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039: Afraid to Fail? Here’s Why Failure is Really a Gift

Where does fear of failure come from? What if, this New Year, instead of making a bunch of resolutions we probably won’t keep, or setting lofty goals for success, what if we actually set a goal to fail?

“There’s only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho

Reframing the Fear of Failure

Is the fear of failure preventing you from going for your dreams?

The truth is, we all have this fear. No matter how success you are, it’s still there.

The fear of failure is an evolutionary protective measure. Our brains are literally wired to avoid failure!

While this might be a safe way to keep us alive when a tiger is chasing us, it doesn’t serve our current 21st Century needs and desires for growth, as “failure” is an inevitable part of this process.

So, what if the answer wasn’t to avoid failure? What if we could get over our fear of making mistakes, and actually even embrace those mistakes? What if we reframed our minds to think of failure as the only true path to success?

Yes, failure really is a gift.

The truth is, we’ve got so much to learn from failure. Like: 

  • When we try things out, we learn what we don’t want, which brings what we DO want clearly into focus.
  • What worked yesterday, doesn’t always work today, because we change over time. Trying new things allows us to bring us into alignment with where we’re at in life right now. 
  • When we fail, our brains actually grow. We don’t map any neural pathways when things are easy! 
  • Mistakes teach us tenacity, which is absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs! 
  • When we fail, we have to problem solve in order to fix things and get back on track. This sparks creativity!  
  • Failure teaches us to adapt to change.

Examples of Overcoming Failure

Let me give you some famous examples:

  • Walt Disney dropped out of school and was fired from a newspaper job for supposedly not being very creative. 
  • Fred Astaire didn’t hit movie stardom until well into his 30s, and after his first screen test, an executive wrote down: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”
  • And, of course we’ve all heard the stories of how many times J.K. Rowling failed before she hit the jackpot of Harry Potter stardom.

Imagine how different the world of entertainment would be if all of these incredibly impactful visionaries let the fear of failure hold them back?

My Goal to Fail This Year

At the beginning of 2019, business coach Shanda Sumpter set a goal to fail 19 times in the next 12 months. She officially declared her intention, and even created a public challenge with her audience. 

Guess what happened? 

She failed to reach her goal.

In fact, Shanda only failed 15 times in 2019. But her business exploded! By the time she hit her 7th failure that year, she’d already doubled her company. 

Why? Because setting a goal to fail forced her to play BIG. She pushed herself to be brave, and the result was big time business growth and all kinds of opportunity. 

When I heard this story, I literally got goosebumps, and I knew I had to do the same thing. 

I don’t know about you, but Shanda’s story makes me want to get busy failing. 

So, while everybody else is busy talking about resolutions and goals and all their grand plans to make 2021 their best year ever, I’m actually setting the goal to fail 21 times in the next 12 months. 

That’s exactly what we’re diving into in this special New Year’s episode.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why failure can make this your best year yet
  • Exactly why we’re so afraid to fail, and how to do the hard things anyway
  • The four main types of risk
  • The price we pay for avoiding mistakes
  • The power we unleash when we overcome our fear of failure
  • And exactly how we overcome the fear that cripples us so we can get busy failing forward towards our biggest goals!

I hope this episode inspires you to reframe the way you think about failure as the only real path to success, and give you real tools you can use to stop being paralyzed by your own fear. I want you to come away feeling liberated, excited, and ready to join me in my goal to fail. 

Are you with me? 

Let’s dive into why failure is really a gift!

Subscribe and Review

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And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. My goal for this podcast is to inspire those who seek flexibility and freedom in their lives by making something happen with holistic, soulful, step-by-step strategies from me and other experts.

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Kate Kordsmeier 0:00

Happy New Year y'all. OMG, it's 2021. Thank God. Please, 2021 be better than 2020! Come on now. So most episodes that are coming out around this time of year, January. Everybody's talking about their goals and their plans, and they're setting their intentions and they're coming up with new habits and making all of these grand plans for how to make 2021 their best most successful year ever. But not me. So here's the deal. At the end of 2020, I made three new hires on my team, which was hella scary. And one of them, Adrienne, hey, Adrienne, is helping me out with the podcast. And she had this brilliant idea, which is what formed today's episode that she learned from one of her mentors, Shanda Sumpter. So in the beginning of 2019, Shanda set a goal to fail 19 times in the next 12 months, she even created this public challenge with her audience and officially declared her intention to fail. And when Adrienne told me about this, I haven't now too, I literally got goosebumps, like it was so good. And so liberating, that I knew I had to do the same thing. So I am starting 2021, with a goal to fail 21 times in the next 12 months. Now, the funny thing about Shanda's goal is that even her goal was a failure, because she actually only failed 15 times that year. But guess what else happened? her business exploded. By the time she had failed seven times in 2019, she had already doubled her company. Why? Because it forced her to play a bigger game, she knew that small acts of bravery would strengthen that muscle and teach her how to be a better leader and CEO. So she pushed herself to jump off that ledge. And the result was big time, business growth, and all kinds of opportunity. Now, I don't know about you, but hearing that story, makes me want to get real busy failing. So that's what today's episode is all about. Just like Shanda, I am going to set my intention for 2021 to be to fail. Again, my goal, I'm going to fail 21 times over the next 12 months. Who wants to do it with me? If you're in share with me on Instagram, tag me at Kate Kordsmeier and tell me how you're gonna fail this year. And I think it's going to be our best year yet, solely because we're getting rid of that fear of failure. And if you're not ready to do that, then this episode is for you. Because we're talking all about how we're all so afraid of failure. But why failure is really a gift. So let's do it. You're listening to the Success with Soul podcast with Kate Kordsmeier, ex journalists turned CEO of a multi six figure blog and online business. But it wasn't that long ago that Kate was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked confidence, clarity, and let's be honest money. But all those failures, experiments and lessons learned helped Kate create a thriving business that impacts thousands, and brings freedom, flexibility and fulfillment to her life. If you're ready to do the same and make something happen with holistic, soulful, step by step strategies from Kate and other experts, you're in the right place. here's your host, writer, educator, Mom, recovering perfectionist, bookworm and sushi connoisseur, Kate Kordsmeier. Why are we so afraid to fail? What if this New Year 2021 Oh, man, we're coming off of such a hard year. But if 2020 has taught us anything, I think it's resilience. What if instead of making a bunch of resolutions that let's be honest, we probably won't keep or setting these super lofty goals for success? What if we actually set a goal to fail? Now I bet that statement just sparked all kinds of resistance. But think about it for a second. Paulo Coelho the author of The Alchemist says "there's only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."

Wow, what if the answer wasn't to avoid failure? What if we could get over our fear of making mistakes? And actually even in brace those mistakes? What if we reframed our minds to think of failure as the only true path to success? Yes, failure really is a gift. And in this episode, I'm going to dive real deep into why we're so afraid of being wrong. The price we pay for trying to avoid mistakes, keyword being trying, and the power we unleash when we overcome our fear of failure. Because after all, if 2020 wasn't a giant, epic failure of a year, I don't know what was. So let's dive into all the ways we can grow and learn when we let go of that fear and use failure as a catalyst for success. So up first, why do we fear failure so much? First off, now, this is pretty interesting. I didn't actually know this until I was looking at the outline my team created for me for this episode, did you know that there's actually a clinical phobia of failure? Now I'm sure I'm gonna butcher the pronunciation, but I think it's called a trichophobia. And it's paralyzing fear that makes it almost impossible for the sufferer to reach their true potential. Now, most of us experience this fear to some degree. But fortunately, there are solid strategies we can tap into to conquer these fears, so we can get on with the business of reaching our dreams. And that's what we're going to talk about today. Before we tame the beast, though, I think it helps to understand it a little. Self proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Dan Bush likes to think of himself as a professional failure. To him, that's basically what defines an entrepreneur. And as he puts it, all the things we get wrong, lead us to all the things we get right. I could not agree more. But if failure is such a great thing, why do we fear it so much? And why are we even afraid to talk about it at all? I mean, nobody wants to walk into a room full of friends or colleagues and say, hey, let's talk about my latest failure. But that's actually kind of a shame, because think about how much we could learn from each other if we opened up about our mistakes a little more. I mean, y'all know me, and I'm an open book, when it comes to failure. Just go read some of my income reports where things didn't quite go as planned. But I think that one of the biggest reasons we don't talk about this is because it's embarrassing, right? Nobody wants to screw up, and especially not publicly. And of course, our culture doesn't exactly set us up for success. I mean, from birth, we're bombarded with negative messaging about mistakes, sayings, like, I had to learn the hard way and through trial and error, and don't make the same mistakes I did, or even like, crash and burn, right?

I mean, epic fail. Wasn't that like a meme that was super popular for a while, or, obviously, there's tons of memes, just with the word fail written across them. And these are all setting us up to believe that failure, it's all laced with this warning and these negative connotations. I mean, sometimes we're even punished when we mess up. We learn from an early age to cover up our downfalls and our mistakes. That's not something anybody else should see or even know happens, right? Of course, this is not true. We all know that we're also all human, and mistakes are an inevitable part of the human experience. But that social conditioning is even worse for marginalized groups like women, BIPOC, and LGBT people who experience profiling right from birth, Economic disadvantages, even being told you'll never amount to anything. I mean, these things profoundly impact a person's future, especially if those experiences are rooted in childhood. So it's no wonder it's downright impossible for many people to see failure as anything other than a barrier to opportunity, one of the greatest obstacles in life. But what I want you all to see today is that failure is actually the gateway to success. I personally believe the fastest way to success is failure, double your failure rate, you will triple your success rate, something like that. Don't quote me on the numbers. But the point is, we don't want to talk about this stuff, right? There's a stigma around it. We fear we won't be accepted by others if we admit to our mistakes. I mean, God forbid we screw up publicly. Cancel culture runs rampant. It's impossible. But no baby ever learns to walk without falling down over and over and over and getting back up to try again. And yet It's almost as if the moment we make those first steps is the only time in our life where we're actually allowed to fall down. After that, you're screwed if you screw up, right. I think one of the most powerful things to realize, though, and this is important, because you might be listening to this so far and starting to get down on yourself, yeah, why am I so afraid of failure? What's wrong with me?

The thing is, there's nothing wrong with you, our brains are actually hardwired to keep us safe. And when we look at it that way, it makes perfect sense that we'd avoid failure with every fiber of our being. It's an evolutionary protective measure. If you haven't listened to Episode 16 of the podcast with Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, after you listen to this episode, go back and check that one out, because we go deep into the science of our brains and why it is actually like a survival skill to protect us from failure. So I won't repeat too much of that here. But of course, I have to do my due diligence and just mention it here. Along those same lines, I mentioned Shanda, who inspired this episode and setting my own goal to fail 21 times this year, Shanda is the CEO of a multiple six figure company called HeartCore Business, which is just like the best name ever. And she says that women in particular view everything through a lens of safety. She says it's how we invest. It's how we make decisions. And that's how we buy. And gosh, that is so true. And this is so important to remember because women do face real risks in this world, that creative sort of habitual fear response that can unduly hold us back if we're not aware of the difference between real danger and perceived danger. Now, I'm gonna reference another podcast episode, if you haven't listened to Episode 26. With Dr. Valerie Rein, we actually talked about this genetically encoded fear in greater depth. And I do encourage you to listen to that. Because despite what some connotations of this episode might have, like, just power through, do it anyway, even if you're scared, there is some of that messaging. But there's also a very important backstory that we need to hear, become conscious and mindful of, and to approach are busting through these limiting beliefs and busting through this fear in a way that also tends to our central nervous system, and helps us to remove the blame of this fear of failure in the first place. So encourage you to give that conversation a listen to learn more about all the ways that shows up in our lives as women. Dr. Valerie is who wrote The Patriarchy Stress Disorder, and it was one of the most powerful books I read in 2020. But to bring it back to the beginning, we talked, we're talking about why this fear of failure exists in the first place. And at the root of it is likely this embarrassment, right? The shame that we feel because what would other people think if they saw us fail? And one of the most powerful messages I've one of the most powerful ways to cope with all of this is to remember that most people don't actually pay that much attention to you, and certainly not to your mistakes. I mean, Dale Carnegie, he's the man who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People. He says that we spend 85% of our time thinking about ourselves. So this means that most of what we fear about failure is in our own minds. So yeah, we may remember the sting from past mistakes for who knows our entire lives. But most of the time, others quickly forget. I mean, after all, everyone else is too busy thinking about themselves to be thinking about you. And we talked about this on another podcast episode all reference with Jillian Leslie, this was in Episode 12. Jillian reminds us that nobody cares about you. And that's actually a good thing. And once you realize that, nobody's watching you waiting for you to fall on your face and celebrate and your failure or point and laugh at you. It's kind of freeing, because you realize that there's really not as much pressure on your success as you're putting on yourself. So let's move on to the next point here, which is breaking down fear. So there's this great TED Talk called Overcoming Our Fear of Failure. It's by former tennis player Anne Guerrant. And she talks about how fear of failure can really be separated into four distinct types of risk: physical, financial, moral and social. I think they're pretty self explanatory. So I won't go into too much of the detail here. But I think the important one to talk about especially for us entrepreneurs is social risk. That's when what we're exposed to when we step into leadership and chase our dreams.

