Failure is a normal part of being a human,
But in our perfectionist, success driven culture failure is the ultimate evidence that we don’t have what it takes.
In today’s episode I’m showing you how redefining failure for yourself can lead to feeling much more confident and motivated to try things you’ve previously avoided.
Opening up to failure is the path to getting what you want.
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Music by ZingDog on Pond5
Hey, what’s up? How are you doing out there? I am really, really excited for today’s topic. As always, I think there’s just so many fun things.
I was just talking to a friend who has a podcast who said, where do I get ideas? And I thought, I am so lucky. There’s just so many things we get to talk about here that I haven’t run out of ideas yet, but if you have any, you’re welcome to always DM me on Instagram. And let me know what you need a podcast about.
What is your struggle? What are your wins? You know, what do you wanna talk about? Because I don’t want this to always be about struggles. I want it to be about all the things in life after loss. If you’re new here, I’m Amy Watson. I am a life and grief coach for baby loss mom. So if you’ve experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or any kind of loss, In between that maybe doesn’t get as much attention.
You are welcome here. I want all people to feel like they have a place to learn the skills they need to live an amazing life after loss and really find themselves. Because what happens after loss is you kind of feel broken and you don’t know how to put yourself back together, and you don’t need to feel like that.
You can find relief, you can find purpose. In your life after loss, and I’m so excited to help you get Y there. Today’s the topic is a good one that I think we always need a reminder about. Almost all of us grew up with a message that failing equals bad. Even as babies, we were expected to eat well sleep through the night, not cry too much, not scream in the car.
Hit all the milestones and be exactly on our growth charts, then we are not supposed to touch dangerous things, spill or repeat bad words we might hear. Of course, in school we know that a’s are acceptable and anything else is not. We tell children they need to quote unquote, try their best, but what we really want is perfect performance, and this expectation of no failure is exhausting for the children.
And the parents, and I’m guessing that you can understand this from both ends, uh, of the spectrum, even if you don’t have a living child yet, this message is everywhere. That failure is bad, and we should avoid it at all costs. Many people constantly feel like they’re not measuring up, and it leads to a lot of like depression, anxiety, procrastination, you name it.
It’s rough when you are really afraid of failure. Now, these things are actually symptoms of perfectionism. We think that perfectionism is the type A person who has it all together, like with their Pinterest life, and it can be, but more often than not, perfectionism shows up as being afraid to do anything and feeling overwhelmed with life.
In grief, the fear of failure also leads to a whole bunch of judgment and dread judgment of how you’re grieving and dread of not being able to control your life or your emotions. So instead of doing what you want and taking care of you, you spend a lot of time worrying about other people’s feelings and avoiding all the things cuz you don’t think you can handle it and you can see yourself doing this right?
Sometimes we don’t notice, but a lot of times we will notice. You can see yourself doing it, but you don’t know why you’re doing it and you don’t know how to get out of the loop. That’s why redefining failure is so important. Today, I’m gonna give you three simple reframes to try out because if you are just starting your journey to being a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, it’s important to give yourself goals you can achieve and start building evidence that you can change and feel better.
But even though these tips are simple, they pack a punch. So get ready. I work with my clients on overcoming these past tendencies and then sticking with them when their brains start freaking out. If you’re loving these tips, but you wanna take it to the next level, come and talk to me. There is a link in the show notes to sign up for a consult call.
Then you can make a permanent change and stop fearing failure. I know because I’ve done it myself and I’ve seen so many of my clients do it. So with each tip, I’m gonna give you a personal example, and I want you to be thinking of examples in your own life where you’ve already done this, you just didn’t notice.
Use that as a springboard to launch yourself into the next step. The first one is, failure is the way we grow and learn. And I wanted to tell you about, Coach training. Now I went to the Life Coach school, which is a very rigorous coach training. I had six months of the certification Pro process, and then six more months of specialized training after that.
And a lot of the training was basically beating the fear of failure out of us. So what they would do is they would teach us a concept and we would talk about it with our teacher, and then we would be put in the hot seat and we’d have to demonstrate. We would have to, we’re in on camera in small groups, learning how to coach, learning what questions to ask, learning how to listen, how to hold space, all of the things that you need to do to be a great coach.
And you had to do it in front of everyone, and I know that they do that on purpose because it is so hard, right? Most of us do not wanna fail, but we especially don’t wanna fail in front of anybody. And especially people we respect and our peers and our leaders. But this is what we did. And you know what?
It is the only way and it’s one of the best ways you learn so much when you just do it and you know, and they would remind us over and over, you’re gonna be terrible at first. You have to just be terrible. And remember, this is the part where you’re terrible at coaching. And you just keep on going, keep on going, keep adding skills, keep practicing, keep feeling sick to your stomach and doing it anyway.
