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07.18.2019 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

What It Takes to be Comfortable with Failure

Being comfortable with failure is one of those things that is contrary to our human nature. After all, haven’t we been trained as professionals to do whatever it takes to avoid failure?

Leaders who’ve experienced high levels of success, however, point to an entirely different perspective. They understand that the journey to success is often paved by a rocky road of failure.

In a recent interview with Tricia Brouk, I was reminded of this truth. Among the many hats she wears, Tricia is the Executive Producer of Speakers Who Dare and The Big Talk Productions. I’m one of Tricia’s many fans because she uses all her many skills and talents to create space for stories to unfold. In Tricia’s own words, she’s essentially a storyteller who wants to make the world a better place. She does this by creating safe spaces for actors, speakers, and leaders to share their unique message on behalf of others.

It’s a tall order, but part of what’s made Tricia so successful is that she has a very high level of confidence, one that is not daunted by failure. When I asked Tricia to describe the source of her confidence, she immediately painted a picture of herself as a young girl learning to dance.

In those early years, Tricia learned that if she fell, all she had to do was get back up again. She also learned the power of rejection and how it serves to make us stronger when we choose to learn from it. She brings this philosophy into her work as a leader on a daily basis as she helps her clients embrace constructive criticism and higher levels of performance.

Preparation and The Power of Objective Action

There is so much to unpack in my rich conversation with Tricia, you simply must listen here. But, as you listen to her wisely share her own comfort with failure and rejection, lean in closer to deeply embrace what she has to say about preparation.

You see, Tricia doesn’t just hope that her multiple endeavors will turn out. No, she lives by—and teaches her clients—to focus on Objective Action.

I can’t do justice to her philosophy in a few short words, but allow me to take a shot. It’s a perspective that I think anyone of us could easily apply to our leadership and our business.

Objective Action has to do with knowing what you want your audience or customer to do. Do you want them to buy something, support something, or respond to something? Whatever the scenario, you must know this in order to be fully prepared.

Knowing what you want them to do is the action part of the equation. How you’re going to persuade them to do what you want is the objective component. Knowing these two elements and moving forward accordingly is vital to your success.

For example, when Tricia was asked to choreograph a film opportunity with the likes of actors like James Gandolfino and Kate Winslet, she admitted to being fearful. Yet, she didn’t hesitate.

In her own words

I said, yes, and I did my homework. I put myself in a position of saying yes, and then I always do my homework so that I can be prepared and successful. When opportunities come, you have to be ready.

Tricia goes on to say:

You must pass through the moment of fear and get to the other side of, ‘Yes, I can do this.’ I can be scared to do something, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to allow fear to prevent me from doing it.

And, for some crazy achievers such as myself, I added: “The fear is often what energizes many of us to a higher level of excellence.”

Tricia agreed.

According to Tricia—and I so love the paradox between simplicity and complexity here—is that the technique of Objective in Action requires more than just “hoping” you’ll achieve success. You can’t hope you’re good enough. You have to do the work. You must understand both your objective and your action.

Objective of Action is a much higher perspective that requires a distinct level of thought, preparation, and intentionality. When we’re prepared and failure shows up, we can dust ourselves off, learn from the experience, and begin again.

We can say to ourselves, “I have done my best, and the best is yet to come.”

With respect to her work with speakers and actors, Tricia added, “It’s your responsibility to be able to communicate ideas in a way that create change from the stage.”

I would add that it’s our responsibility, as leaders, to create change in our businesses such that we make the world a better place. There’s no time to dwell on past mistakes or failures. We must get on with it. Take a lesson from a little dancer girl name Tricia who is now about the business of changing the world.

To learn more about Tricia and her work, you can listen here.

Question for the Week:

What would Objective of Action look like in your business?

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. July 18, 2019