Failing Forward

bad mood imageI hate taking a bath. I am a shower kind of man. I like to have the water beat the dirt off of me instead of sitting in a pool of water with the dirt floating all around me. However, several years ago my wife and I moved into a new house where the shower was not yet working. I had to take a bath. What made it worse was that there was no stopper in the tub. While running my water I tried to rig something up to stop my water from running down the drain so I could take this bath that I did not want to take in the first place.

You could imagine my mood at this point. I finally got something to slow down (but not stop) my water from going down the drain. By this time, all the hot water was gone, so I was taking a bath in cold water while trying to hurry so all the water would not be gone before I was clean. In the midst of this frustration and hurry I happened to look toward the front of the tub and I saw a chrome lever…I chrome leverreached up and pulled that lever…and…lo and behold…the water stopped going down the drain!! (It takes a secure person to share a story like that.) I learned a very important lesson that day: Whenever you take a bath always look for the chrome lever!

Failure is OK as long as we learn something from it. Most successful people have experienced much more failure than success. Winston Churchill said, “Success is moving from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” Failure is OK as long as you fail forward. Through God’s grace and your own guts, you can learn to fail forward.failure


  • Realize What Jesus Thinks of You

In the midst of your failure, realize that Jesus is crazy in love with you. Mother Theresa described her failure as the “kiss of Jesus.” She explained that in her most broken times, because of her own failure, she felt the tender embrace of Jesus and in the midst of that embrace, Jesus would gently kiss her. Wow! There is nothing you can do to make Jesus love you more, there is nothing you can do to make Jesus love you less.

  • God Works in our Weaknesses

Often times God will use our weaknesses and failures more than he utilizes our strengths. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” That is true grace when God works more in our weaknesses than he does our strengths.

  • Support From Others

God’s grace flows through the company of people who love and care about you. They have failed as well. We all need each other. Through the love and support of other people, God’s grace can work in such a way that you can grow better from failure instead of growing bitter because of it.

failure roadYOUR OWN GUTS

  • Change Your Attitude

Babe Ruth came up to bat in the last game of the American League playoffs to see who would go on to the World Series. Babe Ruth had not touched the ball with the bat all game long. He had already struck out three times. The New York Yankees were two runs down with two runners on base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Babe Ruth missed the first pitch, “Strike One!” He missed the second pitch, “Strike Two!” Fans were already beginning to leave the game at this point. The third pitch came toward the plate, Babe Ruth swung and connected. The ball sailed out of the park for a three-run homer and the New York Yankees win the game and eventually go on to win the World Series! Babe Ruth was asked in an interview after that game what was going through his mind as he stood there knowing the game was on the line, he had not touched the ball the whole game and he already had two strikes on him. “What were you thinking about at that moment?” His answer is a perfect example of what all of us should be thinking anytime we have failed. Babe Ruth answered, “I was thinking about the same thing I always think about when I am standing at the plate. I was thinking about hitting a home run.” That should be our attitude. No matter what failure you may have experienced just think about hitting another home run.

  • what have i learnedStop Listening to Failure Messages

Psychologist Shad Helmstetter says, “During the first eighteen years of our lives, if we grew up in fairly average, reasonably positive homes, we were told ‘No” or what we could not do, more than 148,000 times!” If you are told over 148,000 times “No!” or “you can’t do that” you begin to believe it. We hear failure messages all the time. We even tell ourselves failure messages. “I can’t do that.” Or “I am not good enough” or “I am not smart enough”. Stop! Stop listening to the failure messages. Especially your own. You only know what you can do, not what you can’t do.

  • What Can I Learn From This?

Lastly, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. You know what does not work so you make adjustments and try again. Do not let failure get you down, allow it to pick you up.


Here is some additional motivation as you learn to fail forward:

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV). Through God’s grace and your own guts, you can fail forward. Go ahead, get started. Make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.


_MG_2463editTommy Lanham is a coach, leadership training expert, instructor, motivator, and a believer in Jesus. He is an experienced, trusted and highly enthusiastic speaker who communicates life changing truths in an entertaining way. He connects with his audience inspiring them to take action.

He travels to speak on goals, priority management, faith, personality types and other related topics. If you would like to find out more about Tommy’s speaking and coaching, please visit his website: