I remember the pressure I felt in high school of always having the right answers. I was an insecure teenager. Getting it right all the time made me feel good. Getting it wrong was devastating.

It’s a terrible way to live.

Rather than learning, I was memorizing. I’d fill my head full of facts, but very few of them were all that useful because I didn’t struggle to come to terms with them.

I had this idea that struggling is bad. It’s not. Struggling is learning.

Fighting your way through something is a powerful tool to grow and develop. Yeah, it’s messy and painful, but being able to put actual experience to ideas is so valuable.

A while back I took an opportunity that a lot of friends thought was a bad idea. They were a bit shocked I would even consider it.

While I knew there was definitely risk involved, I had a lot of hope that I could make it work. So I took it.

It didn’t work. I quit shortly after.

I have great friends so no one said, “I told you so” – even if they were thinking it (and I wouldn’t blame them).

But what’s interesting to me, looking back on it, is that if I could go back and have a re-do, I would do the exact same thing.

Because the lessons I learned from a short period of something not working out – some might call it a “failure” – are some of the best I’ve learned in my life.

I know way more now than I did before. And it only took a few months to learn a lot.

Yeah, “failure” isn’t fun. That period of my life was tough. Lots to work through.

But today, I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had working, and it’s all directly related a lot of failures – and growth – of the past.

Now, no one wants to look stupid. That’s not fun.

But sometimes looking stupid is the investment required to have an awesome future.

So. The next time you have an opportunity that involves a lot of risk of failure, don’t run from it.

Best case it all works out. Worst case it all falls apart and you have to go do something else. If you keep your eyes open and look for lessons throughout the process, I promise you’ll learn so much in the process and grow a ton as a person.

Ok, maybe not.

Here’s the one thing you need if you want to fail and grow:

Don’t get bitter.

Being bitter or offended stunts your growth. It clouds your judgement. It makes failure personal. It’s not.

Bitterness turns you into a powerless victim because you’re focused on what everyone else did. You can’t control what other people do – it’s foolish to waste any energy on it.

When you fail, look in the mirror where you actually have the ability to control. That’s where growth happens because you have complete control over your actions and your learning.

Instead of bitterness, be grateful for everyone. Whether good or bad, they are part of your learning journey and help you grow.

If you do that, you’ll do great things.

photo credit: Unfair via photopin (license)