Evolution of Failure – falling forward


lifting weights

www.unsplash.com  photo by allora griffiths

Continuing to live or exist in the environment where you are certain to fail takes a special kind of courage. Going into battle is brave, fighting for rights and beliefs is brave but improving on what you do and accepting that you may fail again seems more an act of crazy than heroic, masochistic even, unless your failure is forward. What exactly does this mean?

If you don’t understand what failing forward means I can say, you are not alone.  It has taken me forever to get it. Failing forward means you willingly, enter the reaching the limits, zone. This is the place where constant exhaustion of the heart and head is certain. Both Will Smith and Denzel Washington, describe it as the place you live, where you are almost certain, to fail. Think of being at a gym and adding the extra kilos to the weight you have successfully lifted. You know it will be impossible to go the next step, you have already reached you limit but you try anyway. Guess what happens? Your body adapts, perhaps not that day but soon after. We are practising controlled failure and that is evolution.

Denzel Washington sheds positivity on what has long been a negative concept. Failure is a way of achieving true success. I know it sounds strange but think of it in this fashion – to succeed you need talent but talent isn’t enough; you need more. Success needs the guts to fail. Denzel says if you don’t fail, you are not really bothering to try. You are staying safe. You are doing the known, following a tried formula, and the penalty is never knowing the true success that is failing – that incredible moment you take one more step into the unknown. You see, that step leads to evolution, the evolution of the person you want to be, the one you become despite the fierce heart and soul wrenching pain.

Evolution is not comfortable and you will feel like the salmon swimming upstream, against that battering current, and you have to accept you may never find that special place but you are truly alive, truly challenged. You’re not just any ordinary fish. You are one that has found exaltation, affirmation and true satisfaction, a gift from yourself to yourself.

Talking of fish, food is another area where we minimise risks by playing it safe and following recipes to the last grain of salt, after all lasagne is lasagna (Italian spelling). If that were true a vegetarian lasagne would not exist, and neither would the lasagne I made using slices of bread (don’t judge, it was cold, and I didn’t want to go out to the shops, and I was out of lasagne sheets). It was better than delicious, but in all honesty, I was surprised it turned out so well. And, I don’t want to analyse what that may mean.



I have been trying to find a way to better explain, not just to any reader out there, but to myself, what it means to understand this falling forward concept. I recently read an interesting article in Writers helping Writers about mindsets. In it, Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor of psychology and author of the book, Mindset, sayswinning is not a place you arrive; it’s a way you behave. And the most successful writers behave with a growth mindset.” This made sense to me – it is a position you place yourself where you are open and flexible, and more importantly, willing to learn so of course you are constantly risking failure. It’s hardly an easy place to be.

Achieving a growth mindset that has us failing forward is surprisingly easy.

  • acknowledge the areas where we can do better
  • keep learning, read books and blogs, go to lectures, partner with like-minded people or find a coach
  • consider the fact that bringing visions to life has impact and this means thinking about impacts along the way and not just the end-goal
  • focus on constantly mastering your craft
  • be grateful for the people beside you because they ease your travels

It’s about going the extra mile, and remember when you are failing forward that it took failing early and failing often to get you to this place.

What is your take on all this? Let me know as I would love to understand more.

Alla prossima



Giving up is not an option

tears It’s been a busy two weeks.  Started a new job, commenced some volunteer work with adult migrants, am half-way to losing my voice and as much as I like Sydney I am missing my family. I read this great post by Meg Dowel in A Writer’s Path about why we often given up on our dreams, or at the very least, are tempted to. We get caught up in our lives and we don’t have time for dreams.

Like many posts I read this one appeared to be about writing and ended up being about life. Meg in her article makes some very relevant points. I am at a pivotal point in my writing. Having spent endless hours improving (I hope) my manuscript so I can offer a better product and go to print I am not so much afraid of the outcome but more wishing I hadn’t started in the first place. I know, right? Nuts.

But, come on, how many of you out there have started a project, and then wished you had stayed in your hole? I am betting there are a lot more of you than I can count on both hands. We all want to be more than we are.  It’s about wanting to follow a passion and succeeding in a task, challenge or goal you have set for yourself. It’s hard work, sometimes too hard so of course you will be attracted, tempted by reasons not to continue, and there are reasons.

Boo Hoo, no-one cares:  The most painful reason is the one where you feel no-one else cares. Meg has that at number one. I know why. “It’s lonely when not even your friends or family seems to show an appropriate level of enthusiasm for your work.” People get busy. That’s the reality of life, and the truth is that this is your mission, not theirs. If you want to get to your destination then ‘suck it up, buttercup’ and just get on with it. Pretend the whole world is onside and maybe people will believe it and climb aboard the train. I would.

Negative reviews and/or criticism:  This can upset our equilibrium. However you put yourself out there, so you have to take the consequences.  Meg says you “can’t get mad just because someone doesn’t have all nice things to say about your work. It’s just not how the editorial process flows.” You can however learn to distinguish the helpful comments and let those polish your work.

Reminders of how hard the world of that profession is:  There are people out there who will remind you about the competition you face in your choice of profession, especially in writing. Yes, it’s true and temptation rides us hard to step away but then we will never know, will we? I was afraid to blog at the beginning.  I can’t think why as nearly two years into it has meant I have come across so many wonderful people. It has been the best of experiences.

I remind myself constantly that I am doing something I love and it doesn’t matter what other people do and say. The most important thing is to maintain an open mind to learning new things and trying to do better. There are a wealth of helpful sites out there to make things easier. I have just found two more, The Writer’s Path and Writers helping Writers. Both these sites have some great information on just about every subject, and especially editing.  I even found a crutch words list (overused words) and just seeing these words in front of me has made a difference.  I am guilty as charged.

If your willingness to improve is there in whatever you choose then satisfaction follows. Following your heart and doing something you love is amazing in itself.  This is what I meant about it being about more than writing. We should listen to our hearts and stay positive, and I think if we do the support will grow. I think you have to dance as if you have that audience. I firmly believe tickets to the performance will come when the time is right.

Time to go but I would like to leave you with some books I have totally loved over this last week or so.  These two authors have given me so much pleasure that I just had to share. The romance has been hot, the action enthralling and the writing just what it should be to keep a reader captive. All of the books have been part of a series that has improved with every book. You all know I am an avid reader (currently participating in the Goodreads Reading challenge for 2017 and am pretty close to my 150 target), and trust me at times, series can seriously lose their momentum. Not these authors and not these books but I warn you they are are about magic and if you not a fan then these books may convert you. I have given you the link to Amazon just in case. But, if I were you I would start with Book 1 in both cases.

Thank you to Ilona Andrews and Thea Harrison, for being magical magicians of the written word.  I needed your wonderful escapism this week to remind me to keep going.

Alla prossima


Ilona Andrews

Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel