Confront the fear of failure- It’s unfortunate that being a mom-preneur caused me to face my fear of failure by becoming homeless. This experience helped me to realize that believing I always had to be perfect was a superficial illusion that I no longer had to live by. Becoming free from the fear of failure helped to dismantle old beliefs and thought patterns that no longer serve me or my family.
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 Elease A. Wiggins.
Elease A. Wiggins is a multidimensional powerhouse TEDx speaker, self-published author, coach, philanthropist, and mom of two. In 2015, she incorporated ELEASE, LLC, a coaching, speaking, and writing company. Then in 2018, she incorporated Communities Promoting Reading (CPR), a non-profit organization that supports low-income adult students. Throughout her career, Elease’s work has been dedicated to promoting self-awareness and self-improvement.
Strategy #17 Let failure be your teacher not your torturer
God Did Not Give Us The Spirit of Fear. To Face Fear, You Have To Learn It’s Origins | Mental…
God Did Not Give Us The Spirit of Fear. To Face Fear You Have To Learn It’s Origins | Mental HealthFollow on My…www.youtube.com
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 am an author, coach, and TEDx speaker. I support moms experiencing burnout by decreasing their stress and increasing their coping strategies and systems of support. When I started my business in 2015, my son was one and my daughter was six-years old. I was criticized for being a stay-at-home mom and for working outside my home. Solely supporting two children on an NYC adjunct salary plagued me with anxiety and depression.
Tired of feeling conflicted about my reality and other people’s expectations, I decided to teach my son at home while building my coaching business. Unfortunately, a year later, my family became homeless. My family was in survival mode, as I was living my greatest fear: FAILURE. Grateful that within six months, my family relocated to a new state. Over the next twenty-four months due to humiliation and hard work, I was endorsed by one of the greatest speakers in the personal development industry. This resulted in numerous speaking and training opportunities.
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?
In January of 2020, I was a career counselor for a government funded back-to-work program. Many clients were penalized for their inability to fulfill the thirty-five- hour weekly requirement due to various valid reasons. To prevent clients from being penalized for matters beyond their control, I created a hybrid back-to-work program. When I presented the idea to my manager, she quickly dismissed the idea and said, “It will never work”.
Two months later, the world was presented with COVID. With no directives from management nor the government, I facilitated an online version of the back-to-work program via zoom. The program was the first virtual back-to-work program in the state and was later recognized by the Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Labor as a “Best Practices. Clients were not only engaged in the program but they were also becoming employed during the pandemic. From this experience I learned not to allow rejection to stop me from creating and implementing solutions.
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?
- Responsible — Being a mom has helped me to become a successful leader. Once, my family was stable in our new home, I apologized for subjecting them to the experience of being homeless. Today my children say, “Being homeless was the best time of their lives”. I guess it really is all about perspective. I understand that my decisions might not yield the best consequences. However, I accept personal responsibility for both my wins and my losses.
- Resilient — I understand failing is a part of the leadership process not the end of it. Having a resilient mindset allows me to let failure be my teacher not my torturer (strategy #17 of A Farewell to Welfare). When my children and I were sleeping on family and friends’ couches, I viewed myself as a budding entrepreneur as opposed to a homeless mom. This perspective helped me to focus on my successes while learning from failures. Although I was physically, my mind continued to think positively. Hence, exercising resiliency.
- Relatable — In my teachings, speaking and writings, I put myself “all out there”. As a knowledgeable leader, I am aware that it is comforting and empowering for my clients when I share my struggles of balancing business and family life. They know they are not alone and are supported. The more relatable and vulnerable I am as a leader, the more welcomed my clients feels and forthcoming they are.
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 so afraid of failure because failing at a task you worked hard on distorts one’s self-image. Instead of seeing the experience as a failure, people see themselves as a failure when that is not the truth. In addition to their own negative self-pereption, the public scrutiny people receive from others also makes failure an extremely frightening experience.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
The downside of being afraid of failure is people remain stuck. This can limit people who wait for perfect conditions to avoid failure. Eventually, time passes, the momentum is gone and now feelings of regret are added to the feeling of fear.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the fear of failure can help improve our lives?
When you become free from failure, it helps you to challenge yourself. You know that initially you may not be perfect, and you are not afraid to challenge yourself to get it right. Essentially, when you become free from the fear of failure, you are more patient and gentle with yourself as you are a lifelong learner.
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 the fall of 2015, my book, A Farewell to Welfare: 25 Strategies to Freedom, Independence and Prosperity was selected to become a textbook for an Urban Studies course I was teaching at a community college in NYC. As a self-published author, this opportunity presented a dilemma. I had less than three weeks to fulfill the college book store’s order for 25 books. Where would I get the money? One morning while listening to Steve Harvey’s radio show, I heard him say, “There comes a time when you must risk your foundation for your future”. Consequently, I invested my rent money to fulfill the college bookstore’s order. This investment later contributed to my family becoming homeless. In retrospect, sacrificing my family’s foundation for our future helped me to face and overcome my fear 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 recovered from me causing my family to become homeless because I did not identify with failure: being a homeless mom. I knew what I said and how I felt about myself is what truly mattered. Besides, I know a secret that helps when I am down. That is, Progression often looks like regression. Meaning, when your habits are focused on manifesting, at some point it looks like you are failing. Do not be discouraged by outside appearances; I’m not. Instead: Kept Going!
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.
- Identify why you are afraid of failure- I was afraid of failing because I did not want to embarrass myself or my family.
- Get help from a professional or someone that you trust- I began working with a life coach who helped me identify and dismantle my fear of failure through self-awareness and self-improvement exercises.
- Determine where the fear of failure came from — As a first-born child, I was conditioned to believe I had to be the best and perfect. And failure was not tolerated.
- Make a plan- Even if you do not carry everything out line by line, creating a plan will help you to understand what you hope to accomplish and why you are doing this. In 2015, I was a finalist in a business plan competition. Although I did not win, the recommendations from the judges helped me to refocus my business to ensure sustainability. And here I am seven years later, sharing my story of how I became free from the fear of failure.
- Confront the fear of failure- It’s unfortunate that being a mom-preneur caused me to face my fear of failure by becoming homeless. This experience helped me to realize that believing I always had to be perfect was a superficial illusion that I no longer had to live by. Becoming free from the fear of failure helped to dismantle old beliefs and thought patterns that no longer serve me or my family.
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?
Based on my experiences, I have found Aristotle’s quote to be true. I think Aristotle really meant to be successful you must have good daily habits. Without good daily habits, it is possible to fail in many ways.
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. 🙂
There are many moms who love their children yet are exhausted with no outlet which is negatively impacting their parenting, (I know because I used to be one). I would like to inspire a movement to support these moms. I created a seven-week virtual coaching program, ReAwaken Your Light, to help moms overcome burnout.
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 🙂
Kenya Moore 1993 Miss USA winner
How can our readers further follow your work online? Visit my www.reawakenyourlight.com or Instagram, TikTok & Twitter @eleaseawiggins. Professor Elease Wiggins on Facebook.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.