Failing Forward

Before I get too far into this blog post, I need to give credit to Chris Smeaton who shared his concept of ‘Failing Forward’ a few years ago when he was Superintendent of an Alberta school division. He has since retired, but is still influential in the educational field. Chris is a quality person who believes in the possible — a leader who builds a culture of risk taking and emotional support — someone who embraces the idea of failure being a springboard to better things.

Our conversation was about 3 years ago at a conference table. I loved the visual imagery of his ‘failing forward’ message.

Even if You Trip – You’re Still Falling Forward

Even if you’re experiencing a temporary pause in your momentum, you can still move forward if you’re supported and encouraged, but not if you’re condemned for your mistake during your exploration of something new.

(More on Page 2)

3 thoughts on “Failing Forward

  1. Thank you, Dave! How can words on failure make me feel so positive? This is a really uplifting message. I wonder sometimes though, when people say, “We tried that idea and it didn’t work. We don’t want to try that again”, what about the possibility that it wasn’t the right time, place, or people- but it’s still an idea that could be winner?


    • Hi Nola. Thank you for your very kind words. I completely agree with your sentiment — sometimes its about the timing of an idea or action that determines its success. If we support those who may not have been successful THIS time, perhaps they will try again when circumstances are different and success might happen.


      • I really appreciate your consistent emphasis on encouraging risk and being supportive to foster successful learning. It’s key whether the learner is seven or seventy. Although, something resonates for me in the standup comedian joke about the Home Depot DIY ad, “You can do it! We can help!” His response was: “No I can’t! And don’t encourage me!” (Definitely applies to home repairs at our house. ) Thanks again for sharing your wisdom, Dave!


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