Despair. Anxiety. Fear. Struggle. These were all powerful emotions I felt 12 years ago today. You see, 12 years ago, in 2002, I was in love with a married woman named Carrie. We became best friends but I wanted more. I wanted desperately for her to leave her husband, but she wouldn't. She felt a connection with me but she felt committed to her husband, to try to make things work. I was devastated. I struggled tremendously, holding on to the hope that she'd change her mind, holding on to the hope that we'd be together, holding on to the knowledge that we had an amazing connection. Through the help of an incredible therapist and great, supportive friends and family, I finally let go. I let go of those hopes, let go of that connection, let go of what I could not control, and let go of Carrie. We didn't talk at all for two years. Then, two years later, I decided to call Carrie. As it turned out, she had tried everything in her power to make her marriage work, but in the end, had decided to get a divorce. Weeks later we began dating. A year later we got engaged. Another year later, in 2006, we got married. Fast forward another eight years and we've been blessed by two children and two fast-growth companies, Likeable Media and Likeable Local.

Finding power in letting go

Carrie is my wife, best friend, and business partner. She's the best thing to happen to me, since, well, ever. But neither my relationship nor my subsequent success would have been possible had I not been able to let go. Letting go is arguably the single most important skill in life and business. Too often, we hold onto the past, hold onto false hopes, hold onto grudges. Too often, we hold onto beliefs that a product will be successful, or that we're not good enough, or to criticism. Holding on is never good. Letting go and forgiving ourselves and others is powerful and positive and often leads to greatness. How does an entrepreneur know the difference between healthy persistence and letting go of what's not going to work? Do a gut check. Ask your trusted friends and advisers. Because the amazing thing about letting go is, once you let go, you open up new doors and new opportunities for yourself. Letting go and forgiveness aren't easy, though. I'm a huge fan of inspirational quotes to help us succeed. Here are 17 quotes to inspire you in the essential skill of letting go, from everyone from Mahatma Gandhi to Mark Twain to Beyoncé.

  1. "Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." --Paul Boese
  2. "Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it." --Ann Landers
  3. "The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday." --Steve Maraboli
  4. "Thank God I found the good in goodbye." --Beyonce Knowles
  5. "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." --Mahatma Gandhi
  6. "Always forgive your enemies--nothing annoys them so much." --Oscar Wilde
  7. "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." --Mark Twain
  8. "When you forgive, you in no way change the past--but you sure do change the future." --Bernard Meltzer
  9. "People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what's bitter and move on." --Bill Cosby
  10. "To err is human; to forgive, divine." --Alexander Pope
  11. "Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting." --William Arthur Ward
  12. "It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited." --Lewis B. Smedes
  13. "Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself." --Suzanne Somers
  14. "Without forgiveness, there's no future." --Desmond Tutu
  15. "Sooner or later we've all got to let go of our past." --Dan Brown
  16. "Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose." --Lyndon B. Johnson
  17. "The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams." --Oprah Winfrey

Letting go of what I can't control has helped me tremendously, in business and in life. Now it's your turn. What have you let go of in order to move on and succeed, in business, and in life? Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below, and share this post with your network to help your connections let go.