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Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

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Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success [Paperback]

John C. Maxwell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 3, 2007

Are some people born to achieve anything they want while others struggle? Call them lucky, blessed, or possessors of the Midas touch. What is the real reason for their success? Is it family background, wealth, greater opportunities, high morals, an easy childhood?

New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell has the answer: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.

Most people are never prepared to deal with failure. Maxwell says that if you are like him, coming out of school, you feared it, misunderstood it, and ran away from it. But Maxwell has learned to make failure his friend, and he can teach you to do the same.

"I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway," says Maxwell. "Because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!"

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Editorial Reviews Review

The author of 24 books on maximizing personal and leadership potential, John C. Maxwell believes "the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure." In Failing Forward, he offers inspirational advice for turning the difficulties that inevitably arise in life into stepping stones that help you reach the top. Noting that star performers are often those who aggressively push forward after encountering adversity, Maxwell shows how a variety of well-known and not-so-well-known people have forged ahead despite obstacles that could have derailed them. They include: Mary Kay Ash, who founded her cosmetics firm against enormous odds when the direct-sales company she toiled in for 25 years resisted her continued corporate climb; Truett Cathy, who lost two brothers (and business partners) in an airplane crash and experienced his own serious medical problems before establishing the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain; Greg Horn, who reopened his Kentucky grocery store just 21 days after it suffered $1 million in flood damage; and Beck Weathers, who lost his nose, half of one arm, and the fingers on his other in the infamous 1996 Into Thin Air Mt. Everest tragedy, but now takes a positive message of survival and conquest to audiences around the world. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 24 million books in fifty languages. Maxwell was identified as the most popular leadership expert in the world by Inc. magazine in 2014. He is the founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP. He can be followed at For more information visit