Unknown Speaker 15:05


Kate Kordsmeier 15:06

while this risk does not pose any real danger, like say physical risk, we often fear that way. And this is what comes back to kind of our biological brains and what how they're trying to protect us that our brains can't tell the difference between being chased by a tiger, and being afraid to launch your blog. And this is important because while our brains biologically don't know this, with some reprogramming of our own thoughts and beliefs, we can actually change this. But before we get there, let's talk about the other types of risk. Physical is pretty obvious. This is the you're being chased by a tiger, you could die, right? What we're dealing with as entrepreneurs is this social risk. It's the financial risk. And these financial risks can be a huge deterrent to new entrepreneurs. In fact, I know money is one of the most common reasons why potential entrepreneurs ultimately decide not to go for their dreams, or invest in new technology, or coaching or other services that they may need to start their business or to grow their business. But in order to establish a new business and grow at some point, we have to spend a little money. And I want to talk about something that people don't say a lot. It's not easy to lose money ever. I know this firsthand. If y'all have been following along, you know that in--what month--what year are we in now? I'm still confused by the dates. In October of 2019, I lost over $12,000 launching my course. And it was a bad Facebook ads investment, and it was damn painful. But here's the thing to always remember, money is a renewable resource. Now, I don't say that flippantly or to make light of the fear of financial loss. And if the, if we're talking about the difference between actually putting food on the table for your family and say investing in a mastermind, of course, you choose the former. Obviously, nobody is advocating that your business comes before your survival or your family's survival. But that's usually not what people are talking about. We're not talking about life or death, we're not talking about starving or losing our homes or launching a business. It's about where we prioritize our money. And the truth of the matter is, when you see other bloggers or online entrepreneurs, or any anybody making more money faster than you, I guarantee you, it's because they have made investments that you are not willing to make. Now, I know this is where you say no, no, you don't understand. I'm willing, I just really don't have the money. I mean, seriously, check my bank account. No, seriously, check it. But let's be honest, 99% of the time, that is simply not true. So the moral of the story that I want you to get from this is literally no one has the money. If you think most entrepreneurs who have had success, just have $20,000 lying around with nowhere to spend it, you're wrong. If you want something bad enough, and you're committed to making it happen, despite what limitations might appear, you will figure out a way to make it happen. Because again, money is not a finite resource, as in, we can always make more money, but we can never get wasted time back. So I always encourage people to do a quick reframe. If you are currently thinking I can't afford to spend any money right now, I want you to try this new thought, how am I going to get this money? What can I do to make this happen? Because real talk, if you let the conversation end at that old that, then you're probably not going to make it as an entrepreneur, because resourcefulness is an essential quality of a successful business owner. So what's it going to be? Are you going to figure it out? Are you going to pick up a few extra shifts or gigs or clients to cover the expense? Could you ask for money as a gift or save a little bit each week to afford something that you want down the road? Could you sell stuff you don't want anymore? On Next Door Facebook marketplace or host a good old fashioned garage sale? If you have a full time job currently, could you negotiate for a raise? Could you even cut back on some other expenses to find more money in your bank account like Starbucks or Netflix? If your 2020 was anything like my 2020, maybe it's Uber Eats. So are you going to give up? Or are you going to figure out a way to make it happen. Now all that being said, I think this is a real issue for women in particular, because there's a lot of conditioning that we are not worthy that we are going to have to unlearn. So Sarah Jenks said it best I got this email from her recently. She says women have been brainwashed to believe we don't have needs, women have been brainwashed to believe that our beauty and physical shape is more important than our emotional well being. Women have been brainwashed to believe that men can have whatever they want, but we cannot. Women have been brainwashed to believe that whoever is making the money has the financial power and the final say on how it's spent. Women have been brainwashed to believe that having time for ourselves, our own life is a luxury instead of a necessity. We've been brainwashed to believe that we should just be able to figure it out for ourselves. But it is high time we heal from that brainwashing. So say it with me and Sarah, I have plenty of money, and I reclaim my spending power. Again, this is about shifting your mindset around money so that this financial fear this financial risk no longer holds you back. We have to remember this mantra: Money as an abundant resource that is infinitely available to me. It only holds you back if you let it. So ask yourself now what would your life look like if you didn't let money stop you from following your life's purpose. If you need help to shift your mindset on this one a little bit more, I'll recommend another podcast episode for you to listen to it's episode eight with Kelly Marshall on this very topic. The truth is money is a tool. And Kelly has lots of tools to help you conquer this money fear and really shed those feelings of shame or scarcity that may be at the heart of your money fears in the first place.

Want to connect with other heart centered entrepreneurs? Don't forget to join the free Success with Soul Facebook community at, I go live often to answer your burning questions. Plus, you'll get to hang out with like minded bloggers and other heart centered online business owners exchanging priceless feedback, encouragement and other golden insights from the trenches. That's See you there.

All right, so let's go back to social risks. In the TED talk that I mentioned before, Anne says that if you survey people about their top fears, one of the most common ones is public speaking. And of course, this is true, Jerry Seinfeld has made the joke for years like you'd rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy, right? People do all kinds of crazy things to avoid getting up in front of others to talk. And it's because the mere idea of standing up in front of thousands of people, for example, there's this risk involved, and what is that risk? It's embarrassment, it's shame, it's self doubt, disappointment. Maybe I know we can all relate to those feelings. But something that's really helped me that I want to share with you is thinking about it in terms of the worst case scenario. What is the actual consequence of this embarrassment or shame? Or what is the worst that could happen? If you went for this thing? So okay, you've got this thing that you want to do. But you're afraid to fail? What is the worst case scenario? If you tried it, and it didn't work? The answer is almost nothing. So this reminds me of this exercise that my therapist did with me, probably six years ago. Now, I am pretty vocal about the fact that I struggle with anxiety and depression and panic attacks. And when this was all really hitting me hard for the first time in my life, it was so debilitating that I honestly struggled to leave the house. It was like my mind knew that I was safe. It knew that there was nothing out there that could hurt me. But my body wasn't convinced. And I was having all of these physical symptoms and manifestations of this fear that was so illogical, which for a logical person, like me, was really difficult to deal with. So I started seeing this therapist. And she had me do this exercise that at the time felt incredibly silly and embarrassing, but it was one of the most powerful things I've ever done. And I continue to do it frequently now because it helps me bust through fear so much. So what she had me do is turn on the voice memo app of my phone and press record. And then she kind of guided me through this, but she said okay, talk to me about what you're afraid of. And what I want you to do is tell me the story of your worst case scenario happening. So don't tell me what you're afraid of. Don't tell me what if this happens, tell it to me like it has already happened. So for example, if you're afraid that when you launch your blog, nobody will read. You're going to record yourself saying I launched my blog, and nobody came. Nobody was reading it. I was looking at my analytics for months. Close your eyes. Do this with me. And you close your eyes and you start telling the story of your most epic failure as if it has already happened. All right, you're gonna feel probably a little silly at first. And then as you continue talking and digging deeper and deeper, okay, well, then what happened? You know, she prompted me but you can prompt yourself to then what happens after nobody's reading? What do you do? And in your worst case scenario, what are you doing what's happening? So walk yourself through this story, while your phone is recording you saying it. And you'll probably start feeling some physical anxiety, maybe you'll start shaking, maybe your stones start sweating. You know, your hands might get clammy, your heart might race you might feel nauseous or physically ill you might get a tummy ache, right? So it's okay, feel the fear, you're safe. And at the end, after you've told the story of your worst case scenario, stop recording, and then play it back for yourself. and in this situation with my therapist, I played back my worst case scenario. And I literally started cracking up. It was just, it sounded so ridiculous. It was like, This is never gonna happen. What am I saying? Why am I so afraid of this? So the lesson that I learned from this is that when you say things out loud, whether it's to another person, or to the voice memo app on your phone, it's like your mind, and your body can finally connect to that feeling of safety. And this one simple exercise changed everything for me, I started being able, you know, this this story, it was that I was afraid to leave the house. And I was having panic attacks, and I couldn't get it to stop. And after I did this, after I told the story of my worst case scenario, I just had to laugh. And then I moved on. And it was like by saying it out loud. By becoming fully conscious of it. I was able to release it and move on. So I

highly recommend doing this practice. Anytime you're feeling the fear, especially if you're feeling like what if it doesn't work? What if I'm a failure? I mean, I work with people all the time who really want to launch a blog. And they'll come to me and they'll say, but Kate, what if it doesn't work? Well, okay, what if it doesn't work? What will you have lost? And honestly, the only thing that they can come up with is like, well, I will have lost the time that I put into it. And maybe I will have spent, you know, a couple $100 or maybe even a couple $1,000 with coaching and getting all the tech and site and tools and stuff set up. Okay? Would you lose your home? If you if you lost that money? would your life be significantly different? If you lost? Let's just call it $2,000? And if the answer is yes, then maybe that's not the right investment for you. Right. But most of the time, the answer is no. It's not a matter of life or death. And the worst case scenario is what will people think? And as we said before, the answer to that is probably nothing. Everyone's thinking about themselves. They don't have time to be thinking about you. But if we're going to go down the path of Yeah, what will people think I talked about this with Pat Flynn, I would much rather people think like, Wow, she really went for it. She tried things. She was fearless. She was brave. And she just experimented her way through life. And with this fun attitude of curiosity. I would much

rather people think that than like, man, she sat on the sidelines her whole life, she never went for it. She never tried anything. She just played it safe. And more importantly than what other people think is what will you think? What will you think of you look back on your life. And everything you dreamt of, is still sitting there as a dream, because you are too afraid of what if it doesn't work out? All right, I'm gonna sit with that for a second because that's some deep shit there. Now, this brings me to my third point, which is the price of the fear of failure. I don't want to spend too much time talking about the negative aspects of failure because I do want to give you plenty of tools to help you put a more positive spin on the whole thing. But I do think it's important to touch on the price we pay individually and as a society when the fear of failure stops us in our tracks. Now I'm going to reference another great TED talk here called Banishing The Fear of Failure. It's by Dr. Sandhya Shekhar I hope I'm saying that correctly. She says that failure is an epidemic in our society that has led to widespread anxiety, depression and suicide. It's also caused a measurable loss of potential and individuals who never fully stretch their wings. And this loss of collective intelligence affects us all on a global scale. Imagine If we could unleash all that untapped potential, I love this quote from Shanda who says, to "go after your goals as though your life depended on it." Because really, our lives do depend on it. I mean, think about your why the things that motivate you to do this in the first place, that really helps you to stay focused on what's waiting for you on the other side of that breakdown. And this is so important, because most people stop digging just a few feet from hitting solid gold, you've got to tap into what will make you keep digging, because it's gonna get hard. And if you are doing it for the money, it's not going to be enough to motivate you to keep going. One other thing that Shanda recommends is to write down the consequences of not fulfilling your dreams, because there is a cost to not doing what it takes to accomplish your goals. What happens to your kids, your spouse, your family, your potential clients, if you give up? This isn't just about you, you've got a legacy to build and you can't afford to let anything stop you. What will your kids think if they have a parent who never went for it, who never followed their dreams? What message is that sending to your kids about their own dreams? Think about all of the people out there that you could serve and help if you could get past the fear of failure. And what happens to them. If you never get past it. If you never launch your course, or your program or your blog or your business. And you you're you're not able to serve them what happens to those people? And what happens to the people who are watching you for inspiration just like your kids. I mean, we had Madison Surdyke on the podcast recently. And she and I were talking about, you know, it was a very humbling experience for me, because she was saying that, by watching me chase my dreams, it gave her permission to chase hers. And that there's this beautiful ripple effect that happens because then the people that are watching her get that same permission. I mean, it's basically like, when you see that now we have a woman of color as the Vice President of the United States. What does everybody say? Oh my gosh, now my daughter can look up and see that this is possible for her too. And this is true. Even if you're not the Vice President of the United States. This is true. Even if you are just a regular woman living a regular life, people are watching you, and you're sending them the message that they can't do it because you're not willing. So I hope you'll stop letting fear robbed the world of your gifts. Because when you can surrender to your mistakes and fumble your way towards your full potential, as Shanda says, "you can't win if you're focused on how to not."

