Want a Happier, More Fulfilling Life? 75-Year Harvard Study Says Focus on This 1 Thing


Positive Alacrity is the art of creating micro-experiences that have an emotionally uplifting impact on others. But I’m getting ahead of myself …

A quick Google search for “secret to happiness” brings up over 7,500,000 results.

That’s a lot of people writing about and searching for something that, according to a groundbreaking Harvard study, has already been found.

That’s right: Thanks to Harvard’s Grant and Glueck studies — which tracked 724 participants from varying walks of life over the course of 75 years — we’ve already uncovered the key to long-term happiness and fulfillment.

The answer? Our relationships.

Here’s Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

In other words: The quality of our life — emotionally, physically, and mentally — is directly proportional to the quality of our relationships.

But there’s a catch. If there’s one thing most of us have learned, it’s this: Just knowing a lot of people isn’t enough.

True fulfillment in relationships is about genuine connection, and one of the most efficient ways to form that connection is by practicing what we at Mindmaven call Positive Alacrity; a skill we define as creating micro-experiences that cause an emotional uplifting in others.

The Uncomfortable Truth About Relationships

Did we really need a 75-year study to tell us relationships are important?

Probably not; I bet many of you already knew that. So why do we so often struggle to treat many of the most important relationships in our lives with the reverence and priority we know they deserve?

For example, do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • When under stress, you may have a tendency to be ruder to your spouse than you’d ever dream of being to a complete stranger.
  • When building a business, you’re willing to work 60-hour weeks but somehow never “have time” to check in with lifelong friends.
  • Speaking of business: You may fail to consistently and proactively invest in deepening the professional relationships that might provide the breakthrough opportunities you need.

So why do we do this? Because …

Although many things in life are deadline and urgency driven, relationships almost never are.

As a result, they’re often one of the first parts of our lives that we neglect until we “find the time.”

The good news is, building those deep, meaningful relationships isn’t as daunting or time-consuming as it may sound. In fact, by focusing on one habit, anyone can build more fulfilling relationships every day.

The Secret Factor Controlling the Quality of Your Relationships

But what determines the level of fulfillment we find in our relationships?It isn’t simply “knowing” the other person.

What makes you feel happy or fulfilled isn’t the relationship itself, but the interactions that make that relationship up.

Here’s what it comes down to: The only path to achieving the goal of a fulfilling life is to have fulfilling relationships, and those relationships can only be created by consistently connecting through meaningful interactions.

Let me illustrate with a few examples.

#1: “I just want you to know how much I appreciate you.”

John’s wife Sarah welled up with tears as she read the unexpected thank you note her husband had written her before he left on a 6:00am flight for a business trip.

John — the CEO of an aggressively growing startup — thanked his wife for all the support and grace she’d given him over the last three years as he worked long hours to reach his — and his company’s — fullest potential.

The short note left Sarah feeling appreciated, loved, and truly known by her husband.

#2: “Thank you for sacrificing your time for our vision.”

Hannah, a recent intern-turned-engineer at a public company, felt pleasantly surprised and greatly affirmed after Erin, the CEO, walked over to her cubicle specifically to say thank you.

Without prompting, Hannah had recently pulled an all-nighter in order to ensure a backend patch was completed on time to restore server stability. And even though Erin’s visit was shorter than 30 seconds, the fact that the interaction was focused solely on thanking Hannah left her feeling appreciated for stepping up and excited to work for the company.

#3: “So you never have to lose something again.”

Cole — a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan — laughed in amusement as he wrote back “Thanks, but I hate you lol ;)” to Rob, a friend who had sent him a Tile following the Falcon’s 2017 Super Bowl loss so he’d, “never have to lose something important again.”

The practical joke made Cole smile and deepened the sense of connection and friendly rivalry the two of them shared.

The Science-Backed Power of Positivity

Here’s the key takeaways from those examples: Each time, someone performed a small, lightweight gesture. For example:

  • John’s handwritten note to his wife,
  • Erin’s 30-second interaction, or
  • Rob’s quick email and gift.

And despite the ease of each interaction, they all delivered an uplifting sense of connection to the other person.

But perhaps the best proof of the power of interactions comes from Dr. Martin Seligman’s famous Gratitude Visits. For those unfamiliar, Dr. Seligman — founder of the positive psychology movement — introduced the concept of Gratitude Visits in a University of Pennsylvania study.

