It was only through failure that author Brandon LaBella was able to live with purpose and meaning.
The 23-year-old graduated from his university’s business administration program in New York State and sought work on Wall Street. But after he was rejected by a large investment firm, he realized working in finance would have been living up to an image of success that was not his own. And many of his peers felt the same.
“We are so pressured to succeed, living up to a standard that is not true to ourselves. The only way to find our authentic self is to fail. Why not give people a handbook on how to fail freely,” said LaBella.
The entrepreneur published his book with Tellwell in April. “The Journey to Failing Freely: How to Find Fulfillment By Letting Yourself Fail” is a guide for young people who are trying to find their life’s purpose and passion.
“There was no book that I could relate to about how to navigate college and where I wanted to be at the end of it,” said the New York-based author. “I was tired of being told by everyone around me I was doing great and on the right path when I hadn’t failed once and felt caged on a societal leash.”
He wrote his book to inspire other students to seek out life experiences to find what it is that makes them truly happy without fear of failure or judgment. He says many people are trying hard to preserve a certain self-image, and often disregard their mental and physical health in the process.
Failing freely first starts with taking care of your health, LaBella says. Then he recommends people “take calculated risks, embrace the pain of suffering, put themselves in a safe environment to grow while reaching their full potential.”
LaBella’s own journey to failing freely began when he left New York to travel the world and find himself. His curiosity led him to 40 states and 45 countries. In South Africa, he met someone who changed his perspective on life.
LaBella was hiking Table Mountain outside of Cape Town when he met a man whose home was at the bottom of the mountain. Together, they hiked and talked for three hours.
“He had nothing and yet he was the happiest person. At that time, I had no fulfillment, no purpose. After speaking with him, I committed to living a responsible and meaningful life. I stopped drinking and worked on my physical health.”
He trained to run the New York City marathon in 2017, but 10 days before the start of the race, LaBella sprained his MCL and ACL. Still, he was determined to run, but now it would have to be on crutches. He wasn’t sure how far he would make it. LaBella not only finished the full 42-kilometre run, but clocked in at six hours and 19 minutes, beating the existing Guinness World Record for fastest marathon completed on crutches.
“That gave me the confidence and shed off the fear of failing freely and writing this book, because anything is truly possible when you are mentally and physically healthy.”
LaBella wrote the book during his travels and went through three rounds of edits while he was travelling through the United States and Canada. He says being a published author “feels amazing.”
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I feel alive and awake. I’m grateful to be inspiring people around the world and making the world a happier and more peaceful place.”
His book reached the top charts on Amazon in the category of Mental Health Dreams. Net proceeds are going to a charity, Pencils of Promise, which helps kids worldwide who can’t read.
His advice to first-time authors is to enjoy the process, stay positive, give it everything you’ve got and rely on a trusted group for feedback.
The young author has finished his second book titled “How to be Your Authentic Self” and will write a third book about the positive human interactions from his travels.
On top of writing, the world-traveler facilitates personal development workshops in New York and Central America. Most recently, he was in front of high schoolers and university students speaking about emotional intelligence and empathy in his hometown of Rye, NY.
He reaches even more people through his podcast, Failing Up, where he interviews high-performing millennials.
“We have the power to become our authentic self and create a life we want to live every day. Struggle and failure only make the journey more meaningful and fulfilling.”
It’s the start of a lifelong path to inspire others to let go of their fears and work for their dreams.