Life’s learning experiences — Embrace your mistakes because your disappointments will take you to the pursuit of success. The growth of your mindset allows you to be resilient in the face of failures and sees it necessary in order to learn and achieve.
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 Bonnie Frankel.
Bonnie is nationally known to have left a comfortable lavish lifestyle in search for a more simplified compatible life path to create independent Bonnie. Midlife is when she fearlessly re-entered the educational system, and unexpectedly conquered a long-time fear by champion the academia as well as discovering her acquired passion for the run. USA Today described her, “At every turn, from privileged background to stormy adulthood, Frankel clawed to find her niche.”
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’?
During my early years of education, I developed low self- esteem because of my difficulty to grasp the academia instructed at a high school level in lieu of undetected learning disabilities. I was shifted from an academic to a business curriculum where it taught me the different aspects of business and helped my ability to develop practical life skills to succeed in college and in a future career. I felt left behind as I was separated from my friends/classmates which restimulated my feelings of abandonment and my self- worth. As karma would have you, I was able to transcend my sense of failure by re-entering the educational system after my exercise with breast cancer, suicide attempt, and an agonizing divorce.
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?
My ability to launch the beginnings of an unexpected career occurred midlife in taking a risk by reentering the educational system. It gave me the confidence to challenge to excel in the academics and shockingly became an honor student. This bold decision spanned to not only hook me up with Coach Tommie Smith who identified my unusual talent but also presented a passion for the love of the run. Discovering this exercise tempered my anxiety to cope with my undetected learning disabilities as well as eliminate my princess attitude. Fortuitously, it steered me to develop a career in the world of fitness as well as began my role as an activist by changing an NCAA eligibility rule for women. What I treasured about the educational system is that it opened up so many doors that I never could have possibly imagined.
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?
Passionate — When I am enthusiastic about a goal, it lures me to be in the present moment developing a plan on how to achieve my goal with the hope of attracting others to get on board. My optimistic energy influences those around me due to its contagiousness because it is the essential ingredient that launches me to get the support I need and take it to the finishing line. One of the objectives with my writings is to be able to manifest others to go beyond their fear of failure in order to discover their niche because it makes me feel confident that they will follow my lead.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) — When in the throes of a scary situation, EQ skills interrupts now and in the past as it transcends my disposition to make appropriate decisions in how to proceed effectively and efficiently. Although I was nervous about reentering the educational system, EQ equipped me with the courage to give it the old college try. This turned out to be a splendid decision because it brought me more concrete knowledge with the freedom to grow independent Bonnie. This would lead me to not only excel in my relationships, but in my personal and career activities. This tool would continue to lift my spirit to communicate successfully to share and listen to others to grow in our community.
Failure -When I was training to qualify for the Olympic Trials at sixty with Coach John Carlos, I was flustered with my failure to not accomplish my goal. I wanted to be able to set an example to inspire those to challenge themselves to do something that others thought to be an impossibility yet innately knew it was possible. Not being able to accomplish this feat had wings as it delegated my passion to another level to provide a theory for others to inspire those to achieve a healthy fit and find the right exercise. Never underestimate the importance of failure, because it can lead to an unexpected successful direction to a healthy direction. Many successful leaders failed many times until they got to their designated goal.
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?