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Reprint edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785288570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785288572
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, coach, and author who has sold over 19 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and the John Maxwell Company, organizations that have trained more than 5 million leaders worldwide. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organizations as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books which have each sold more than one million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. You can find him at and follow him at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
108 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Use Setbacks to Overcome Your Stalled Thinking April 25, 2000
Failing Forward is one of the best stallbusting books I have ever read! It focuses on how to handle our emotions when things aren't matching up to our expectations. Dr. Maxwell identifies dozens of stalls that delay progress for those who are experiencing setbacks in their lives.
While most people see setbacks as a negative, Dr. Maxwell points out that there is an important lesson that we can use to accomplish more in the future. Building on that appropriate and valuable perspective, Failing Forward postulates 15 principles that can help you apply the lesson.
Each chapter covers a separate principle and is filled with self-diagnostic questions, as well as heart-warming examples of how people went from apparent failure towards great success.
The work is very consistent with the philosophy of Anthony Robbins. If you are a Robbins fan, you will find this book to be a good complement to Unleash the Power Within.
I strongly recommend that you read this book, and reread it the next time you are feeling sorry for yourself or have a setback. If you care about others, be prepared to loan your copy to the next person who looks morose after having a problem.
Dr. Maxwell also offers a self-diagnostic test on the book's Web site ([...] I took that test and found it helpful to cement my understanding of the book. I recommend that you do this as well.
Unlike most books about self-improvement that are scaled to a level of sophistication, this book should appeal both to those with lots of experience and education as well as those who have yet to develop those perspectives.
The only people who will be confused will be those who have yet to experience any significant setbacks. They will wonder what all the fuss is about.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important nook about an important life issue November 14, 2003
By A Customer
John Maxwell does a marvellous job of helping people to work through failure and move on. I am 53 years old and was recently laid off by an employer who told me that I was the best employee he had. I felt betrayed and would wake up every morning thinking of ways to get even (even though I knew I wouldn't act on them.) I was really hurt and couldn't get over it. A friend of mine suggested I read two books. The first one she recommended was this one and it really helped me to put things into perspective. Instead of moping around the house, I started looking through the papers and making calls to get job interviews. Yes, it got me going! The other book my friend recommended was Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self which helped me to understand that every situation (even a a situation I don't like) is an opportunity to be my best, and it showed me how to make the most of any situation. With books like these in the world, we never have to be stuck and we can really make the most of our lives.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars decent stuff here January 9, 2001
Maxwell is a former minister and the founder of a company that offers support services to religious organizations. As such, his book's upbeat, you can do it tone may be off-putting to some. But there's some interesting stuff here and the real life examples he uses of people of have learned from failure provide some good hands-on advice. The book is organized into 15 steps that will help us make the most out of a failure. These are designed to help us 'fail forward.' Some of them include: find the benefit in every bad experience; work on the weaknesses that weaken you; change your response to failure by accepting responsibility. There's not a lot of analysis or depth to Maxwell's observations, but there's enough here in the way of examples to ground his practical observations to make this a useful motivational book.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
The idea behind this book is very original and relevant. We all make mistakes and the exploration of how to learn from those and improve ourselves is a noble task. Maxwell begins well with insightful thoughts on what failure is and is not, how success is born out of failure and how to reframe our perception of our failures. Then the book quickly turns to largely extraneous stories and weak supporting points. The book drags on in this vein for some time. It is not until near the end that things pick back up again. The book ends on a strong note, with practical suggestions of how to "fail forward." This book is worth reading, though be prepared to do some skimming in the middle sections.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Failure is never final January 1, 2004
By A Customer
This was is my first book by Maxwell, but it won't be my last. Maxwell mixes scriptures along with success principles and tells us that failure is never final. It's not how many times you fall, it's how many times you get back up and how much you learn from it.
Some people have called this a hookie-pookie superficial feel good book. I strongly disagree, except that I can do more by feeling good than by feeling lousy.
Maxwell is excellent. His words will inspire you but more than that, his words, when followed will instruct you as well.
Outstanding book. Highly recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very motivating August 2, 2000
After a number of recent "failures," I found comfort in John Maxwell's Failing Forward. With fifteen simple steps, Maxwell effectively demonstrates how one can overcome failure and find real success . . . by embracing failure. He shows the reader how there is a bigger picture, and that one must learn from failure. He also teaches that one must de-personalize failure. That can be hard at times, but Maxwell explains that it can be done. Now that I've read this book, I feel more confident in striving to reach my goals . . . even if that means that I encounter failures along the way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Failure is really a good thing
This book put things in its proper perspective and gives you tangible example on why Failure is a good thing
Published 7 hours ago by Cadebayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Success requires failure!
It's easy to look at a successful person and claim that they just "got lucky". It's not until the facts are laid out that you realize the success that person has achieved has come... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Matt Reid
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-motivated
I have never read any John Maxwell book before an I'm glad this is my first. It's like the book spoke to me. I'm a young entrepreneur an I just started the business world. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Idong
5.0 out of 5 stars Failures learn to live with them
An easy read, great for those that have trouble handing trails and tribulations.
Published 9 days ago by Steven Lovotti
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good insight on failing is part of the learning process.
Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book!
John Maxwell has established himself as a thoughtful, forward looking, provider of very solid advice for managers. This is another great example of his work.
Published 9 days ago by William L. Mince
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Simple basics in helping you realize you can bounce back after making mistakes and be a overcomer!
Published 17 days ago by Lisa A Span
5.0 out of 5 stars Failing Forward hits the mark
Mr. Maxwell takes the sting out of failing. The detailed analysis and examples made for a truly worth while read. Will never look at failure the same way again.
Published 21 days ago by Scott A Downing
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing! If a person lives in a lot of fear or discouragement, this book is for you!
Published 1 month ago by Smitty
5.0 out of 5 stars Great lesson
A lesson that every person should learn.How to go from failure to success without getting stuck in defeat, A great read.
Published 1 month ago by Rev Bob Meeker
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