Failure is your best friend

A timeless lesson in personal growth and mindset.

Numbness. Fear. Disappointment. And that pit in my stomach.

If you’ve ever been fired before, you know the feeling. You think of others to blame, but you know when you look in the mirror that you keep looking back at yourself and asking, “Why?”

It happened several years ago, and yet I still remember it like it was yesterday. Deciding to make a venture back into consulting, I took a high-paying job with a top-notch firm. After relocating my family 1,000 miles away, dealing with some growing pains and struggling to gain my footing — I was out.

It took only 9 months. My time in that world had passed.

I knew it. Deep down, I knew it. But i didn’t want to admit it.

Around the exact time that I was let go by my employer, I published my very first blog post right here on Medium. It led to what’s become a career as a writer, an executive coach, public speaking and now, the completion of two books (including my first publishing deal).

If you’ve ever failed at anything in your life, you know that the hardest part of recovery is coming to grips with reality. It’s admitting you made mistakes — honestly and humbly coming to terms with the fact that it’s not worth trying to blame anyone else.

Whether the circumstances were “fair” or not, the best thing you can do is own your shortcomings and move on with professionalism and integrity. I had my mourning period. The grief. The, “Oh shit, now what do I do?” moment that everyone who fails always has. And then?

I realized how bright my future was. I realized how important it was to dig-in to doing what I loved — what I was most passionate about. Because I started writing and coaching people (things I was previously doing on the side) and was successful, I kept doing it. I kept going. I honestly wasted very, very little time worrying and fretting about the future.

This was with a child that had just turned 18 months, and a wife expecting and relying on me to provide for them. I kept going.

Failure wasn’t my worst enemy. Failure, as it turns out, was my best friend.

Failure is not the end. It’s not where we should get lost in fear. No one likes to talk about their most intimate personal or professional failures in the moment because they’re embarrassed. They’re confused. They’re lacking self-awareness because it feels like their world is, at least temporarily, caving in.

They’re afraid others will write them off — or worse yet, that they’ll write themselves off.

By allowing yourself to own a failure — and refusing to sugarcoat it or make excuses about it — you mature, adapt and move on. It’s this acceptance that is absolutely paramount for personal and professional growth. Acceptance isn’t resignation. Acceptance is what the most mature, emotionally intelligent people in the world practice.

Who owns up to failures? The world’s most SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs, leaders, businesswomen, athletes, artists and…. you get the point. In my research, interviews and studies for my upcoming book, I’ve learned that titans like Sara Blakely, Jeff Bezos, Suze Orman, Misty Copeland, Steve Jobs, even Michael Jordan, suffered massive setbacks and failures on their way to stardom.

The difference is that they embraced their failures. They owned them, learned from them and used them to catapult on to the next step.

What about you? The new year is upon us, and it’s a time for reflection, renewal and recharge for achieving our biggest goals and dreams. It’s also a time for honesty and peace of mind to prevail.

If you’ve been cut from a team, fired from a job, lost out on a big time client to a competitor or just flunked out of school — your run is far from over.

I truly do believe things happen for a reason. These failures — they’re moments of learning that become stepping stones to something greater. You lose when you view them as a finality. You lose when you don’t learn.

You win when you realize failure is your best friend.

Make this commitment for 2020 — learn and grow from every setback. I hope you encounter adversity. If I may be so bold, I hope you fail. Failure is the launching point to every successful venture, to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to become.

Fail big. Then, you will succeed.

This article first appeared on Medium.