Keep Moving Forward

Have you ever been so afraid of failing that you decided not to try all? Have you put your dreams on hold because you fear what people might think if you don’t succeed? We all deal with fear of failure many times throughout our lives. We fear that if we try and don’t hit our goal on the first try, we’ll never be able to accomplish it. Fear of failure can be debilitating.

Where does this fear come from? Kids don’t fear learning to walk or learning to speak. They just keep trying and trying after every failed attempt because they don’t fear failure. They don’t care that they have fallen on their butt 12,000 times before they are able to walk across the room successfully. So, if we weren’t born with this fear of failure, where did it come from?

As we grow and continue to learn in our formative years, I think we start to catch on and understand fear from those around us. We recognize the fear in our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. We see fear in our siblings because they too caught on to the practice of those around them to fear failure. I think this fear of failure is passed down to the new generations without consciously doing it.  

Also, there are all these expectations out there in the world for us to be a certain way. The world we live in expects us to conform to their ways and not create any waves. Out of fear of not meeting expectations or being different, we shy away from failing. This is very true for all those years spent in school. How many of us feared failing a test? Or not making the winning goal? Failure has a negative connotation associated with it.

“I sometimes react to making a mistake as if I have betrayed myself. My fear of making a mistake seems to be based on the hidden assumption that I am potentially perfect and that if I can just be very careful, I will not fall from heaven. But a mistake is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder that I am not dealing with facts. When I have listened to my mistakes, I have grown.” —Hugh Prather

The reason I wanted to write about this topic is because failure is the best teacher. You can sit in a class room all you want talking about theories and “what-ifs”. But, until you actually get out there and discover for yourself and make mistakes you won’t truly move forward or learn the lessons you are meant to learn.

One of my favorite John Maxwell books is called Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. The whole premise of the book is centered around the fact that you have to accept your successes and your failures. John Maxwell drives the point home that you learn more from your failures than you do your successes.

“Those who profit from adversity possess a spirit of humility and are therefore inclined to make the necessary changes needed to learn from their mistakes, failures, and losses. … When we are focused too much on ourselves, we lose perspective. Humility allows us to regain perspective and see the big picture. … Humility allows us to let go of perfection and keep trying.” —John Maxwell

Our culture has taught us to fear failure so much that we don’t even take the time to learn from our failures. We are so ashamed of it that we try to never think or speak of it again. The problem with that mentality is that you never learn from your failure. We can be so worried with what other people will think of our failures that we never sit and process them. We don’t take the step of learning how we can be better next time.

If you look at the top athletes or successful business owners, what do they all have in common? They didn’t accept failure. I guarantee Steve Jobs, Peyton Manning, and Jeff Bezos have failed more than you and I. Probably 1,000,000,000 times more. They don’t let the fear of failure stop them from achieving their dreams.

I recently re-watched one of my favorite Disney movies, Meet The Robinsons. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you do! It is definitely one of the best, yet underrated Disney movies of all time! One of my favorite scenes is when the main character, Lewis, fails at fixing one of his inventions. He is so disappointed in himself and has been dealing with failure after failure throughout the whole movie and feels defeated. But, everyone in the room celebrates his failure! They all cheer and congratulate him! There’s even fireworks, a fortune cookie with the phrase “keep moving forward”, and a toast to commemorate his failure! Lewis is so confused by this reaction because he was always taught to fear failure.

I absolutely love this scene because that is exactly how we should treat failures! We should celebrate not only our own failures, but the failures of others. We should be excited because we are now one step closer to our dream! One less lesson to learn and one less failure to go through before we hit our goal.

In another scene, the character Wilbor is trying to get Lewis to fix a time machine. This is how the conversation goes:

Lewis: I don't even know what I'm doing.

Wilbur: Keep moving forward.

Lewis: I mean, this stuff is way too advanced for me.

Wilbur: Keep moving forward.

Lewis: And what if I can't fix this, what are we going to do?

Wilbur: Keep moving forward.

Lewis: Why do you keep saying that? And don't just say keep moving forward!

Wilbur: It's my dad's motto.

Lewis: Why would his motto be keep moving forward?

Wilbur: It's what he does.

The whole underlying theme of this movie is keep moving forward. Which is based on a quote by Walt Disney himself. The whole movie is a tribute to the legacy Walt Disney created because he worked through his fear and kept failing forward.

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney

I am no expert of accepting my failures. I, just like everyone else, is still learning how to accept and learn from failure. I am working on not letting the fear stop me from working towards achieving my dreams. I think this is something that we will all have to continually keep working on. It’s not something we decide one day and poof, we no longer fear failure.

So, I challenge you to work through your fear of failure and start conditioning yourself to celebrate it. What if we all started to celebrate not only our own failures, but everyone else’s? How amazing would that be!

To finish, I suggest we all should stop using the phrase “failure is not an option”. Because you will fail, I guarantee it! Let’s start saying “Never stop trying after a failure” and “keep moving forward”.