Allow yourself to fail forward!


SA Fit Bio-1

Sean Eddington is a Residence Education Coordinator at Purdue University.  As a Residence Education Coordinator, Sean mentors, supports, and learns from students on a daily basis.  He is passionate about wellness, and strives to help student thrive in all parts of their lives.  Sean is also an advocate of failing forward.  He can be reached through Facebook or Twitter (@seanmeddington).


I’m a runner, but that wasn’t always the case.  To understand this (and those that know StrengthsFinder), you have to know that my number one signature strength is context.  My history and my story are central parts in getting to the moral of the story.  It all started three years ago; at that time, I would have easily been considered a morbidly obese individual.  In January 2010, the scales were easily tipping over 400lbs.  Along my journey there have been many successes (a loss of 140lbs of successes!), and some frustrations (those moments where you bust your tail working out only to find that you stayed the same weight–or even worse you gained weight!).  While my successes have been great and meaningful, for me, the best learning came through the frustrations.  Through these, I was able to identify a central idea that had permeated through my 24 years of experience on this planet.  The moral of my story is to fail forward.


What does it mean to fail forward?  To me, it is the liberation from perfection and without losing the zeal and thirst for progress.   There was immense personal power in giving up those ideas of being perfect, and working on being the best I could be.  One’s fitness is up to them.  It wasn’t until this paradigm shift occurred that I started seeing the importance of progress instead of perfection; I experienced MY successes and failures on MY terms.  With this, I started to realize the potential in failing forward.


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It wasn’t until I allowed myself to fail forward that I began to find myself really experiencing the true joy of the successes that I’ve had, and they came AFTER some of my most spectacular failures. Once I let go of those unrealistic expectations, I found myself taking more chances.  I became adventurous, and took chances. This led me to perhaps the riskiest venture of all:  running

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In truth, I don’t remember the exact day that I started running, but I remember that it came around the time that I was experiencing a series of weight loss plateaus.  When you’re on a mission to change your life and lose weight, plateaus are devastating.  Up to that point, I had hit several weeks/months of consistent weight loss.  I was eating correctly, working out, and BAM.  I hit a wall, and it lasted several weeks.  It felt like I was at the end of my weight loss journey.  I had gotten so used to success that the month-long plateau made me feel like an utter failure.  And then, one day I turned up the speed on the treadmill, and started running.  At first, it was small distances/times, but as my courage grew, I was able to take more risks and try new speeds/distances.

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In doing this, I found how good running felt.  After a while, I signed up for my first 5K, and my first time running really outside.  I completed the race and earned a medal for 3rd place in my age division.  What a great feeling!  Since that day, I’ve been running, and thinking about running almost on a daily basis.  This is all great and a wonderful part of the story, but the greatest thing that came from my experience of running was a true measure of success.  In running, I shifted my focus from losing weight, which has slowed down a lot, to a focus on my progress with running.


Failing forward in my weight loss plateaus had allowed me to discover running, which offered me an opportunity to  retool, rethink, and reflect on what success truly meant to me.  In running, I’ve found so many successes, and so many great opportunities to connect with others.  If it hadn’t been for those weeks of weight loss plateau, I’m sure I wouldn’t have stumbled into running.  With running, I lost a lot of weight, but ultimately, I found myself.  I found my strength, and I’ve learned so much from running.


Whatever the moral of your story may be, there are a few nuggets that are imperative when it comes to fitness wellbeing.  Never give up. Your fitness journey and successes are YOURS—don’t compare yourself to others.  Push yourself, and, above all else, do not fear failure!  Failing forward is a crucial part of progress!


How can you fail forward in your fitness journey?



One comment to Allow yourself to fail forward!

  • Teri  says:

    You rock Sean!

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