July 23, 2023

Turn failure into momentum: A journey to antifragility

Failure isn’t something to be feared; it’s a powerful teacher. It is the fuel for learning and growth, and will most certainly help us get to our goals that much faster.

Originally posted in Fast Company, by Aaron Bare, July 24th, 2023

Over 15 years ago, I found myself in a place no entrepreneur wants to be: Failure Town.

My startup went from making $130,000 a month in recurring revenue to absolutely nothing—nada, zilch, zero. It was 2008, and like many others, my business took a hit when the mortgage crisis derailed the economy in epic proportions. Employers stopped hiring overnight, laid off employees, and my video-job-posting startup lost all its clients and revenue just as quickly. The collapse was disastrous for me and my angel investors.

Some of these investors blamed me for “not” predicting the global economic crisis. I felt responsible and doubted my abilities as a leader and as an entrepreneur. It felt like I was a pinata at a ten-year-old’s birthday party, scattering fragments of my confidence everywhere across the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As a result, the near future was grim while the economy rebounded. I avoided local events and ultimately focused my career on facilitating global clients who wanted to learn from America’s innovation engine. Ironically, it’s the same engine that thrives on embracing failure.

I had doubts I would ever be an entrepreneur again.

At the start of my change agents’ journey, I was still fragile, like a brittle over-baked cookie in the hands of a first grader. I had to embrace vulnerability and muster up the confidence to share my failures openly on my journey to antifragility. I learned and grew from the tragedy coming to understand that failure is part of the journey.

It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond that matters.

All tragedies are comedies if you can laugh at them. Suddenly, I had an epiphany that failing fast is really the secret to success—the faster you learn from it, the faster you find success. Leaders like Edison and Dyson clearly shared this idea.

I consider the ability to embrace change as the number one skill for the future. Change creates uncertainty and when done correctly, includes failure—the core of learning, experimenting, and growing.

When I engage with clients, I use the concept of antifragility to guide leaders to the next level. I find almost all leaders lingering in “decision limbo,” often choosing to not make a decision (which, in itself, is a decision). Antifragility allows leaders to navigate change with ease. This is my journey toward antifragility using the first four steps in our Change Agents Academy: Mindset, Habits, Journey, and Map.


Change starts with an idea, thought, and creativity to create something new in your life, despite the fear of failure. Resilience means continuously generating new ideas, even in the face of unsuccessful ones. With antifragility, we use our failed ideas as fuel for creativity, sparking momentum in a graveyard of failed attempts. Each effort gets you closer to your goal.


In the fragile state, many hold onto ineffective habits that do not serve them well. Through resilience, change agents break old habits, experiment, and form new productive habits. By embracing antifragility, we adapt and improve our habits under stress. This fosters more effective behaviors over time. When we improve 1% each day, we have the potential for 37x growth in 1 year.


We are only as good as the stories we tell ourselves. It’s up to us to dive into our past journey to unlearn and reprogram the stories that shaped our beliefs. This enables us to engage in a future journey toward desired change.

I recognize that we all find comfort in a fixed mindset, but we need to cultivate an attitude of antifragility that thrives under pressure. This allows us to gain momentum from failures and develop gratitude for every obstacle along the way. Ultimately, I found my way to antifragility by rewriting my past and building a new future story around accepting failure, which led to accelerated learning and growth.


As we think bigger about ourselves, we must choose the obstacles to focus on, instead of letting the obstacles choose us. In my story, I actively worked to become resilient and learned to focus on the obstacles that deserved my energy.

Exponential leaders selectively choose their challenges as tools for growth, embodying antifragility, while eliminating small stuff altogether. In the change agents academy, we create a map as a tool to focus energy and emphasize that the quickest way from point A to B is often not a straight line—it’s the path of least resistance. Creating a map through your life helps you articulate the right environment, thinking, habits, and stories needed to be successful. After all, we are only as good as our last thought.

Today, I’m an entrepreneur again. I’m grateful for everything that has happened to me, as it has shaped me, and will shape my future. I take all the energy the world gives me, and I use it as fuel to get to where I want to go. Failure isn’t something to be feared; it’s a powerful teacher. It is the fuel for learning and growth, and will most certainly help us get to our goals that much faster.

Laugh at it, learn from it, and embrace it.

Join the Change Agents Academy and start learning, laughing at, and embracing failure. 

Subscribe to Aaron's Newsletter