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All right. Now for the power of failure. Let's get into the most exciting part of this episode. The power of failure. What does failure teach us? What do we actually gain from it? So I want to give you a few more famous examples because I know when I hear stories like this, it's such a good reminder to me that nobody started out as a success. Look at this, Walt Disney dropped out of school and was fired from a newspaper job for supposedly not being very creative. Fred Astaire didn't hit movie stardom until well into his 30s and after his first screen test and executive wrote down, and this is a quote: "Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little." That cracks me up. And of course, we've all heard the stories of how many times J.K. Rowling failed before she hit the jackpot of Harry Potter stardom. Here's a quote from J.K. that I love about her experience with failure. She says: "Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me, had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. But I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized. And I was still alive. And I still had a daughter whom I adored. And I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

If that doesn't give you chills, you might be dead inside. So the truth is, we've got so much to learn from failure. I love that James Wedmore actually says that failure is just information. It's just feedback. It's just lessons, right? So here's a few other things we get to learn from failure. When we try things out, we learn what we don't want, which brings what we do want very clearly into focus. What worked yesterday doesn't always work today, because we change over time. So trying new things allows us to bring us into alignment with where we're at in life right now. And when we fail, our brains actually grow. Like seriously, we don't map any neural pathways when things are easy. I actually, when I was when I was planning this episode, I was thinking about this time--so you might know that I used to be a food and travel writer. And I used to travel a lot to vineyards around the world. Very tough job. And one of the things that came up for me in a recent mastermind was talking with some women who were talking about how it's just so hard, and the struggle is real, right. And I was like, you know, the best wine comes from grapes that struggle. And it was just this like, epiphany moment for everybody where we went like, whoa, the most beautiful things are born out of out of struggle. And think about even like compost, you need a lot of dead shit to create life. So don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of the dead shit, right? Just think of it like the compost that your business needs in order to ultimately bring something to life. Mistakes teach us tenacity, which is absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs. And when we fail, we have to problem solve in order to fix things and get back on track, which sparks creativity. Another necessar. Failure teaches us to adapt to change. So I mentioned Madison's episode, it was Episode 33, by the way, where we talk about how one of the most valuable skills we can have is learning to trust our own intuition. And part of that process is to pay attention to how we feel in our bodies when we make a decision and follow it through. So decision making becomes less about right or wrong and more about self trust. When we fall and get back up, we learned that we can absolutely handle whatever life throws our way. That kind of self reliance is a muscle we can build over time, mistake by mistake until we discover absolute faith in our own selves until we actually try our ideas. We live in this theoretical world. But by surrendering to failure, we get answers to all those burning questions about which path should we follow. Our story of struggle is part of our story of success, and you can't have one without the other. So this reminds me of a quick story. I mentioned how in my second launch of the Six Figure Blog Academy, I lost $12,000. And this was a real low point in my career. I mean, it was one of the darkest months I can really ever remember in my life. And I seriously considered quitting and giving up and I don't know, just going and getting a regular job, a real job, maybe staying home with my kids for a little bit. I felt like I didn't have what it took. And it was embarrassing, and I was ashamed. And ultimately, thank God, I came out of that. And I kept moving. And I kept showing up. And now looking back on it, what happened next was I had to look at what failed, what broke down in order to fix it and come out of that place, right? And so I did so and then my next launch, which was just three months later made over $100,000 in two weeks. I had never made that kind of money in my entire life. I had barely made that kind of money in a whole year. And I did it in two weeks. And when I look back on it now I can very safely say that I never would have had that $100,000 launch if I didn't have a failed launch before it, because if I would have gone from launch one, where I made about $20,000, to launch two where, let's say I made the same amount even, I wouldn't have made those changes that led to the $100,000 launch, which then led to the next thing, I would have coasted, I wouldn't have tried to change things up and find new ways of doing things. Because what I was doing was good, you know, nothing to be ashamed of, but not a whole lot to write home about either. And so it just became so clear to me that wow, I really had to fail spectacularly in order to succeed spectacularly. And this realization brings me to the final point here, which is getting comfortable with failure. After that experience, you know, I'm a perfectionist, I can't say that I'm totally in love with failing, obviously, failure still sucks, it still hurts and feels bad. But I think we can get more comfortable with failure. And step one is to simply give yourself permission to make mistakes. So remember, that goal to fail 21 times in 2021, just by setting that goal, which was inspired by Shanda's goal, I mean, she gave herself permission to experiment to take risks. And by doing so she unlocked huge growth for herself and for her business. That's what I want to do as well. I think if I continue trying to just make everything so perfect, I'm not going to take those risks, I'm not going to experiment, because it's going to feel too scary, I'm going to stick to the status quo. And I love the expression of like, What got you here isn't what's going to get you there. So I try to remember that. And while I'm at it, I try to give others permission to fail to. So this is so important in marriage, of course, in friendships in any relationships. But as an entrepreneur, it's really important when you're growing a team. If you won't accept anything less than perfection from others, it's like you're locking up their potential, and that potential could have a profoundly positive effect on you and your business. So I actually after that same mastermind, where I had the best wine comes from vines that struggle, I decided to change one of my core values. And I want to read it here because I think it's really important. And the core value that my company now has is we make mistakes, we believe the fastest path to success is failure. Imperfect action is needed to grow and learn and evolve. Mistakes are the compost that our business needs to thrive. Mistakes are expected, encouraged and celebrated. Because it means we are one step closer to who we are meant to be. And we take radical responsibility and complete ownership when we fuck up. We are not afraid to apologize and admit when we were wrong. And I think that just by sharing this with the team and talking more about failure and giving everybody permission to like, hey, it's okay, if you screw up. It means we're trying something. So let's do that I would much rather try and not succeed than to never try. Because guess what, if you never try, you're guaranteed to never succeed. The next step to getting comfortable with failure is to reframe your definition of failure.