That is how we grow and learn. We have to do it poorly at first. So I want you to think what is something that you learn from failing? Now, I’m not saying that it’s fun, I’m just saying that this is the way. A lot of times we use the example of babies walking, right where they walk and fall. They try to get up, they fall, they do all these things and fall, and the getting up and the falling down and the using their leg muscles is how they learn to walk.
That is what we want to do as adults, but we’ve been kind of programmed to not do that, to not fail, and especially not to fail in public. It’s scary. Yes. It is scary, but this is the way we grow and learn. All right, tip number two. Success is built on a pile of failures. Now, again, for a lot of us, whether we’ve identified it or not, that we’re perfectionists or people blazers, this is scary too, right?
It’s like I don’t want a bunch of failures. I just want to get what I want. I want the easy, smooth path. That would be much better. And please, universe, could you just give that to me? But that’s just not the way the world works. And the sooner you reframe this and stop expecting it to be easy, the faster you’re gonna get what you want.
I really want you to think about this. Are you willing to build up a pile of failures in order to get what you want? A lot of times we see these overnight successes and you do not see that they’ve spent 10 years. You know, I think about some of the American Idol contestants who have won and they spent a decade in dive bars like singing for nobody and making no money and wanting to quit, and then they get this opportunity and everyone’s like, oh, you just came outta nowhere.
And it’s like, no, they didn’t. They have been practicing. They’ve done voice lessons. They’ve gone through changes in their band. They’ve, they’ve been living outta their van. All of those things created the circumstance that gave them the shot at the success they wanted. It’s always built on a pile of failures.
You just might not see it, and a lot of us are really good at hiding those things right. When you see that cute family at church that’s got it all put together and you don’t see the chaos that was happening like at home in the morning, just know that anybody out there that’s successful, they have failed so many times and they have struggled.
Absolutely. My personal example for this is calling hospitals, so I used to. Well, I still do volunteer with a, uh, charity called Teeny Tears, and they are amazing. They make little tiny flannel diapers and hats and blankets and all sorts of things to donate to hospitals and in their quest to get these little diapers into as many hospitals as possible.
I was asked to call some hospitals and reach out and say, do you want these free, amazing diapers and how many can we send you? And like, how many losses do you have? And I remember when I was asked to do that, I thought, well, this is a nightmare and I don’t wanna do that. Like that is really scary. Even though I felt so strongly about getting these diapers everywhere.
And so I would like legitimately pray, take deep breaths, like psych myself up to make these phone calls and. It was so scary and I would get off and I would feel almost emotionally drained. And maybe for you guys, this is kind of funny, but like I’m a pretty outgoing person, but I don’t know why making these cold calls to hospitals and trying to find the right person to say that we could send them baby diapers.
I mean, it was nerve wracking. But you know what? I did so many for so long. I mean, I did that probably for years, probably called hundreds and hundreds of hospitals. I. Just saying, Hey, we have this beautiful thing to give to you and your families who are experiencing loss. And you know what? I, at the beginning was so nervous, I probably forgot.
I would just forget to ask certain information. I would write down their email address wrong. I would all these things, it would take me so much time and effort. But after I did it, a lot of times I got really, really good at it. And I knew how to get to the right person. I knew how to have them say, yes, please send those to us.
I knew how to get all the information I needed to make it easy to send them. I mean, it was so good. And the real success though, is that I got so much more confident. And that’s the other benefit of failure, is you learn that you can do it and it’s not gonna kill you. And so you keep on going. My third tip is you can change the way you define failure, and I wanna talk about this in the way that Brene Brown does.
I think most of us have heard Brene Brown’s quote where she talks about when you are in the ring, you are getting battered and bloody, and you’re down there and there’s all these people looking at you and maybe yelling at you, criticizing you. They’re not in the ring, right? We want to be in the ring and when we’re in the ring, we’re gonna get hurt, we’re gonna get beaten, we’re gonna mess up.
We’re gonna have, you know, all these eyes staring at us. But shame is really what Brene talks about, that something that keeps us out. Like we don’t wanna be seen as a failure. We don’t wanna say the wrong thing, we don’t wanna do the wrong thing. We don’t wanna have something backfire. We just want to come out there and be perfect, right?
And never fail. But here’s what I want you to know. Failure only happens if you quit. And I’m gonna say that one more time. Failure only happens if you quit. Now you can decide on purpose to stop searching for something. I think a really easy example of this is having another baby. I mean, It’s okay to stop trying to have a baby and start finding other ways to fulfill the needs in your life.
But anything that you want, as long as you’re still working towards it, you are going to get it like you’re winning. I was thinking of an example of this and I thought about raising your hand in class. How many of us were that kid who loved to answer all the questions because you knew you knew it?
That’s kind of easy when you know that you have the right answer. It’s easy to believe in yourself. It’s easy to speak up, but when you’re struggling, you’re not gonna wanna raise your hand. But you know what, if you do it anyways, knowing you might be wrong, you are going to learn. You are gonna become less afraid of raising your hand and being wrong, even if people laugh at you, even if the teacher says something.
