5 Tips: Failing Forward To Success

When a reporter asked Thomas Edison, “How did it feel to fail 1000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.” Many years later, Michael Jordan, the man who many consider to be the greatest basketball player of all time said,

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan

There is a popular saying that, failure is a stepping stone to success but I don’t think many people really believe that. But, both Thomas Edison and Michael Jordon certainly believed it and that may have been one of the things that led to their tremendous success. In short, they knew how to fail forward to success. And there are many things that we could learn from there perspective. Here are 5 things we need to know about failing forward to success.

1. Failure is a part of success

Failure is often seen as a bad thing, something to avoid. As though it’s the opposite of success. But failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of success. Success is very rarely instantaneous, it’s more of a process. And failure is often part of that process. We try and fail and try again, eventually succeeding if we don’t give up.

Think back to when you were learning to ride a bike. Like me, most likely you fell quite a bit and maybe even got some bruising. But falling and getting back up was part of the process of learning to ride. Today, funny enough, I look back fondly at the many times I fell and was bruised learning to ride.

2. Failure teaches us

Every time we try something and fail, we learn a valuable lesson – what not to do the next time. And so we are one step closer to success. We gain experience and insight that can benefit ourselves and others in the future. Failure can also make us stronger, more resilient people.

3. Failure indicates action/progress

The only persons who don’t fail are persons who don’t try anything. If nothing else, Failure indicates that you are trying, that you are doing and that you are taking action. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes. 

4. Failure is temporary

Many persons wallow in their failure because they see it as permanent. They even take it personally and see themselves as failures. But successful people know that failure is just temporary. There is always a comeback. So they get up, shake themselves off and go right back to work.

5. Failure makes you relatable

I heard someone say once that, “mess is a message to the masses”, and that’s so true. Every time we fall or make some mistake, we have experience which we can share to help and guide and inspire others. Just as we can now learn and be inspired by the failings and eventual success of people like Thomas Edison and Michael Jordon.

Success is something we all want and failure is something most of us don’t want. But failure is something that we must get familiar with if we really want success. There is a difference though between simply failing and failing forward. Someone who simply fails gives up but someone who fails forward, learns from their mistakes, makes changes, and goes right back at it again. So like Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, and many others, we must learn to fail forward to success.


I wish you every success in life and in the pursuit of your passions and purpose.

Bevon Grant

A fellow traveler on the road toward financial freedom and a more meaningful life. More About Me and My Blog.

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