Failures are remarkable things. They mean that we tried. We may not have succeeded, but we tried, and that’s very often the first step.

I learn a heck of a lot more from my failures than I do my successes.

Don’t get me wrong – successes are great. Wonderful, even. But when everything goes right, I learn nothing beyond what happened to go right in that instance. But, what about the next?

Here is the difference between successes and failures:

Failures have an incredible way of humbling us. They force us to stop and reflect on the situation, as well as ourselves, to determine where we messed up. We retrace our steps and analyze where we stumbled off the path to righteousness.

We admit to ourselves that, well, we screwed up. It happens.

But, it also means we tried. We tried that new diet or exercise program. We tried to start a business or a brand new career. We recognized an opportunity and we went for it.

And, it’s this process that teaches us about ourselves. About confidence. About picking ourselves up from off the ground and trying again. And again.

We all love successes, but we learn so much more from our failures.

My failures taught me a lot about myself

I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my life. More mistakes than I can possibly count. I blew money on stupid stuff. I was brash and over-confident. I did way too much butt-kissing in a previous life than I was comfortable with, all to get ahead in corporate America.

The list of failures is endless, but a few of the bigger ones include:

I spent nights and weekends trying to start a business…while working a full-time job. Staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning was common. I worked long hours on my business, but like so many small businesses, it didn’t pan out. That business failed.

But, that grueling effort also taught me that I have the guts to try. To at least give it a go. That experience taught me that I have the motivation it takes to take that first step, and that’s made me a much stronger person.

More confident. More determined.

I also spent the majority of my life expecting the world to provide for me rather than the other way around.

This was my most devastating failure and one that I’ve always regretted. As a young lad, I had certain expectations that if you acted a certain way, or said certain words, that certain things would happen as a result. Cause and effect.

A simple mathematical equation.

But, life doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t a set of equations. Life is organic. Sometimes, stuff happens whether you expect or deserve it or not.

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. Math does an amazing job at balancing a checkbook, but it doesn’t magically explain life. Sometimes, 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2.

When it comes to figuring out life, there are just too many variables in the mix to simplify things to that degree. I learned that the hard way. But through all my failures, my perspective improved every step of the way. I meticulously became a better person.

The more proactive I am, the more successful I become.

Today, I am not afraid to ask for help. I no longer take things so personally. People are going to be who they want to be, and that includes me. I finally asked myself who that person is. Who do I want to be? Then, be that person.

Now, I:

  • Explore every opportunity in front of me
  • Am not afraid to try new things because I always learn something
  • Possess the confidence necessary to take that first step, because very often, all you need is that first step

And through all my mistakes, I know what driving around in a loud sports car (as I did in my late 20s and early 30s) and the fastest motorcycle on the road is like, so I no longer have that urge.

I know what it’s like to eat every meal out and live like a rockstar.

I’ve been the person who buys himself everything he wants, almost without hesitation. Been there, done that.

Throughout all these mistakes, the urge to live like a superstar has come and gone. Hopefully, for good.

But, I keep asking myself: If I hadn’t made those mistakes in a previous life, would I be more likely to make them in a later one?

For me, that answer is simple: Yes.