable part of the journey of success.
  • I embrace failure –  each time I fail, I am one step closer to success.
  • I am learning from mistakes and from the things that went wrong.
  • I get back up and I keep going – this is how I fail forward.
  • Whenever I try and fail forward, I move towards success!
  • Whenever I keep failing forward, I eventually succeed.
  • I am not “a failure” – I fail forward to every success.
  • I acknowledge that anyone can fail forward.
  • I face, embrace and conquer the challenges.
  • I believe in ongoing improvement.
  • I keep my eyes on the prize.
  • I set myself up for success.

Learning experience

I learn by figuring out what went wrong, what to avoid and what might work for the next steps. I am open to learning the lessons from my experiences.

  • I am learning that failure is as important as success.
  • I am learning to embrace the possibility of failure.
  • I am learning about ‘what went wrong’.
  • I am learning where I can improve.
  • I am learning what to pay attention to.
  • I am learning what to look out for.
  • I am learning to thrive at every level.
  • I am learning how to avoid negative outcomes.
  • I am learning how to change my thinking for the better.
  • I am learning to work on my behaviour and to create opportunities for success.
  • I am learning to see challenges in a positive or neutral light.
  • I am learning to continue innovating and experimenting.
  • I am learning to not compare myself with others.
  • I am learning what changes I need to make.
  • I am learning how not to do things.
  • I am learning how to get it right.
  • I am using what I have learned by failing forward as input for my plans and strategies.
  • I am developing the route to any and all the success I could ever want to achieve.

  • I adopt a mindset that is shaped by myself, not by others.
  • I adopt a mindset that makes the most of my time.
  • I adopt a mindset of embracing opportunities.
  • I adopt a mindset that sets me up for success.
  • I adopt a mindset that is realistic and patient.
  • I adopt a mindset of failing forward.

  • Failing forward makes me stronger.
  • Failing forward eliminates paralyzing perfectionism.
  • Failing forward is part of my growth as a person.
  • Failing forward is about learning – it is an opportunity to grow.
  • Failing forward is a natural part of life for all creatures on earth.
  • Failing forward shows that I am effectively working towards success.
  • Failing forward grows humility and let’s me embrace the flaws of myself and others.
  • Failing forward grows my loving-kindness and makes me see the best in me and others.
  • Failing forward breeds compassion, non-judgement and a willingness to help others.
  • Failing forward breeds courage, self-confidence, self-assurance and decisiveness.
  • Failing forward makes me more likely to succeed.
  • Failing forward makes it easier to ask for help.

  • I gain a new perspective on what to do next time.
  • I gain wisdom about what to do and what not to do.
  • I gain wisdom and compassion from any pain and suffering endured.
  • I use the gained knowledge to rethink my strategies when necessary.

If I make the mistake of not learning the important lessons when something went wrong… If I choose to ignore the lessons, if I keep repeating the mistakes… I remind myself to fail forward, so that I can succeed. If something goes wrong, I look at the experience in a positive or neutral light – I also focus on learning from the experience. I am learning to look at failure, disappointments, setbacks and obstacles in a positive or neutral light. When I fail forward, it is empowering, because I create a powerful learning experience. When I learn from my experiences – it becomes evident how to avoid mistakes and prevent things from going wrong.

I plan for success

I take the time to plan for success.  If I want too much too quickly… I remind myself to be realistic, patient and to plan for success. I plan to not give up, I plan to keep trying. I prepare for the challenges that I may face.

Failing forward is about facing the hardships along the way. The embrace the idea that the road to success can be a bumpy one and I am prepared to fail forward instead of giving up, overcoming each bump, each hick-up – one by one. Failing forward is about not giving up.

I set manageable goals. My goals are are realistic and achievable. I make the effort by taking one step at a time. Failing forward means taking a step forward. No matter what, I get closer every day.

When I didn’t get the results I hoped for, it is time to fail forward. If I feel discouraged and and want to give up – it is time to fail forward.


I am steering my life. I do not give up when I experience challenges, rejection or any other setbacks. I have the valuable tool of failing forward to use at any time.

If I try and fail… and then I beat myself up, or I think about giving up, I disengage the negative thoughts, instead – all I have to do is fail forward. If I feel stuck or powerless to change my situation, if my hope is fading – all I have to do is fail forward. If I struggle to fail forward… If I struggle to achieve more in life… – all I have to do is persist in failing forward.


I choose to express courage and conviction by failing forward. I choose to be encouraged by failing forward. I choose to be courageous and take action. I choose take the courage to keep moving forward towards each success by failing forward.

If things get tough and I feel discouraged, I remind myself that I can get through it – setbacks and difficult emotions are part of the journey, and by tolerating the difficulties. I do not let the past distort my future. Difficulties will never hold me back. I become stronger, more informed and courageous. To build my courage, I think about myself as overcoming the challenges and thereby thriving.

