Break Down to Rise Up: Why Failure and Heartache Are Catalysts for Greatness

10/28/2014 04:39 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

A few days ago, I was sitting in a café with one of my best friends. We're both owners of startups and consider ourselves to be solopreneurs (meaning entrepreneurs who work mostly on their own, without a team or staff members).

She, on the brink of tears, began telling me about the fact that she felt like a failure because her personal life wasn't where she wanted it to be and her startup seemed to experience an incessant stream of setbacks. The dream of being a high-flying millionaire nomad who could live in almost any country hadn't arrived and her life simply wasn't where she wanted it to be.

As I looked at her, I resonated with the feeling of pain and the yearning for change that she so desperately longed for. I too had been in her shoes. I'd known (and still know) what it's like to feel as if things have fallen apart and there's nothing that can pick you up.

For some strange reason, I looked at my friend, held out a hand and uttered words that were so defiant that I still think they must have come not from myself but from a higher power. As these words flew out of my mouth, I felt tingles race down my spine.

What did I say that was powerful? It was this:

"Honey, sometimes you have to completely break down to rise up."

My friend looked at me in a way that she hadn't before. The only thing she could say in response was, "Wow... Wait, say that again?"

"Sometimes you need to breakdown to rise up."

She realized then that this was her breakdown moment.

She needed to completely fall flat on her face in order to rethink, recoup and recharge.

You see, every single one of us has had a breakdown moment. Some of us have them once a year or once a month or even every day. The danger is that often, when we break down and feel as if things will never get better, we keep ourselves in that dark, sad state and struggle to come out of it. If we however, choose to accept that breakdowns are a normal part of our life journeys we'll be far more equipped to handle them and to deal with them when they happen.

Furthermore, it's imperative that we come to the realization that breakdowns are a catalyst for positivity.

They make us aware of what's not working in our lives, which in turn leads to us figuring out how to fix the not-so-great things and make them better. Essentially, breakdowns strengthen and empower us but it is up to us to realize their power and to use them as a tool for personal, spiritual and occupational growth.

I'm lucky that as an entrepreneur, I get to experience breakdowns all the time and although it's taken me four years to realize their potential, I'm now glad that I can use them as a mechanism for my own personal development.

So the next time you feel sad, unhappy or on the brink of having a big, medium or small breakdown, remind yourself that your mind, body and spirit and working collectively to open you up to change. Use your breakdowns wisely and don't be afraid to breakdown to rise up.


Victoria Olubi is an author, entrepreneur and educator from London. She is the founder of and When she's not running multiple businesses, she enjoys writing, walking for hours on end and reading about personal development.

Follow Victoria on Twitter at