“‘Failing forward’ is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.” John Maxwell

When you develop talent, you need to be ready for failure.  It is just crazy to expect people will learn something well the first time.  Of course, you shouldn’t put people in a position to fail especially if the stakes are high, either for them personally or for the organization.  But failure is a necessary part of learning and leadership formation.

Talented individuals also need the right mindset.  Sometimes if they have not met much adversity the first experiences of failure can be hard to face.  That’s when “failing forward” needs to be learned.

This is not the same as the Peter Principle, which basically says people get promoted to the highest level that their incompetency can handle.  It assumes a static case or stalled development while promotions continue.   Failing forward is not about career promotion and covering up incompetency.  It’s an attitude of learning to recover, to demonstrate both resiliency and course correction.  There is no real “failing forward” without positive change involved.

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