My courage keeps me going, keeps me failing forward and thriving. If it seems difficult, I try doing it anyway. I allow myself to be bold and to embark on big endeavors. I take risks, I regulate the fear of failing.


I believe in myself. I believe that I am likely to succeed. I believe that I can achieve what I am setting out to do. I believe in my abilities to overcome challenges. I am optimistic and I believe that things are likely to work out. I am confident, able, dedicated and I take responsibility. I am intelligent and talented. My self-belief and conviction keeps me going. Opportunities and success are abundant in my life.

If I notice any distorted ideas about myself or about my experiences, I build my confidence by reminding myself of the power of my abilities, strengths and resilience and how beneficial it is to fail forward as an avenue to success. I bring my views of life into focus – to be realistic, balanced and optimistic. I celebrate, highlight and value my abilities, talents, strengths and passions.

Regulating emotions

I regulate any fear that may arise on my journey of success. I regulate my emotions and by doing that I become more resilient. If I am afraid of trying – I remind myself that failing forward is like exploring and experimenting.

If the fear of failure arise… If emotional and mental distress arise due to experiencing the fear of failure… To process and release all the fear of trying – I acknowledge that if something goes wrong, it can generate difficult emotions and distressing thoughts. I do not engage any negative thoughts and ideas. I disengage negative ideas about being defective. I do not doubt, criticize or judge myself. I break the old patterns.

I regulate all those difficult emotions and reappraise my thoughts and beliefs to be positive or neutral. I do not engage with any of the negative thoughts, I simply let them float away into the background, and those thoughts do not affect me at all.

If any emotions arise that are very intense, I can adjust the sensations to be less intense by using my will. I use my will to tone down the body sensations of intense emotions, making them a bit milder so that I can tolerate and process the emotions. Paying attention to the body sensations of my emotions makes me resilient.


If fear of failure arise in difficult experiences, I do not resort to distraction or rumination (over-thinking) or self-limiting or avoidance behaviour. I rethink any unhelpful avoidance strategies that I may be repeating. I cannot protect myself from failure by avoiding difficult experiences. I cannot protect myself by over-thinking. I recognise that avoidance and over-thinking can lead to a lack of progress.

I take the steps to change escapism behaviour and any other behaviour that is aimed at avoiding the challenges or experiences. I do not avoid trying, I do not hold myself back – I dismantle escape and avoidance strategies patterns.

It is OK to avoid the things that realistically do not work or pose a danger.

If my patterns of avoidance are rooted in past difficult experiences, I acknowledge the suffering and show compassion to my younger self and I regulate the emotions. No matter how challenging it is, I choose to do things differently.

Getting unstuck

If I feel stuck or if something is hindering my progress… like indecision, fear, discouragement. I reset my stuck-thoughts to dynamic, engaging ones of failing forward and ongoing progress towards success. I strengthen my self-belief in what I am capable of. Success follows failing forward, which is about learning and not giving up.

Failing forward is about proceeding after gaining more useful information about what might work and what doesn’t work. Failing forward increases my knowledge, experience level and courage. My courage and decisions will determine what happens next. Failing forward leads me to success. Failing forward is a path to having a fulfilling life.

Realistic and patient

  • If I can’t seem to get it right, I rephrase it: “I did not YET get it right, but I will”.
  • If I don’t find that break, I rephrase it: “I haven’t YET found that break, but I will”.
  • If my big dream seems impossible to realise: “I haven’t realised my big dream YET, but I will.”
  • If I feel stuck after failing, I rephrase it: “I do not YET see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I will”.

If I fail, I would have gained more experience for next time when I try again. I take the risks. I challenge any impatience, unrealistic expectations and perceptions. I give myself a break from negative perceptions. I am patient and prepared to fail forward, as I make the effort to succeed.

If I try and I fail forward – I learn from the experience – this is an integral part of success. I keep trying, I keep going. Failing forward breeds opportunities for learning and for finding direction. I fail forward with courage – knowing that I will learn and grow from the experiences, no matter how they play out.

Over time, it becomes clearer to me how to avoid the common pitfalls.

I am not alone

I am not alone, in fact – we all experience failure. I learn, grow and connect with others by failing forward. The courage of one, ignites the courage in the others. Together we embrace failing forward, taking responsibility, showing mutual respect and building trust. Together we embrace failing forward as stepping stones to success. Together we embrace failing forward by dreaming big and taking the courage to consistently bring our dreams into reality. I keep reminding myself that I am not alone – that everyone who has the courage to fail forward is bound to succeed.

Getting help

When I need help, I ask for help or for ideas or constructive feedback and different perspectives.

Failing forward can be more successful when I get constructive feedback and advice from others. I embrace helpful, optimistic perspectives. For me the point of a difficult experience is to be courageous, to learn, grow and develop my skills.

Sabine Thomas

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