Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

What's the Main Difference Between People Who Achieve and People Who are Average?

What makes achievers excel? You can call it luck, blessing or the Midas touch - call it whatever you want. But the truth is that some people just seem to achieve incredible things inspite of tremendous difficulties. It doesn't matter what kind of work they do, wherever they are, they just seen to make things happen. What makes the difference? Why do some people achieve so much?

Family Background?



High Morals?

The absence of hardship?

No, none of these things are the key. There's only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don't: 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 to accomplish whatever their minds and hearts desire.

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The Impossible Question

"If the possibility of failure were erased, what would you attempt to achieve?"

That seemed to be an intriguing question. For a time, it will prompt you to look ahead to life's possibilities. But technically it's really a bad question. Why? Because it takes a person's thinking down the wrong track. There's no achievement without failure. To even imply that it might be possible to give people the wrong impression. So, here's a better question:

If your perception of and response to failure were changed, what would you attempt to achieve?

Regardless of what obstacles you are facing in your life right now, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that your life can change if you're willing to look at failure differently. You have the potential to overcome any problems, mistakes or misfortunes. All you have to do is learn to fail forward.

Read through these two lists and determine which one describe your approach to failure.

Failing Backward

  • Blaming Others
  • Repeating the Same Mistakes
  • Expecting Never to Fail Again
  • Expecting to Continually Fail
  • Accepting Tradition Blindly
  • Being Limited by Past Mistakes
  • Thinking I am a Failure
  • Quitting

Failing Forward

  • Taking Responsibility
  • Learning from Each Mistake
  • Knowing a Failure is a Part of Progress
  • Maintaining a Positive Attitude
  • Challenging Outdated Assumptions
  • Taking New Risks
  • Believing Something Didn't Work
  • Persevering
Think about a recent setback you experienced. How did you respond?

No matter how difficult your problems were, the key to overcoming them doesn't lie in changing your circumstances. It's in changing yourself. That in itself is a process, and it begins with a desire to be teachable. If you're willing to do that, then you'll be able to handle failure.

Step #1 to Failing Forward:

Realize there is one major difference between average people and achieving people.

Excerpts from Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell