8 Quotes on Learning From Experience and How To Fail Forward in Life
Introduction: Failures are only ever as detrimental as you make them.
The path towards your ultimate success is always going to be checkered with failures. If there are no failures then there simply aren’t enough attempts—or at least not enough of the right kinds of attempts. Winning isn’t the result of never failing, it’s the result of failing more often than the rest. The key, is in learning how to fail forward.
Failing forward is about seeing failures as opportunities for massive growth rather than events of massive decline.
This principle, of course, is easier said than done. Failures are painful and can be incredibly hard to rebound from. But when this theory becomes application in your life—amazing things start to happen. One of my most embarrassing failures happened when I was still a young and, “budding” Martial Arts Instructor and I was asked to give a presentation on Bullying at a local community center. It felt pretty routine to me because I intuitively knew the power of Martial Arts training in developing confidence and helping prevent bullying situations so I quickly accepted.
The day of the event, I traveled to the local community center with a team of some of my top performing students from the school and planned to, “wing-it” with some thoughts and ideas that could help inspire those who were being bullied or looking to help solve the issue of bullying in some way/ shape/ or form in their lives.
Before it was my turn to present, a former beauty pageant contestant took the mic and spoke about bullying from her experience. It quickly became obvious that bullying was a topic of passion for her and was something that she had great experience speaking about. She spoke with clarity and elegance and with a deep seeded understanding of the ins and outs of bullying for upwards of thirty minutes—and the longer she spoke, the more nervous I got.
Before I knew it, the MC directed the audience’s attention towards me, and before they even got a chance to give me the mic, I let my Martial Arts Instructor instincts take over and I started yelling from the stage to the audience. After about one minute of trying to enunciate loud enough for the whole audience to hear me, the MC walked over and gave me the mic and smirked at me with a, “This might help” kind of look. It was in that moment that I totally blacked out.
Having to speak into the mic pushed me too far outside of my comfort zone and I froze up, started jumbled out incoherent words, and fumbled my way around the word, “confidence” for what felt like a year. Once I got red enough in the face, I quickly had my students do a Martial Arts demonstration (exemplifying confidence) and hustled off stage after a grand total of… 5 minutes—25 minutes shorter than the former beauty pageant contestant who went before me. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my public speaking life.
This is where mindset changes everything.
Had I looked at that experience as the worst thing that ever happened to me and resolved to never get myself into a position like that again—I could have quickly built up walls of fear that would have prevented me from leaving my comfort zone like that again.
The other possibility, of course, would have been to look at it as an opportunity for growth—and that’s what I (thankfully) elected to do. I internalized how I felt that day—walking off stage as red as a tomato and feeling like I had let everyone down—and brought that pain with me to the drawing board when I was planning and preparing for my next presentations.
The deep emotional pain that I felt that day from failing, quickly was matched by deep emotional commitment to ensure that I never got myself into another painful situation like that ever again. I was researching and planning like I never had before and I became increasingly better at speaking publicly with each event I went to from that point forward.
Rather than cripple my resolve, that failure became my launchpad to success.
I share this with you today because if you’re not careful in life, you might mistake similar experiences as total failures and never find the opportunities that those failures might present. I challenge you to think about some of your biggest failures in life and rather than ask yourself how or why you messed up so bad, ask yourself how and why you can grow from that experience. Mark Manson, in his book, The Suble Art of Not Giving a F*ck elaborates on this idea and speaks with conviction on how important it is to fail forward. Below, you’ll find 8 of our favorite quotes from his book that will help you see failure through this lens which will hopefully help launch you to some of your best successes yet! Good luck and keep moving forward!
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The List: 8 Quotes on Learning From Experience and How To Fail Forward in Life
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“Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something. If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have. If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all of the painful learning experiences you have.”
“The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all. It’s anti-entitlement. People who become great at something become great because they understand that they’re not already great—they are mediocre, they are average—and they could be so much better.”
“Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth. As the old adage goes, the man who believes he knows everything learns nothing. We cannot learn anything without first not knowing something. The more we admit we do not know, the more opportunities we gain to learn.”
“We all love to take responsibility for success and happiness. Hell, we often fight over who gets to be responsible for success and happiness. But taking responsibility for our problems is far more important, because that’s where the real learning comes from. That’s where the real-life improvement comes from. To simply blame others is only to hurt yourself.”
“Problems may be inevitable, but the meaning of each problem is not. We get to control what our problems mean based on how we choose to think about them, the standard by which we choose to measure them.”
“Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don’t go from ‘wrong’ to ‘right.’ Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong. And when we learn something additional, we go from slightly less wrong to slightly less wrong than that, and then to even less wrong than that, and so on. We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth or perfection.”
“There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances.”
“We all have values for ourselves. We protect these values. We try to live up to them and we justify them and maintain them. Even if we don’t mean to, that’s how our brain is wired. If I believe I’m a nice guy, I’ll avoid situations that could potentially contradict that belief. If I believe I’m an awesome cook, I’ll seek out opportunities to prove that to myself over and over again. The belief always takes precedence. Until we change how we view ourselves, what we believe we are and are not, we cannot overcome our avoidance and anxiety. We cannot change.”
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If you enjoyed these quotes from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, you can find more quotes and resources from the book below:
By: Mark Mason
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