No you weren’t seeing things and that wasn’t a typo in the headline: this blog will show you how you can fail forward fast when learning a new skill.

Let’s consider that sentence for a moment. Is it possible to fail forward? Isn’t failing a setback… and aren’t setbacks the opposite of any kind of forward motion? Depending on your mindset and belief systems, you’ll have a different definition of what it means to fail.

A good majority of us take a half-hearted approach to difficult situations in life. We keep one hand on the eject button so that when the going gets tough, we can get going. It’s this mindset that sees failure as a setback.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

On the flipside, there is a minority who – when faced with a difficult situation – will be excited by the prospect of finding another way to achieve their goal. It’s these people who have developed a mindset that allows them to fail forward, each time learning a new or better way to approach their obstacles.

So how can we adopt a mindset like this? The answer is in goal setting. Take Navy SEALS for example. To join the elite ranks of the SEALS applicants must go through six months of gruelling training which includes the infamous ‘Hell Week’ in which their minds and bodies are put through the grinder.

Time and again, successful applicants attribute their staying power and resilience to appropriate goal setting. Of course, the overall goal is to complete the six months of training. But rather than be overwhelmed by the idea of half a year of pain, they break down the six months into weekly-, daily-, hourly- and minute goals. It’s these micro goals that allow them to focus on one matter at a time and complete their training.

There is a saying the Navy SEALS have made famous: “under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion – you sink to your level of training”.

By setting small, achievable goals, you’re able to see obstacles in a new light. Rather than being a setback, they become just another ineffective method of doing something. So rather than feeling beaten at the sight of an obstacle, it becomes a victory because no matter what happens, you will have found a better way to overcome it next time.

Canity has been designed with this mentality in mind. The training can be completed in one session by watching all the training modules, or staff are able to watch one training module at a time, or even individual video segments for a couple of minutes each day.

By breaking down their training goals into manageable micro goals, staff are able to blitz learning outcomes and overcome new obstacles faster. And because they’re training little and often, they can apply their skills, see how they fit in and adjust as required.

The concept here is by breaking big goals (learning a new skill) into smaller, more manageable goals (watch three 1.5-minute videos) you’re increasing the likelihood those goals will be achieved. It is these smaller micro goals that allow you to ‘fail forward fast’ because you’re able to apply your knowledge more frequently and tune your approach until you’ve found one that works.

Embrace short-term micro goals and integrate them into your long term goals and you’ll have learned how to fail forward fast.

– Lachy Banton