Here’s how it worked: Participants were asked to write a 300+ word letter of gratitude to someone in their life, and to then visit the recipient and read the letter aloud to them.

Simple though that may be, the effects were profound: Although Gratitude Visits were one of many positivity practices recorded in the study, they were the only practice that had participants reporting increased happiness and decreased depression for a full month after completing the action.

And while I fully support the practice of Gratitude Visits, they come with a challenge: Most of us don’t have time to sit down and write a 300-word letter every time we feel positive or grateful.

So I figured if Gratitude Visits are truly one of the most fulfilling things we can do, there must be a way we can simplify it into a habit that can be practiced daily.

Building Happy, Fulfilling Relationships with Ease

The solution? Positive Alacrity.

At the end of the day, this concept’s all about consistently delivering small, simple experiences that leave people feeling genuinely uplifted. So how do we do this? It all comes down to a single habit:

When you think something positive and you genuinely believe it, voice it.

As simple as that habit may be, we believe the impact of Positive Alacrity is as profound as Gratitude Visits, with one distinct advantage: That same simplicity allows you to practice it anytime, anywhere, with practically anyone.

Why? Because most of us already think positive thoughts on a daily basis. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if you often thought things like …

  • “That’s a really insightful way to look at the situation,”
  • “I really appreciate the way she listens to me,” or
  • “Wow, he handled that ordeal really well.”

Pause a moment and test it for yourself: When was the last time you thought something positive? I’d venture to bet it was within the last 24 hours.

The problem is, we often let these thoughts come and go without ever practicing Positive Alacrity. But when we forgo voicing these thoughts to others, we cheat ourselves out of a valuable opportunity to enrich our relationships in three key ways:

  1. When you voice positive thoughts, you make the recipient feel emotionally uplifted.
  2. This feeling elevates their appreciation of you and the relationship you share.
  3. Because you were the source of that interaction, their emotional response creates an incredibly fulfilling sense of happiness and satisfaction in you.

That last part’s key: By uplifting others, we inadvertently uplift ourselves. Why? Because …

The effects of Positive Alacrity go both ways.

For instance, remember the example above with Hannah the CEO and Erin the engineer?

As a seasoned leader, Erin closely observed Hannah as she thanked her for working so diligently on that patch; so she noticed as Hannah’s expression slowly shifted from shocked confusion to recognition and, finally, to realization.

Seeing Hannah’s cheeks flush, smile spread, and eyes gleam made Erin realize she’d just delivered something truly meaningful, and Hannah’s reaction created a tremendous sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in Erin as the one who delivered that interaction.

If you’ve ever been in a similar situation to Erin’s, you probably understand exactly how she’s feeling, and know just how uplifting those feelings can be.

When you practice Positive Alacrity, you’re not only uplifting others. Above all, you’re uplifting yourself.

Positive Alacrity in Action: Mastering the Habit of Intentional Positivity

The action itself is simple: Think something positive? Voice it.

But until we turn that conscious action into an unconscious habit, we won’t be able to fully leverage it to impact our relationships and enrich our lives. And that all starts with a shift in awareness.

By default, positive thoughts often slip through the cracks before they ever reach conscious acknowledgement, let alone vocal affirmation. So how do you become more aware? By becoming intentional.

Once you’ve become aware of a positive thought, consciously label it “Positive,” then ask yourself: Do I genuinely believe this?

If you believe it, voice it. Positivity works so long as it’s perceived as genuine, and as long as you truly believe what you’re saying you can usually count on a positive outcome.

Habitualizing and Compounding the Secret to Happiness

Keep in mind: As with any new habit, practicing Positive Alacrity is probably going to feel a little clumsy or unnatural at first. But as long as you genuinely believe what you say, it doesn’t matter how awkward it comes out because it’s real.

The most important thing is that you’re voicing it. And if you’re able to push through that initial awkwardness, I can practically guarantee the process will become second nature in no time.

So how do you start? Thankfully, the practice is as simple as the theory. Try following this three-step process to utilize Positive Alacrity today.

  1. Recognition: Think of something positive that happened within the last 24 hours, then ask yourself: “Who was the cause of (or involved in) this experience that I could thank or compliment?”
  2. Specificity: Ask yourself: “What specifically did I like or appreciate about this experience/situation?”
  3. Action: Now, voice it. Pay this person a face-to-face visit. If that doesn’t work, call them. If you can’t call them, then text or email them; immediately, before you finish reading this.

