Celebrate every step along the way. I know I have mentioned this before but I can guarantee you that the more you celebrate your successes along the way, the more successful you will be. It’s a snow ball effect. Some would call it the law of attraction. If you feel successful you are likely to take more risks which in turn increases your chances of success. It’s a virtuous circle. No one accomplishes their dreams by playing safe. Celebrate taking risks before you even know how it is going to turn out. Celebrate that you have courage. Celebrate that you have the confidence to do something you are not sure you can do and surround yourself with people who celebrate you.
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ange de Lumiere.
Ange de Lumiere is an online business mentor who helps brilliant entrepreneurs create success on their terms by leveraging the power of their intuition to make smart decisions. After a successful fifteen year career as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, Ange went on to what she likes to call her PhD in Intuition from the University of Life, exploring various healing and psychic modalities for over fifteen years. She is on a mission to put intuition on the school curriculum all the way from primary school to Universities, starting with business schools.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I was born in Paris to an eye surgeon and a nurse. When I was nine, my parents sent me to Spain for a month and I caught the traveling bug. Although I was a math head, I chose to study law when I finished school as it seemed a reasonable career that matched my skill set. I never considered myself intuitive yet my life has been peppered with powerful intuitive experiences. The most extraordinary one being avoiding a bomb attempt in Paris in September 1986, on my way back from an internship as a law student. I had no framework to understand or use my intuition though, so I ignored it until 2017, when finally I decided to invest over £7,000 in it in the context of my business. After hesitating to come out as a business psychic, I finally offered business akashic records sessions for the first time in the summer 2018. In 2021, I launched a podcast called the Intuitive Revolution in Business and a book by the same title.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
For the first ten years in business, I believed that coming out as a psychic would tarnish my reputation as a professional, so I practiced as a clinical hypnotherapist by day and did tarot readings by night and on weekends. This was very damaging to my business because people could feel that I was hiding something, even though they could not put their finger on it. Everyone is intuitive so that’s how they knew. It is only when I stopped hiding that my business started to take off. I believed that people would vanish from my business if they learnt that I was psychic. The opposite happened. I started attracting people who were fascinated by the fact that I was both a lawyer and a psychic. So my take away is own every aspect of you. And work on your mindset to be brave enough not to hide parts of you. Once you own all of yourself, you will find a golden thread that will make sense of everything you experienced in life. Remember Steve Jobs followed his heart by taking calligraphy classes and it is only when he created the Apple computer that his love of calligraphy made sense. Had he questioned why he took calligraphy classes, our modern day computers might not be so aesthetic.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Honesty has to be the top character trait I have. If I don’t know something or don’t understand something, I say it upright. There are a lot of times when working with a client that I have no idea why I say what I say. What matters is that it makes sense to my client. Once, for example, I had a client who came to me for a tarot reading. That was before I decided to work only with businesses and entrepreneurs. She was stunningly beautiful. And yet, my cards spoke of self loathing. That simply did not make sense. How could a woman so beautiful hate herself so much. I had no idea. I told her what I saw in the cards, and she confirmed that it was exactly how she felt. The session then went on to how she could feel better about herself.
Tenacity is the next character trait that has served me well in my business. Like most entrepreneurs, I have faced my share of failures, but even though I was tempted to make it mean that I was a failure, I resisted that temptation and learnt the lesson from it. There was a point in my business where I was offering too many things. I had started off as a clinical hypnotherapist with a specialism in slimming and had even written a book that signed me an agent. I was also supporting people with their mindest, their money blocks and healing. I just didn’t seem to find a golden thread that pulled all these aspects together, so I was confusing my audience by talking about all of them in turn. At one point, this led to me doing a launch that led to zero sales. I pulled back, regrouped and was shown that all of these aspects needed to be weaved into a framework that I now call my EPIC framework. A framework that rested on four pillars: Energy, Prosperity, Intuition and what I call the Triple C: Clarity, Courage and Confidence.
Passion would have to be the third. As an autistic entrepreneur, I have what we call “Special interests”. Intuition has always been one of them, together with past lives. These are topics that I could talk about endlessly. I know the difference that intuition can make in all aspects of our lives: health, parenting, relationships, money management, career, business. There is not one area that could not benefit from us using our intuition in combination with our intellect, to be better at what we do. Intuition served me superbly in my role as a mother, before I would admit to it in other areas. This has enabled me to get my first child diagnosed for autism when all the professionals around me were clueless as to what was different about him.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
We are trained to be afraid of failure from the moment we leave primary school. When we reach out teens, we are asked by our parents and teachers what we want to do as a career. And, at least in Europe, we are led to believe that we need to do that very early on into our education.
