Fail Forward to Success

4 Tools to Help Youth Help Themselves and Others, Part V

Every year, educational institutions honor “turn around students”. Students, families and school personnel from across the institutions come together to recognize and honor the students.


During these events, students share their educational journey. It is a wonderful celebration of success.

One “turn around student” honored was a quiet young man who really did not believe he would ever achieve success. During his first two years of school, he drifted along without much purpose. He had failed several classes and his attendance was irregular.

One day, the student stated his goal was to play football. Working with the head coach, over the next two years he improved his attendance and grades. In his senior year, he was a starter for the team, won several scholarships, and was honored as the “turn around student.”

So, what do “turn around students” have in common with J.K. Rowling, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey? They all experienced failure! They understand the concept of failing forward. The journey of life is full of peaks and valleys. Everybody fails! Therefore, the question is not “will you fail” but “how will you respond to failure?”

If failure is a part of life, then why do we fear failure? Because we do not understand the value of failure. The term failure means lack of success, according to Merriam-Webster. However, anyone who has achieved success knows failure is not fatal; it is sometimes required for successful innovation.

Thomas Edison is considered one of the great American inventors. When he was asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison responded, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

So how can you help your child learn from failure? Teach them how to view failure.

Dr. John Maxwell offers three ways to help you teach your child to view failure correctly:

  • Make every failure a learning experience for your child
  • Help your child to believe in themself and go father the next time
  • Remind your child today matters because yesterday is over

As an educational leader, I encourage students to pursue their goals with passion and a willingness to fail forward. I remind them to be true to themselves and to own their mistakes, but never let them define who they are.

If we are not failing, we are not moving forward. Remember, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone (Neale Donald Walsch).”

What steps are you taking to help your child fail forward to success?

Your friend,

YouthMAX Tampa Bay is a 1/2 day youth leadership conference, designed to give today’s young people 14 – 17 years of age practical tools to help them navigate life. Click HERE to learn more.


Dr. Kim Moore


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