Last night I saw the movie Up in the Air about a corporate downsizing specialist (played by George Clooney). Of course, Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, has firing people down to a science and he consoles his poor victims with the advice, “Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.”

Though Bingham’s words are insincere, they hold great truth. Sometimes it takes a wake up call – like losing your job – to regain control of your life and dreams.

Unfortunately, the volatile economy has recently landed many good people in the “hot seat” facing someone just like Bingham. When I think of the people that I know who have faced this fate, they were devastated at first but then an amazing thing happened…they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and went on to do remarkable things like: start a freelancing business, open a boutique, launch a lecture series, write a book, travel, and go back to school. Losing their jobs served as a catalyst for these people to take control of their futures in a way they wouldn’t have if their job security had remained in tact.

Even if you’ve never been laid off or fired, we all face setbacks – rejections, lost opportunities, bad decisions, unforeseen disasters, etc. – in our journeys towards our dreams. However, if we keep in mind that these setbacks don’t necessarily have to hold us back, but can instead be vehicles of growth, we too can traverse life’s challenges and come out on the other side more capable of building our empires.

Have you ever faced a negative event that ultimately helped you accomplish something greater?