In our grand parents’ time, there was more stability in the employment markets. If you chose a career, you would be assured to get a job and follow that career until you retired. Everything changed in the 70s with the rise of unemployment rates. Suddenly, it was no longer enough to be qualified and willing in order to be employed. By the 90s, it was understood that higher education no longer meant employability and I believe that this increased the levels of anxiety around failure. Combine this with 24/7 news that started in the 80s, which, as we know, focus on the negative news, and you have the perfect terrain for rampant fear. The levels of fear in the collective have reached unprecedented levels especially since the Pandemic, the Ukraine war and now the looming recession. The VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) element of the economy has reached new levels. People want to have a level of certainty that they can no longer experience. Fear is like ink that spills in all areas of our lives. We start to believe that the only antidote to this uncertainty is succeeding in everything we do. Fear of failure becomes the thing we struggle with the most. This all compounds the belief that the world is not a safe place and there is no room for failure if we want to survive. The way our mind works compounds this tendency to worry as it is designed to keep us safe by having a natural aversion to risk.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Fear of failure has no upsides. The first impact fear of failure has on us is to keep us in our reptile brain, the amygdala. This part of the brain is stuck in “problem mode”and is incapable of finding solutions. Our fear of failure also affects our health, as all fears and worries do. The amygdala, our fear centre, governs our heart rate, our digestion, our sleep, our fertility and our metabolism, amongst others. The more fear we experience, the more these vital functions are affected. And the longer we live in that fight or flight mode, the more our health is likely to be impacted because our bodies are flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, which are corrosive. These hormones are meant to flood our bodies temporarily, not permanently. It impacts our intelligence too. When we are riddled by fear, it stops us from using our intellect. And of course, fear often comes out as anger. When we are angry, we can be particularly stupid. Our capacity to see the bigger picture is diminished. And it becomes a vicious circle.
The way fear of failure limits us is by discouraging us from taking risks. Without taking risks, though, we deprive ourselves from embracing opportunities. Avoiding risk does not even work most of the time, but it can actually cripple our success. So the very fear of failing can clip our success. By staying in the same job, for example, because changing jobs might mean us losing benefits that we have acquired through having been there for a long time, we fool ourselves in thinking that we are safer. That is not the case. We might end up losing our jobs anyway because our employer might decide to restructure. Ultimately, life is about change. Our capacity to adapt to change and to take risk is paramount to our success.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
When we release our fear of failure, we open up avenues that weren’t available to use before. It’s as the quote by Erin Hanson goes “What if I fail? But my darling what if you fly?” Without going past our fear of failure, we will not fly. We will never reach our full potential.
We need to understand, however, that the fear of failure will always be there. No one is fearless, unless they are psychopaths. And who wants to be a psychopath? So the issue becomes not so much how to become free of the fear of failure but to understand that fear is normal, but that it should not be the driving force behind our decisions. We need to make friends with our fear. We need to understand that it is here to keep us safe. If our ancestors had not been afraid of dangerous beasts, they would have been eaten alive and it would have been the end of our species. So fear is good. It did not, however, stop our ancestors from coming out of their caves to find food. They just did so with the understanding of the risks, and managing those risks, by, for example, hunting in groups and leaving the most vulnerable members of the community behind, i.e. women and children. We need to do the same with our fears. Mastering our fears is understanding what is real and what is not and training our mind to understand the difference. In truth, our amydgala is incapable of knowing the difference between real danger and imagined danger. So becoming free from most of our fear of failure, lies in the art of identifying the real danger of failure. And the only real danger of failure is not learning from our mistakes.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
In 2012, I signed an agent for my book, the Journey of the Slim Soul, that I wrote and self published in 2009. I was a clinical hypnotherapist then and this book fit perfectly with my business model of the time. My agent was in discussion with Hachette for a book deal. Hachette requested that I produce a second edition. Due to the fact that I had not been able to lose the weight after my fourth pregnancy a year before, I was not able to write that second edition as I felt like a fraud. I sabotaged the deal. My agent and I decided to part ways. This felt like a huge failure to me.
Instead of looking at the publishing of my first book in English, a language that is not my native language, and getting an agent, as incredible feasts, I looked at what I had not achieved, that is becoming a best selling author, and felt great shame.
My biggest mistake was not to set incremental goals on my journey of becoming an author. Had I done so, I would have been able to feel successful each time I reached them, such as for example, completing the first draft, completing the second draft, having a beautiful cover designed, then managing to publish the book within eight weeks of starting it. Instead, I allowed the goal post to constantly move. I never stopped and celebrated every step along the way. And I beat myself up for not attaining an unrealistic goal.
The second big mistake I made was to set unrealistic goals which actually made failure inevitable. And yet, I did not stop to see what I had done and instead used this to compound my sense of failure.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
I continued to write books after that because I am an author. I have stories in me that need to be told. And I think it’s essential to continue to do what you do, whilst learning the lessons from the experience.
As mentioned above, I learnt two invaluable lessons. One, is to set realistic goals and this can only be done if you surround yourself with people who have been there before you. The second is to break those goals into milestones and celebrate each one along the way. Looking back, I would recommend to hire a coach or mentor that has experienced in that field to support you. It is a known fact that you succeed much faster in business, for example, if you have a business coach. Going solo can get you to the same place but the learning curve is much slower. Had I hired a coach, they would have made sure I understood what it took to be a best selling author and I would have had a strategy to get there instead of expecting the publisher to make me a best selling author, if that makes sense.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Define your version of success in measurable terms. You cannot explore the fear of failure if you don’t know what your definition of success is right now. Everyone’s version of success is different. And this is what I do with my clients. Your version of success should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Saying that you want to have a best selling book is not a SMART definition of success. You should determine what the book is going to be about. Is it going to be a business book or a novel. The two are radically different and can command a completely different publishing route. If you still want a best selling book, define what best selling will be for you. Is it that it will reach the top of its category on the day you launch? Do you want it to be listed on the NY best sellers? The two are radically different and invite different strategies.
