Here's a secret: My current career success wouldn't exist without a betrayal. I originally partnered to create my first app, So Quotable, and offloaded the programming, tech and development to a trusted party. As we were about to launch, the partner disappeared - with the code. It took months to track them down, but in the interim I decided to learn to program and design the whole thing from scratch, just as I was becoming a stay-at-home dad. The app got done and pushed me into entrepreneurship, leading to the massive success of my second app, Cuddlr, which inspired my best-selling series The Ultimate Bite-Sized Entrepreneur as well as this very column. Without the let down four years ago, you wouldn't be reading this now.

The fact is that your life has that same element: A person, event or circumstance that pushed you to the brink and turned you into a higher level of yourself. You should not curse your enemies. You should thank them.

Be grateful for your obstacles

Ryan Holiday's best-seller The Obstacle is the Way takes its' name from this quote from Stoic Marcus Aurelius:

The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

I interpret it as "What blocks you is what makes you." It is a double-edged sword: Your obstacles can pull out your most undesirable and base traits as well as push you to be your very best, well beyond of what you thought you were capable. It really isn't about what happens, but what you get out of it.

Or, to paraphrase Jim Rohn, it doesn't matter what happens, but what it makes of you.

Embrace your new identity

I would not have donned the entrepreneur identity unless I had to. In fact, the attributes that I was offloading - marketing a new service, understanding the tech intricacies, taking the solopreneur reigns - I assumed I wasn't capable of. I projected those strengths onto other people. However, when I lost my support, I found those latent skills within me: My journalism background meant I knew how to connect with the press, my youth programming computers gave me the skillset to learn and my years of interviewing successful entrepreneurs showed me the pattern of good leadership and ingenuity. In retrospect, as I share in my latest book, I had the blueprint, but didn't know it was there until I needed it.

The big caveat, though, is that you must let go to grow. You cannot fully understand, or even embrace your growth unless you make peace with the circumstances that brought you there. The anger, bitterness or revenge in your heart will dominate any potential positive to arrive, since you'll be focused on fixing the past rather than maximizing the future.

I forgave the betrayal long ago and, today, am even thankful that I was given the circumstances that accelerated my growth.

Who caused you enough pain to force you to grow in ways you never would have otherwise? Understand that the most important lessons often come in thorns - and the best revenge on a frustrating situation is to use it as a springboard to success.

Published on: Nov 20, 2017