Keep in mind: The steps above are an example of how to leverage Positive Alacrity retroactively, but it’s even easier to perform as you move forward in your day-to-day life.

The only thing you have to do is increase your ability to recognize these thoughts as they occur, then voice them as you become aware of them (rather than once a year when the holidays roll around).

John, Erin, and Rob are prime examples of these principles in action:

  • While getting ready to leave on his business trip, John looked over at his sleeping wife and realized just how appreciative he was for her continued understanding about his hectic travel schedule. So instead of just grabbing his jacket and heading out the door, John went over to the study, picked up some stationery, and wrote Sarah a short note expressing those feelings.
  • After learning of Hannah’s all-nighter, all Erin had to do was have a 30-second conversation genuinely thanking her. The only risk she took? Potentially being a few seconds late to her next meeting.
  • And as the Falcon’s loss made Rob realize how long it’d been since he and Cole talked, the only actions he had to take were writing his friend a tongue-in-cheek note and asking his assistant to mail it off along with a package of Tiles.

John, Erin, and Rob all spent less than a minute acting on their positive thoughts, but the uplifting emotions from those simple interactions have the potential to last for months.

And what about Sarah, Hannah, and Cole, the recipients of those interactions? They’re probably going to walk through the rest of the day feeling uplifted and empowered. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, later that same day, they provided a similar experience for someone else.

That’s the Pay-it-Forward principle in practice:

A single positive interaction can have a multiplicative effect, building and spreading further than you’d ever imagine.

Ultimately, those simple interactions are the heart of Positive Alacrity and the foundation for meaningful relationships. And, as that 75-year Harvard study taught us, those very same relationships are the secret to lifelong happiness and fulfillment.

Want to master the art of Positive Alacrity to revolutionize your relationships and enhance your life? If this was intriguing and valuable to you, and you’d like to learn more …

Click here to learn how to incorporate Positive Alacrity into your day-to-day life!

About the Author:

Patrick Ewers is the founder and CEO of Mindmaven, an executive coaching firm and educational platform focused on helping startup CEOs, executives and their team members achieve their fullest potential by delivering exceptional experiences to the most valuable relationships in their network.

Check out his blog, then follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more content like this.

Everything You Fight Has Power Over you. Everything You Accept Doesn’t


“two red boxing gloves on grey surface” by rawpixel on Unsplash

We continuously seek answers outside of ourselves. We look for them in self-help books, podcasts, seminars, mentors, and spiritual teachers. But continually looking outside ourselves for answers isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the expression of our soul’s calling. Eventually, to find our answers, we must turn inward. But going inward requires us to brave the wilderness, explore uncharted territory, and in the words of my friend AJ Leon, not follow well-lit paths, but grab a machete and hack our own.

When we go inward, we can no longer avoid our pain. We have to confront it. But there’s a strange paradox to pain. The more we fight it, the more we empower it.

Everything you fight has power over you. Everything you accept loses its problem it never gets solved? But when you finally let it go, somehow it gets sorted out. A perfect example is dating. In his course on relationships, Mark Manson says one of the best ways to meet somebody is to find something better to do than trying to meet somebody.

When the longing, striving and pushing to get what you so desperately want finally come to an end you’re free. It’s only from that place of freedom and unapologetic, no-bullshit, self-expression that you can create what Jennifer Boykin calls your beautiful immortal work and live a meaningful life.

When we surrender to the circumstances we’ve been fighting, they lose all of their power over us. But we have to be careful not to confuse surrender with resignation or apathy. When we surrender, all of our actions come from a place of peace and abundance. When desperately we fight a circumstance, we do so with the frenetic energy of chaos and scarcity.

A few days ago I was in a meeting with my content strategist. We were looking at book sales for An Audience of One, and I saw that we’d sold roughly 50 copies over the course of the week. That wasn’t going to put me on any bestseller list, or make my publisher salivate. But it made me recognize the importance of playing the long game. It was my moment of surrender. With surrender, I found clarity. I asked him what small things we could do to move the needle, and all of the following ideas came to surface:

  • Change the copy on the home page and feature someone’s Amazon review
  • Create a new graphic with all the pictures readers had posted on Instagram and use it in our newsletter.

A focus on progress gives you power. A focus on perfection disempowers you. When we’re obsessed with perfection, we overlook progress and fail to appreciate our accomplishments.

