John C. Maxwell Failing Forward

This is the book I would have wanted to write.

My five year exploration of embracing failure is not a particularly novel topic…just a rich one of personal interest. It also ties into my other subject of Leadership and Management through the common theme of risk. And it was through Leadership/Management that I was introduced to John C. Maxwell. He keynoted a Management conference at Microsoft on the topic of Leadership. Having studied that area for some time and dissected a range of useful models, Maxwell’s is one that struck a chord with me. Perhaps because of that, one of the best complements that I ever got was a peer (also in audience) asserting that I was classic ‘Type 1’ leader.

So hard was it to pick out my favourite parts, I could almost Maxwell’s book in its entirety, but the copyright people might have something to say about that. I’ve settled for some of my very favourite excerpts shared below. But it this topic is at all intriguing to you, I cannot recommend ‘Failing Forward’ strongly enough. It is a clear, structured and enjoyable read with a balance of insight, entertainment and inspiration. Aside from the highlights below, other favourite sections include “Traps That Make People Back Away From Risk”, Portia Nelson’s “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” and “Top Ten Strategies for Dealing with a Dead Horse”.

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. Nothing else has the same kind of impact on people’s ability to achieve and accomplish whatever their minds and hearts desire.” – John C. Maxwell 

“Life is not simply holding a good hand. Life is playing a poor hand well.” – Danish saying

“It’s not what happens to me; it’s what happens in me. It’s not the size of the problem, but how I handle the problem.” – John C. Maxwell 

“Failure is the greatest opportunity I have to know who I really am” – John Killinger 

“In science, mistakes always precede truth.” – Horace Walpole

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” – Henry C. Link 

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it…Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller 

“I would rather try something great and fail than try nothing great and succeed.” – John C. Maxwell 

“Would I like to have my hands back? Sure. Would I like to have my hands back enough to go back to who I was? No.” – Dr. Beck Weathers 

“Adversity is the first path to truth.” – Lord Byron 

“Men who survive an early heart attack and learn from it live longer and healthier lives than those who never suffer a heart attack.” – John C. Maxwell’s cardiologist Dr. Marshall 

“It’s not what happens to me; it’s what happens in me. It’s not the size of the problem, but how I handle the problem. When I fall, I keep getting up.” – Greg Horn, founder of Payless Food Center 

“To succeed, you have to be open to problems. You have to be open to failure. And as you go up the ladder, you gain the right to get more problems.