So there's an entrepreneur named Will Roundtree, who was told from an early age that he'd never amount to anything. But he redefined that message by accepting that failure is not avoidable. Even if we stick to the safest path possible, we are going to fail at some point. But your mindset shifts when you realize that failure isn't an event. It's not something that happens. It's a process. And all of those failures, all of those mistakes are almost always fixable. So instead of being so hard on ourselves and others when we fall down, what if we tried to treat ourselves with grace and compassion so that we're able to get back on our feet stronger than we were before? Which leads me to step number three, embrace the invitation to reinvent yourself. Do you all ever do words of the year, I've started doing this over the last few years, and this year 2021, it became clear in the fall of 2020, that my word was going to be rebirth. Now, there's a lot of explanations for this, but I'll give you a couple that are the most obvious. The first one is well 2020 happened. And I think we all learned that we had to just surrender to what we could not control and hope that we could bounce back stronger. There's that resilience piece that I touched on earlier. And when things start opening up again, when Things start returning to some new version of normal. There is a rebirth that is going to happen. It's been happening, right? So I think this could be a beautiful opportunity for us all to think about what we want our new normal to look like. What are the things we don't want to go back to from our old normal? What are the things that we've learned during this time, this rebirth, this process of reinventing ourselves is definitely a theme for all of us. And then I also have another reason for the theme because I gave birth to my second child this past year. My daughter, Gemma was born in May 2020. And I was reminded after her birth of something that came up after the birth of my son, which was when you give birth, you're not just bringing a new life into the world, there's also this rebirth of you as a mother. And I don't think you have to be, you know, a childbearing woman. In order to experience this, I think we all have plenty of opportunities in our life to reinvent ourselves. And so that's what I want to invite you to do is to reinvent yourself, it's to reinvent your new normal, what if the, if the brain does everything it can to keep me safe in the status quo? What happens if we create a new status quo? I think it turns out that when you adopt the identity of a person who's already accomplished the big goals you're currently afraid to go after, then your brain will literally drive your decision making and behavior to maintain that new improved status quo, you create it, your brain doesn't know that the successful fearless version of you is just a figment of your imagination. Instead of holding you back the same mechanisms in your brain that exists solely to keep you safe, they can actually propel you forward towards everything you desire, which is pretty cool, right?

Alright, step number four, practice outcome independence. This is so so cool. I love this so much. So outcome independence is when you stay focused on the task, conversation or relationship without worrying about what the result is going to be. So it's a term often used by marketing pros and online business owners. And they use this mindset shift to stay focused on serving their prospective clients, instead of thinking only about making a sale. So outcome, independence means you can focus on that new thing you're trying without worrying about what might happen. It means you can remove judgment, get rid of blame and guilt and shame as consequences of your actions. And when you do that, you can then focus on solutions and actually enjoy the experience of experimentation. You keep all of your power focused on the here and now. Now, this reminds me of a conversation that I had with Madison again, she asked the best questions. And one of the things that she taught me last year during those dark moments of my life that I shared earlier, was learning how to remove meaning from the outcome. And I think this is basically the same thing, right? Where, what we'll tell ourselves is, if my blog fails, if my course launch flops, what does it mean about me? And that's what we're all always thinking is that these outcomes mean something about us? But what if it didn't mean anything about you? What if you are not your mistakes? What if you are not even your business? I hope you truly take this to heart because I do feel like it's so important to realize that mistakes are just simply things that happen. They don't define who you are in your soul. There's simply part of a process that leads to an outcome. And we have little or really no control over most of the variables. I mean, if 2020 taught us anything, it's that we have no control, right? There was this real feeling of powerlessness that I think a lot of us, myself very much included, have been struggling with. But the failure of an outcome can't be synonymous with your failure. See, we believe we're at the center of it all controlling all the variables around us. But the reality is, we have very little control over most of the variables half the time we don't even know that these variables exist. And by the way, speaking of outcome, it's okay to set goals but not reach them. If you do reach them. By all means celebrate dance in the streets, pop the champagne, shout it from the social media rooftops, but don't be so attached to the goal that you forget to celebrate the journey. Because I think this is the thing is that we all forget that there is no end point. I mean to be totally morbid. The end point is death. If we don't enjoy the journey, then we're not going to enjoy any of the life. Right? When you realize that there's no end point, there's no one moment in time where you'll think I've made it or, and now I'm done and I'll be happy forever. I mean, it's always why, like at the end of a movie, you know, oh, and they all lived happily ever after. But then the sequel comes out and they're right back to the same shit over again, all over again, right? There is no end point, there is that no one moment in time where we will be done. You might reach your goal. And then when you reach your goal, what happens you set a new goal, you set a bigger goal, there is no endpoint.