If I were only satisfied when I sold 10,000 copies of my book, I would have completely disregarded and not appreciated the fact that I had crossed the threshold of my first 1000 copies.

It’s likely we can find everything we crave from some external source within ourselves. However, it requires inner work. We can’t order it on Amazon Prime and have it show up at our doorstep the day after tomorrow. The hedonic treadmill is necessary for economic sustainability. If everybody woke up one day and decided they were enough, had enough, and didn’t need to buy anything else, the economy would collapse.

When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Surrender doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be disappointed and that everything will go your way:

  • Somebody will break your heart when you put it on the line . My sister had probably the most wise perspective on relationships I’d heard in ages. “Everybody is going to break up with you eventually until you meet the person you marry.”
  • You might get fired from a job, but it could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you.
  • A creative project might fail to live up to your expectations, but what you learn from it could be a profound personal growth experience.

If you choose to live a full-color, full contact, and fully self-expressed life, you’re going to have setbacks and disappointments. The only way to avoid disappointments is not to take any chances at all. That’s an incredibly limited way to live your life. As I said in An Audience of One, “Your circumstances can give you colors to paint with.” It’s all material.

Honor the Past

For most of us, when we think of a challenging experience from our past, whether it’s a relationship that didn’t work or a job that we got fired from, we focus on the negative and overlook the positive. We carry that energy with us into the future, and the future ends up looking like the past. But when we honor the past and take the most valuable lessons from it, and the power it has over us dissolves.

One of the exercises in a book I was reading was to write something great about every person who broke up with you. But you don’t just have to apply this to intimate relationships. It can be applied to just about anything. When you do that you see that often people give you many amazing gifts despite the pain they might have caused you. As Dani Shapiro wrote in Still Writing, the blessing is next to the wound.

  • If weren’t for the bosses who fired me, I might not be an author today
  • One girl I dated taught me how to cook, another to dress better, and so on. It didn’t work out. But it didn’t mean there wasn’t a positive gain from it either.
  • A few weeks ago my business partner Brian Koehn and I decided it was time for us to part ways. But we both agreed ending our friendship would be a much higher cost than ending our partnership. He kept us from going out of business in 2014, helped turn our business around, and because he’s left it’s forced me to step into the role of CEO finally.

When you let go of the resentment you feel towards a person who hurt you and forgive them or make peace with a difficult experience from your past, it loses its power over your and more importantly over your future. When you accept your setbacks, they become an opportunity to turn endings into new beginnings.

As somebody who has dealt with cycles of depression, I’m hyper-aware of the fact that this is easier said than done, particularly when you’ve just come out the other side or are still braving the wilderness. Here are some things that I’ve found to be helpful to both honor and let go of the past.

  • Gratitude: While gratitude doesn’t magically solve problems, it is a subtle energetic shift that can also begin to shift your mood. When you practice gratitude, you become aware of all the great things in your life you usually take for granted.
  • Upgrade Your Environment: Nothing has a more profound impact on your behavior and your emotions than your environments. While you don’t have to burn everything from your past in a blazing inferno (although that can be fun), you want the environment to be representative of who you’re becoming, your next chapter, not your previous one. This alone can have a dramatic impact in making you feel better. My conversation with Jim Bunch goes into extensive detail about the role of environments.
  • Go to Therapy: I think everyone should see a therapist at least once. A therapist is like a trainer, but for your brain instead of your body. They raise your awareness of patterns in your life. And they’re objective. You can tell them anything without any shame or fear of how you’ll be judged.
  • Self Care: Do something nice for yourself to close a chapter of your life and start a new one. Upgrading your environment is a form of self-care. Exercise, travel and new hobbies can all be forms of self-care.
  • Perspective: The other night I took a Lyft from Denver to Boulder. My driver was from Congo. He told me about the civil war, corruption, and poverty in Congo. Then I asked him about his work schedule. He drove for 10 hours each day or until he earned $200.00. It was 1 am when he dropped me off, and I asked him if I was his last ride of the day. He said that he planned to keep driving. When I heard his story, suddenly all the things I was feeling stressed about didn’t seem to matter all that much. Who would have guessed that my Lyft driver would become a spiritual teacher?

When we honor the past, we create an open space for the future. When we cling to the past, we’re likely to repeat it.