- Hire someone who has reached the success that you want to achieve. We can all DIY. Almost everything that has ever been achieved is now available as a YouTube tutorial. This is the benefit of the times we live in. However, even though it might, if you go the Do-It-Yourself route, you are likely to take a lot longer. I am not saying that it would be wrong for you to go the YouTube route. It is a very valid route for a lot of people. I just want you to look long and hard at your resources. Do you value your time? Usually people who go the YouTube route have time but not so much money. Or maybe they don’t see the value in investing money in a mentor or coach. If someone can get you faster and can guarantee you results (you will still have to do the work but at least you won’t have to throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it works), is it worth the investment? I think it is provided you invest in the right mentor, because if you DIY and you fail, then you will be compounding your fear of failure.
I am currently mentoring a very successful female entrepreneur to write her business book. A month ago, she reached out in panic to say that someone had written the book that she had intended to write. For her, it was the end. She was too late. Because I had more experience than her about the publishing process, I was able to show her two things. One, was that it was actually a good thing that someone had already published a book on the topic, because it showed that there was a market. People often buy several books on the same. You should see my collection of books on the art of writing. Two, was that the book that had just been published was written by someone very different to her and that she had a lot to say with her own fresh voice on the topic. Her book was going to add to the discussion. Had she had not hired me, she might have given up on writing her book at that point, which would have been a shame.
- Accept that failure is a necessary part of the journey and reframe it as a stepping stone. Althought this seems counterintuitive, knowing that success is not necessarily going to happen when you first try is actually really helpful. Understanding that this is not a reason not to try is the other half of the battle. It is useful to see not succeeding at the first attempt as a stepping stone instead of as a failure. Let’s continue with the book writing example. When you write your first draft, the tricky part is to establish a routine. When you first start, you have the enthusiasm of the beginner. Maybe half way through the book, your limiting beliefs pop up and create an obstacle which means you stop your writing routine. Getting started the second time around can be more difficult because you now feel like a failure. But you can benefit from knowing how to establish new habits and not give up after falling off that routine the first time. Now you know that if you stop your writing routine, it is going to be that much harder to start again so you have an incentive to keep going.
- Understand how the mind works (especially the reptile brain. This is the mindset piece. Your feeling like a failure may not actually be real. In someone else’s eyes, you could be a success. We go back to the perception and definition piece. Understanding how the reptile brain work by creating limiting beliefs to keep us safe, is half the battle of mindset. Mindset is hugely important to success (and to freeing oneself from the fear of failure). The more you feed your reptile brain, the more it will churn negativity. And your reptile brain cannot make the difference between real danger of failure and your imagination. So it is paramount on your journey to free yourself from the fear of failure, to recognise when you are letting your reptile brain run the show. You could actually be making up a story of failure, as I did as a first time author, when really, changing the narrative can make it a success story.
- Celebrate every step along the way. I know I have mentioned this before but I can guarantee you that the more you celebrate your successes along the way, the more successful you will be. It’s a snow ball effect. Some would call it the law of attraction. If you feel successful you are likely to take more risks which in turn increases your chances of success. It’s a virtuous circle. No one accomplishes their dreams by playing safe. Celebrate taking risks before you even know how it is going to turn out. Celebrate that you have courage. Celebrate that you have the confidence to do something you are not sure you can do and surround yourself with people who celebrate you.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
There are as many versions of success as there are people on this planet because success means so many different things to so many different people. And even though Aristotle saw the pursuit of happiness as the ultimate success, what makes one person happy can make another miserable. In addition to this, happiness is a temporary state of mind. The only one way to fail is to give up, so I would actually radically differ from Aristotle’s point of view on failure and success.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to be the person who helps put intuition on the school curriculum, because I know that when we lean into our intuition, we express the best version of ourselves. Most geniuses have received ideas when they were tuning into their intuition. They were not actively thinking. They had been engaged in activities that they could do on autopilot which allowed them to receive ideas that changed the world. What better way to change the world by teaching every individual how to receive ideas that will change the world? We cannot create anything new by studying what others have done before us. We need to learn a new way of thinking. Intuitive intelligence, which is the highest form of intelligence, will hopefully one day become the norm.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would say Tim Cook as he knows how important intuition was to Steve Jobs. But Steve Jobs did not teach intuition to others as he was too busy using his own to pursuse his own business endeavours. Whereas I can teach intuition to anyone and how to use it into any context.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best place to find out more about me is on my website www.theintuitiverevolution.co.uk. I have a podcast called the Intuitive Revolution in Business. At the time of writing this article, I am mostly active on Facebook especially in my free community called the Intuitive Revolution for Brilliant Entrepreneurs with Ange, and LinkedInicle.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.