Step number five, stay optimistic. So environmental engineer Katie Patrick, who's on a mission to save our planet through her expertise on behavior change techniques, says that optimism is essential to our ability to problem solve and creativity. She believes an optimism so much that she says it will save the world. It's all in the way our brain chemistry works. So optimism releases dopamine, the happiness chemical, it's also responsible for motivation and complex problem solving. But fear, doom, helplessness, on the other hand, these activate the amygdala, which releases chemicals that shut down the prefrontal cortex. And when this happens, we lose a whopping 30% of our cerebral brain function. And what happens to creativity, it gets switched right off. So if you followed any of that, I know it was a little, a lot of doctor terms. But Katie says that the functioning in this state is like looking out at the world through a tiny pinhole. So when you start to feel your optimism, slide, go back, listen to this podcast again. And if that still doesn't work, maybe it's a sign that what you actually need is rest. Sometimes all that's needed is a little radical self care to light us up again.

Step six, focus on what you can control, which is ultimately only you. So here's where mindset really saves the day. Whenever you feel defeated, you can shift your focus to the step that you're in. Pay attention to your energy levels and your attitude. Do you feel resistance, or surrender, and regroup, try that big driving force behind everything you're trying to achieve? In the midst of whatever uncertainty you feel it helps to ground yourself and the things you can control. And listen, failure is the guardian at the gate to success. You don't get to reach the castle without fighting the dragon first, behind every epic success story, or a lot of epic trips and falls. But failure calls you to be brave, to get messy. Bravery means doing things, even though we're afraid. And the good thing is you can get better at it. So let me put it this way to close this out here. If you never start, your chance of success is zero. I tell my students this all the time. Even that very first step vastly increases your chance of reaching your dreams: buy the domain name. That's the first step. If you never do that, you're certainly never going to create online business success. If you feel paralyzed by fear. Just think about me and my anxiety exercise. Ask yourself, what is the worst case scenario here? What is the worst that could happen? And then on the flip side, ask yourself what's the best case scenario here and play the risk reward game, which one is a more realistic and B sounds like more like something you'd like to see happen. You can even record your thoughts and play them back, like I suggested. And once you realize that the worst case scenario isn't the end of the world, you can jump in and try that new thing. And by the way, it's okay to cry when you make that nasty fall because we're human, and these things hurt. But once you're done, wipe those tears and get back up. You've got dreams to fulfill and a legacy to build And ain't nobody got time to play small.

Just don't forget to tend to your central nervous system along the way. And this is where I'm going to come back to the whole like it's I'm not just trying to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway. And just power through. There is a lot of trauma that we are all dealing with must be processed out of the body. And so tending to your central nervous system is paramount in being able to actually feel the fear and do it anyway. So shake it out, dance it out, get moving, get resting, go to therapy, talk it out. There's a lot of ways that you can care for yourself and get this fear removed from your body. Make sure you're taking care of your central nervous system.

And to close out this episode. I want to leave you with some juicy books that dive deeper into everything we've talked about today. You know, I always ask my show guests to share one or two of the most powerful business or mindset books I've ever read. So today I've got a few recommendations of my own, that I wanted to share. One of the best books I've ever read on this subject are is called The Gifts of Imperfection by the one and only Brené Brown. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it and also her other books the power of vulnerability and daring greatly. Grit, by Angela Duckworth is another favorite as is Becoming by, another one and only, Michelle Obama. The power of Failure: 27 Ways To Turn Life's Setbacks Into Success is another winner, as is The Responsibility Ethic by Adam Kreek.

I hope you found some golden nuggets in this episode that have inspired you to approach this brand new year with a mindset that's primed for your best year ever. Here's my New Year's wish for you, expressed in the words of Michelle Obama. "Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage you or exhaust you let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed." Now, that would have been a really elegant way to end this episode. But I also just finished watching Ted Lasso. And he had a quote recently that really struck a chord with me and I feel like that might be a little more aligned with my personality to end on that note. So the quote is: "You may not have won, but you certainly succeeded."

Thanks for listening to the Success with Soul Podcast, the place to be for holistic online business strategies and achieving more with less, as this show is a brand spankin new any and all support is greatly appreciated. So if you haven't done so already, please subscribe on the apple podcast app, Google podcast, app, Spotify or wherever you listen. This makes it possible for me to continue to provide free helpful content and bring you amazing guests. You can also give us a rating and review with your honest feedback so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Your reviews are super helpful and motivating to me personally. But beyond that reviews help with rankings, which helps others find the show and allows me to keep providing you with free content every single week. Share the podcast with your friends, family, coworkers, dogs, cats, neighbors, whoever. And don't forget to join the free Success with Soul Facebook community at We have follow up conversations about the podcast episodes and I often go live to answer your burning questions. Plus, you'll get to hang out with like minded bloggers and heart centered online business owners exchanging priceless feedback, encouragement and other golden insight from the trenches. That's Until next time, remember to celebrate your progress, not perfection.

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  1. CN says

    Your Q&A podcast was great! Appreciated all the in depth information and examples. Look forward to the next Q&A podcast. Thank you 🙂

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