Honor What Could Be and Embrace Uncertainty

There are many things I thought would have happened in my life by the time I turned 40: marriage, family, etc. And they haven’t. For the first time in my life, I’m being forced to accept that kids might not be in my future. There are three potential scenarios for every life circumstance:

  • The way we thought it would be
  • The way it currently is
  • The way it could be

When the way it currently is isn’t the way we thought it would be, we’re shut off to the possibility how it could be. We are effectively trying to turn the past into the present.

Honoring what could be means honoring uncertainty. And for most of us, uncertainty causes fear, anxiety, and a projection of worst case scenarios. But as Michelle Florendo said on a recent episode of Unmistakable Creative, what we overlook when it comes to uncertainty is the amazing things that could also happen.

The Divine Order of the Universe

If you’re feeling behind the eight ball and you’re thinking you should have the bestseller or the marriage, or why did that happen, or why’d you get fired, if you’re in a dark place, just take one grain of what I’m saying now. Just believe me for a nanosecond, that really, there is a divine order to things. Every single disappointment and I’ve had some significant ones. Every failure, every heartbreak, everything that I went after so, you know, vigorously that didn’t turn out, thank God. I was spared some kinds of destiny. I just have a deeper level of trust now. Doesn’t mean it’s easy all the time. Doesn’t mean I don’t want what I want.” — Danielle LaPorte

There seems to be divine order to the events of the universe:

  • Every loss becomes an opening for a gain
  • Every setback becomes an opportunity for a comeback

But embracing the divine order of the Universe requires faith in forces beyond our control. It’s difficult to see the good that will come from something terrible in the moment that it happens. It’s often something that we only recognize in retrospect :

  • I thought not getting a job offer from Intuit after my summer internship and graduating into the great recession was the worst thing that could happen to me career-wise. But it turned out to be the catalyst for starting what eventually became the Unmistakable Creative Podcast.
  • In 2013, I was laid off from a freelance writing gig. The woman I reported to said I was outgrowing the role. Shortly after that, I self-published The Art of Being Unmistakable, which became a Wall-Street Journal best-seller, and eventually led to a book deal to write An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake, and Unmistakable: Why Only is Better than Best.

Thanks to the divine order of the Universe, I was spared working at a job I probably would have hated, and spared writing about subjects I didn’t care

Surrender goes counter to nearly every one of our cultural instincts, in which we’re taught to, strive, hustle, grind, kick ass and take names. But when you surrender, the result is inspired action. It has a different kind of energy to it. What we know about energy is that like attracts like. Acting out of desperation results in more desperation. Acting out of inspiration results in more inspiration. The paradox of surrender is that it puts you in a position of power.

Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, Not to Who Someone Else is Today


Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Jordan Peterson said that.

It’s rule number 4 of his best-selling book, 12 Rules For Life.

“No one else is really like you in any deep sense,” Peterson said. “The conditions of your life truly are unique.”

You have no idea how much time and effort someone else has put into achieving the results you envy.

Channel your envy into purpose.

“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.”

The pragmatic principle of this chapter is to consistently bargain with yourself to make small incremental positive changes in your life.

The idea is not only measurable but also fulfilling to see the little gradual improvements in your own life.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough,” says Alain de Botton.

Peterson encourages us to avoid comparing our progress against others but instead against where we previously had been.

It’s a great way to make progress in life.

The human brain has a natural tendency to make comparisons as a system of developing logic and reasoning.

You can’t stop comparing. It’s inevitable.

But you can channel your brain to make a better comparison in your long-term interest, growth, and happiness.

Change the object of comparison to yourself.

If the urge to compare is too strong to ignore, measure yourself against yourself.

Once you truly understand how to let go of your comparison mindset, you will see the world from an entirely different perspective.

The dangers of pinning our happiness/progress with on how we measure up to others are too great to ignore.

The more you desperately want to be like someone else, the more unworthy you feel. The more you desperately want to be happier, the lonelier you become, despite the awesome people surrounding you.

What do you know about yourself?

You are here to live your own story.

Don’t focus on the actions of other people, but on your own.

Aiming at the wrong thing has serious adverse consequences. It causes us to miss other important things in life.

“There is an endless supply of people to whom you could compare yourself and your accomplishments, but, inevitably, you’ll always end up on the losing side of the comparison. That’s because there will always be someone who has done something that you wished you could also accomplish” says Lisa Quest of Forbes.

Living in constant envy of others is not wisdom.

Wisdom is facing the world exactly as it is and opening our eyes to opportunities to improve ourselves, the world and those around us.