People are frightened of failure because their ego interferes as it plays havoc to aspirations, shortens successes, and lengthens disappointments. In order to succeed, the experience of fail is pertinent to thrive. Having the courage to take a risk to go beyond one’s own comfort zone gifts us with clues of what to improve on. With the constant reminder of the uncertainty of today’s world, risk taking is not as popular as it once was. Most of us are holding on tightly to what we have. Fear triggers the ego to feel the emotion of low self- esteem and those that don’t wish to experience this will avoid risking in the first place because it serves as a way of protecting dignity. People don’t want to experience the feel of disappointment, regret, and sadness. Shame takes over and growth is stifled.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Those that choose not to venture out of their comfort zone prevents growth in every element in their life. What is correlated with fear is perfectionism. The form of precision is simply a fear of making mistakes that can prevent us from growing to begin, complete, and avert us from achieving beloved dreams. Symptoms of fear of failing is lack of beginning, the follow through with the intended goals as well as not birthing new ones The fear can stem from self-sabotage, low self -esteem, and uncertainty. The incompetence to cope with uncertainty will present problematic situations because of the inability to grow as well as to adjust to a road less traveled, much of what are society is experiencing living in the post pandemic world of today.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
The wonderful thing about failure is the way we choose to perceive it. If we regard it as a learning experience because in essence that is what it is, it promotes growth as well as expands opportunities. Being fearless lessens the anxiety and offers the possibilities to take more risks. Taking a chance is vital with the ability to thrive as opposed to being immobile because it offers you a clue to understand what to change the next time around. The privilege in challenging uncertainties ascertains the joy of obtaining knowledge. Start with a positive mindset and take your first leap. When we don’t succeed at something it spawns creativity, motivation, and resilience.
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?
Having multiple misfortunes throughout my life, lead me to gradual triumphs to attaining independent Bonnie’s life path. The most game changing failure was the finalization of the divorce that nearly killed me but alternatively helped me to fearlessly venture out to unequivocally discover what I wanted to do with my life. The process of the divorce proved overwhelming which provoked an unsuccessful suicide attempt. My guilt with this event fearlessly steered me to challenge a previous goal that I never dreamed would be possible to attain, a college degree. I gingerly re-entered the educational system and the third time around was the charm. I was able to ace the academia that literally ran me into a career that was right up my alley, and shifted my extravagant complicated life style into a more manageable uncomplicated one. The ability to expand my learning and challenge this fear challenged me to fearlessly change other areas in my life. I was on a roll.
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?
When you fail at something from the past, that something can unexpectedly arise in another chapter down the road and surprisingly thrive at. When one door closes, another chance opens with a possibility to succeed where you have failed before. That something can reappear in a peculiar set of circumstances but this time have a happy ending. I re-entered the educational system taking baby steps at the suggestion of the judge from my divorce case and the support of my best friend. After the finalization of the divorce, listening to my intuition with the right support team factored in to my attaining a college degree. By taking a chance, lead me to the search of what components were important to complete independent Bonnie. This put me on a path of how the importance of learning has taken over my life. Never ever stop trying where you have once failed, because you never know that one of those tries will be lucrative.
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”?
1) Support system — The more people that you have in your corner supporting you to take a chance, could be the shove you need to go forward to take the risk. After the finalization of my divorce, the judge suggested I go back to school and find out what to do with my life and he had no idea of my past failures with the educational system. The suggestion resonated in my head, with the help of a selective group, I took on the challenge and never looked back.
2) Best friend — Talking to a trusting friend will shine light on you to move unequivocally forward. The safe feeling and the history of the relationship helps you to believe that person knows your personality better than you do. Your friend will nudge you to try something that you never thought you would do.
3) Just Do It Attitude — Don’t think about it, trust your intuition. By just doing it and not overthinking, this something can manifest itself. Do affirmations and remind yourself that every day is a new beginning to revisit a once failed goal. “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
4) Keep a journal — Write down a plan to conquer your failures and your journey which helps you to accomplish your goal. This form of activity keeps you in the swing of things because it is easier for you to make actual changes documented with pen and paper and it is written in stone.
5) Life’s learning experiences — Embrace your mistakes because your disappointments will take you to the pursuit of success. The growth of your mindset allows you to be resilient in the face of failures and sees it necessary in order to learn and achieve.
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?
When you do not attain your goal after trying many times, keep trucking. To miss the mark takes many times of pursuing. Look at trying as a learning process to get what you want to achieve. Practice makes perfect.
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.
Challenge your fears.
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 🙂
Billy Jean King
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Bonniefrankel.com., Facebook, Authority Magazine
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.