Book reviews · Podcast write-up

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success by John C. Maxwell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We are taking a quick break from the romance novels and reviewing one of the gems I found last year. I’ve always loved reading fiction–whatever the genre, but my book list honestly consists of a healthy dose of fiction and non-fiction titles to keep things interesting.

Last year, I added a number of self-help books to the pile. Not only because I’m experiencing difficult life problems, but mainly because I have always believed in personal growth and lifelong learning. For me, there’s always room for improvement and it’s wise to keep an open mind and be accepting of new, unfamiliar things.

Now, if you know me personally, I believe you would categorize me as someone who is cheerful, the one with the welcoming smile and jolly disposition. But to be honest, it’s not always the case. The past few years have been challenging, to say the least, to the point that I see myself becoming a strange, depressing mixture of Squidward and Eeyore. Just imagine that. It’s definitely something I am not fond of letting other people see, so I managed. In my own way of coping, I turned to books as a source of inspiration.

This is what led me to John C. Maxwell’s Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success. I read it at the start of 2020, and you know how the new year gives off that lingering feeling of the year that has passed and the need to be better for what is to come? That you are starting anew and you can do whatever it is you set your mind to? Well, that’s part of the reason for this choice of read. I want to dedicate time and energy into making myself better. And what else is best to tackle than failure and my obvious fear of it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking of failure this way. We all want the best in life and we want to succeed in our chosen fields. But success and failure are never opposing concepts, from what I learned. A friend once asked me: What is one thing you were not taught in school but should have learned anyway?

I thought about this question seriously, and realized that my answer would primarily be: to learn how to accept, respond, and move on from failures. Growing up, I did whatever I could to stay away from trouble, to avoid making mistakes as this would only lead to demerits, disappointments, and a lot of scolding. Mistakes and failures are not the kinds of things being rewarded when we were young. But they are, I realized later on, necessary to learning. There are many things I started to see and learn from after making mistakes, and I also found growth as I moved past such experiences.

Reading this book, I was made aware of the importance of failing and rising above life’s many challenges. Despite it being a short read, the book is filled with nuggets of wisdom I cannot wait to apply in my own life. Furthermore, the approach the author has taken is non-imposing, so you are able to pace yourself and come out of the entire experience refreshed and unburdened.

I give this book 4 stars. I enjoyed it so much I created a podcast episode about it–so this is another book review/podcast episode entry, I hope you don’t mind.

Here’s the podcast episode link for your listening pleasure.

Also, I leave you with this short but meaningful quote–one that I’ve always kept close for times I need the reminder. Failure and success are not mutually exclusive, contrasting concepts. We need not see it that way. In fact, failure is part of success, and success cannot be achieved without the life lessons we get from our failures. I hope you keep that in mind.

“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”

John C. Maxwell, Failing Forward
  • Title: Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
  • Author: John C. Maxwell
  • Year published: 2017
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers
  • Total number of pages: 226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-785-27430-8 (hardcover)


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