In life we only see what we aim at.

The rest of the world (and that’s most of it) is hidden.

If you consistently focus on everything you don’t have, instead of who you were yesterday and how far you’ve come, you will build self-doubt overtime.

When you start aiming at something different — something like “I want to be better than I was yesterday ” — your minds will start presenting you with new information, derived from your previously hidden self, to aid you in your new pursuit and quest to become a better version of yourself.

The idea is to start using yourself yesterday as a baseline, so you can at least notice the direction and magnitude of the changes you can make today.

With enough information about who were yesterday, you can use this knowledge to influence your future actions so that on average you are improving over time.

The key to the good life you really need is giving a damn about what’s important to your growth, career and total well being.

To improve daily, put your gap time to good use

Anywhere from 1–3 hours of your day is probably spent in “gap time.”

Gap times are those between meaningful activities but aren’t normally long enough to get more done. Or the time you need to recover from deep work.

Whether it’s 10 minutes or 1 hour a day, all of us can devote a small portion of our time to learning, and personal growth.

Your life and career depends on it.

Commuting to work, waiting in line, small talks at the office, small breaks in your schedule, long breaks from work and everything you do when you are not actively working on your tasks for the day.

You can listen to a podcast, learn a new skill, read a book, read the articles you’ve bookmarked, plan the rest of your day, or better still take a productive pause to clear your mind.

You can cut back on other low-value activities (responding to social media distractions) to make time for learning.

I make time for personal growth by making time.

Spend most of your free time learning.

Make most of every little spare time to get better everyday.

“It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary, says Darren Hardy,” author of The Compound Effect.

Extraordinary people don’t manage time, they make time for what’s important. Make time for yourself.

Darren lays out a simple formula in the first chapter of his book…

Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE

According to Darren, “Small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference” in your life and put you on the road to the career success you want and deserve.

You don’t need a radical process to grow or become your best self.

The small choices you make daily matters.

Creating a career development plan with goals and objectives; and then work toward accomplishing these at a comfortable pace, bearing in mind what you accomplished yesterday.

Take charge of your life. If you’re unsatisfied with the present, do something different that will improve your odds of success.

Stop giving a f*ck about everything you are not and start living!

Your life will significantly improve if you care less about what you are not, and care more about becoming the best version of yourself.

4 Impressive Ways Great Leaders Handle Their Mistakes


One of the ways you can tell good leaders from great leaders is how they handle their mistakes.

All leaders make mistakes. To be human means to mess up once in a while. But the difference between good leaders and great ones lies in how they handle those mistakes.

What are you modeling to those around you when you make a mistake? Your team will be watching, and what they see will affect their relationship with you and the level of trust they hold for you, so it’s important to get it right. Here are four simple but impressive ways you can demonstrate great leadership when you make a mistake:

1. Acknowledge your mistakes.

Never try to cover up or blame others for what went wrong. If you messed up, admit it and own it. It doesn’t have to be a big deal–simply acknowledge your responsibility and move on. Insecure leaders may be afraid of looking weak, but not admitting their mistake makes them look worse and costs them respect. I believe that in leadership, vulnerability is the ultimate strength. Admitting your mistakes earns you the respect of those you lead and makes your leadership human.

2. Learn from your mistakes.

Once you learn from your mistakes, don’t repeat them. As the old saying goes, when you repeat a mistake it is not a mistake anymore but a decision. The nature of great leadership lies in accepting risks, trying new things, and taking big chances, looking for the limits of what’s possible. And the best leaders know creativity often means breaking rules, making mistakes and learning along the way. Mistakes are among the greatest teachers, and working to understand your mistakes is one of the best forms of self-education. Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes; leadership is learning from them.

3. Teach others from your mistakes.

The times in our lives when we feel we have the least power can actually be the times we have the most–when we can affirm or redefine who we are and what we believe, and make choices that help others benefit from our experiences, good and bad. When you make mistakes, make a point of teaching others what you’ve learned. Doing so builds connection and trust. The best leaders are the great teachers, coaches, and guides who show us the way after they have been down that path.

4. Move beyond your mistakes.

Success is connected with action. Successful people keep moving; they make mistakes but don’t quit. Learn to use failure as a stepping stone away from the past. You don’t forget your mistake, but you don’t dwell on it or let it get you down. Get up and keep moving.

Like all of us, you’re bound to make mistakes. But when you handle them well, they can help you be a better leader and a better person.