In a recent Leadership Mastermind, we walked participants through the creation of a Personal Success Plan. This exercise has participants start with a Vision of where they want to be, then they work out the steps they will need to take to get their over the next year. One of the things we talk about within the exercise is obstacles.

As people talked about common obstacles, it became clear that the most common obstacle is fear of failure. Many people know what they would like to do, but they hesitate because they are afraid of failing. Here is my advice.


Failing is an important part of success. I do not know anyone who is successful who has not failed in their journey. The failure they went through led them to a new lesson or opportunity. When they failed forward, greater things were among them. Here are some tips for failing forward:

  1. Talk About It – Speak your goals and your failures into existence. This creates reality around the situation and holds you accountable.
  2. Reflect on It – As an engineer, my role was always to think about how anything could go wrong. When it did, I had to trace my steps and figure out what happened. This skillset has allowed me to solve a lot of different problems, technical or relational. 
  3. Don’t Reflect Too Long – Yes, I said to reflect on the situation. However, too often leaders reflect for too long, and they while they failed, they refuse to fail forward. They dwell on a mistake, creating a fear to fail again. 

Success and failure are two sides of the same coin and that coin is action. The biggest risk anyone can take in life is to not act!