Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel to a few hundred people about Learning and Leadership. What was supposed to be a conversation about achieving success through learning and developing your leadership skills, quickly turned to the topic of failure and the importance of failing fast, failing forward and ultimately just failing as a means to reach your goal.

Below is a partial transcript of what I had to say on the topic:

The business world and especially Silicon Valley is consumed with the term and concept of failing fast or as I like to call it failing forward as it implies a movement and a direction versus just failing in place.

No matter your preference, we all know that the road to success is paved with failure but you didn’t come here to hear me spout cliche quotes about the importance of failing – we’ve all read them and many of us in the room today has experienced them firsthand.

Instead, I want to talk about “rejection” a term that is not readily used – possibly because it carries with it a stigma of (wait for it)…failing.

You see it comes full circle. Success and failure are inescapably joined at the hip and opposite sides of the same coin. Many (if not all of us) here collapse the two.

Everyone in this room – including me has been rejected at one point in their life.

Whether it was from a job opportunity, a loved one, a school, an investor…something or someone has at one point in time told you:

  • NoNo thank you or maybe even No way.

It sucks.

It hurts, and it’s real. Anyone who tells you different is lying.

The real question is this:

just because you were rejected doesn’t mean you failed, does it?

This is where truly successful people become wildly successful people and yes, it does have to do with growth mindset but also pure resiliency and the desire to want more.

Being rejected is a part of life, a gift actually. They are the opportunities to build your character. It’s up to you to seize those opportunities to create something – in this case yourself.

I have been rejected so much in my life that I could fill a bathtub with my tears.

I was told growing up playing sports that I was too small, too slow or too fat. I was rejected by girls I asked out on dates. I was told I wasn’t smart enough to graduate high school and I have been rejected by more jobs, hiring managers and recruiters than I can count and you know what?

I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Today I am happily married with two kids, I have run a marathon in every state, have multiple degrees from graduate schooling and a successful coaching practice but you know what? That doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that I took all those rejections and refused to believe that I am a failure – end of story. Instead I looked for ways to become the best version of myself.

So I say “Thank you” (pause) to each and every one of those people for doubting me and instilling the fire, desire and hunger to prove them wrong, and myself right.

Without those opportunities, I would have not had the chance to build myself up and become the person I am proud to be today…here – standing before all of you.

Being rejected isn’t going away and failing at something doesn’t make you a failure unless you choose to let it. It’s entirely up to you – not your friends, loved ones, bosses or anyone else.

Just you.

The next time you fail at something, I want you to ask yourself (and answer) these three questions:

  1. What am I making this current failure mean about me?
  2. What’s the lesson here for me to learn?
  3. How can I apply that learning now – today?

After you do that, I want you to find that person and thank them. Yes you heard me – thank them. Thank them for providing you the opportunity to grow.

They just gave you a gift…now it’s up to you if you are going to open it.

The floor is yours: What’s your favorite quote about believing in yourself?

With leadership,

Joshua / www.JoshHMiller.com

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