You gotta just stay in there because that means you’re engaged. That means you’re working towards your goal of learning. The only way you fail is if you sit back in the back corner and you’re just like doodling on your paper and you’re totally checked out. You’ve given up. The goal here really is who you are becoming.
It’s not always winning because winning requires no growth. It really doesn’t, and failure doesn’t mean anything about you. I think this is another thing that’s really important when we talk about failure. We make it mean things. We make it mean that we’re not enough, but you are enough. You’re totally enough.
It’s supposed to be messy. You’re not supposed to always win. You’re, you’re gonna mess up. It doesn’t mean anything about you except that you’re a human living, a human life with a human brain. Life doesn’t always go as planned. Don’t make it mean anything about you. I wanna give you a little bonus tip, which is so powerful, and that is that C minus work gets the job done.
Motivation is really stunted when you want to always get A’s and wins. It’s easy to procrastinate and stay stuck, right? If you’re only aiming for the top and you. You’re not getting it. You’re gonna quit. You’re gonna procrastinate. You’re not gonna try. But aiming for C minus takes away that fear of failure.
And lots of people think that if you aim low, you’ll hit low. And that’s a bad thing maybe. But you’re hitting the target, right? You’re in the game, you’re in the ring, and you’re gonna get better and more confident as you continue, and that builds momentum. It’s really about managing your expectations. Of course, when you start playing darts, you’ll rarely hit a bullseye that’s expected, but you know that if you keep doing it, eventually you’ll improve.
If you expect to hit a bullseye the first time out and you don’t, then you’re gonna wanna quit. You’re gonna blame the darts or your friends that distracted you. You’re gonna sulk or make excuses for the rest of the night. You don’t tolerate the failure well and you suffer, and I want you to think of a place in your life that you’re doing this or even think of someone else you’ve seen doing this.
Again, not with any judgment only love, but observing other people is sometimes easier than observing yourself. So say, who do I know that just will not try is paralyzed? Or who tried once and stopped? That’s because that’s what we’ve been trained to do, and you have to overcome that training. You have to learn to tolerate failure.
I think our society right now is really not helpful at bringing up people who know how to fail, which ultimately always leads to success. You want to have failure tolerance, which means you can handle it. So what I’m saying here in this example about throwing darts is choose to feel the negative feelings of failing instead of the negative feelings of being stuck, afraid to start or giving up too soon.
I want you to think about a hike. I love nature. I love getting out. I used to hike a lot when I was younger. Um, I haven’t a lot lately. But I was picking out the artwork for this podcast, and it might not show on your podcast player, but I always post on Instagram a little picture with the podcast cover, and I chose a mountain pitcher where she is.
There’s a lady standing on the top of a mountain, and I think always these analogies of climbing a mountain are so, so good, and that’s why so many people use them, but you might. Go on a hike and feel like you failed because you got lost. You forgot to bring water. You took way longer than you thought, or you hurt yourself.
You twist your ankle and you wanted to quit so many times, but you got to the the top. Now, when you get to the top, you can choose to focus on all the things you think went wrong or you can enjoy the view and be proud of you for persevering. And just know that hiking is all of those things. It’s supposed to be that way, and that’s why I chose this woman who is really proud of herself and we can’t see how hard it was to get to the top of that mountain.
We don’t know what she went through. We might be like, oh, she is so much better than me cuz look at her on the top of the mountain. So excited. But it’s much more satisfying when you know that it was hard and you did it anyways. Just like being a bereaved mother is supposed to be challenging, and being a human is challenging, but you aren’t failing.
You’re learning, you’re living, and you’re doing it. That’s how you redefine failure. Friends, stop being afraid of emotions. Stop telling yourself you’re doing it wrong, and stop projecting out into the future these terrible catastrophes of what’s gonna happen. I want you to lean into the process and learn how to feel all the feelings that come with stretching yourself and know that they are good.
All emotions are for us, and they can’t hurt us. They are harmless. They are just vibrations in our body. Failing is good. Also, failing is impossible. Ask your brain how that can be true and see what happens. It’s fun to just play with it. Look at the things you wanna do and ask yourself, if I wasn’t afraid of failing, what would I go for?
If I knew success was inevitable and built on a pile of failures, what goals would I set? Come on over to Instagram this week and let’s talk about it. If you already know a goal you wanna accomplish, that will help you be more you on your journey to find yourself after loss, come get coaching on it. You are incredible and you can get what you want, but it’s a lot easier and faster when I am there to help you.
I understand how grief affects this process, and I know how to work around any roadblocks that might come up on your way. Just expect them. Let’s redefine failure and let’s get out there and build that pile of failures. Let’s do C minus work and just see what changes. I’m so excited for you and I’ll see you next time.