26: Two Barriers Getting in the Way of Your Success

This is a very important episode.  I’m going to cover two barriers to success.

How to make mistakes and how to fail successfully.

Let’s start with the first barrier to success.


This episode is for all my perfectionist soul mates out there.  I may have struggled a lot with perfectionism in my past, allegedly…  I may still have the odd bout of it but I’m working on having it less and less in my life.

I feel like this is an area I have some expertise in.  Also as a teacher, sadly, I see too many kids already affected by perfectionism at a really young age.  Hence, why this is such an important topic to be aware of.

Have you ever experienced self-doubt or had a thought that sounds a little something like this?

‘I’m not good enough’.

Or a variation of it: ‘It’s not good enough’, ‘I have to get it right’.

However it sounds for you in your head, I know you understand me.

I used to genuinely believe being perfect was a good thing.  But I know now, having to get it right, being a perfectionist is actually about being afraid to make a mistake or get it wrong.  We have to get it right because failure is not an option, we don’t want to feel the pain of getting it wrong, being wrong or not living up to some imaginary expectations we set for ourselves.

Not being good enough.

Being a perfectionist is dangerous territory for our self-esteem because I’m here to tell you as a very experienced, expert perfectionist that the tragedy here is, we can never ever ever live up to our expectations and we will constantly live under the shadow of ‘I’m not good enough’ as we strive for this elusive perfect.  What is perfect anyway?

Who decides ‘it’, ‘we’, ‘me’, ‘the task at hand’  is perfect anyway?

You.  You decide.  You decide if you are good enough, you decide if the task is perfect.  It’s all in your/our head.  It is all our thoughts.

I want you to really contemplate this.

Ok so I’m not saying that we are always great at everything. Although if that was a thought that you had that might be very useful.

What I am saying is this:  Perfectionism is such a time waster.

Done is better than perfect.

Try your best, aim high but then move on.  When we spend hours on something, re-reading the email for the tenth time to check it is perfect is not productive.  As a side note, my mother in-law who I like to think of as the editing queen always replies back to me with editing mistakes, I have made on my newsletter emails.  Do I want my weekly email to be free of mistakes? Absolutely. Do I want to spend 4 hours on an email.  Of course not.  In my mind my email newsletter is perfect because it is complete, sent and in the inbox of my listeners who I adore and want to tell them all the things that will help them.  My idea of success is getting the email out every week on time with relevant and helpful content.  No one is going to die if there is a typo in my newsletter.  I don’t like having typos but I’m okay about it.

Sadly, so often us perfectionist don’t want to try something new or step outside of our comfort zone because we don’t want to experience being bad at something or the possibility of failure. So we just fail ahead of time by not even trying something new in the first place.

We need to be willing to be bad at it.

Which is the second barrier.

Not being willing to be bad at something is a major barrier to success.

Have you ever watched a toddler learning something new?  They are so bad at everything.  My 3 year daughter has so many scrapes and bumps from just her day to day life of moving, climbing and running.  Don’t get me started on eating and using cutlery.  What a mess.  But it's fine right?  No one is judging her, no one thinks she is wrong or bad or not good enough because we all know she is a kid learning new skills as she navigates life.  However, for some reason,  jump to adulthood and suddenly we are not allowed to be bad at anything.  We expect to go from never having done something, to expert with no experience in-between.

When we are learning something new.  We have to allow ourselves to be bad at it.  We will never be successful and create super crazy success for ourselves without first being prepared to fall flat on our face, suck at it and fail many times.

This is the difference between people who experience high levels of success and those who don’t.  To succeed, you must be prepared to fail, and I don’t just mean be prepared, I mean you will fail.  It is inevitable and this is the most exciting and beautiful part because it is these so called failures that make us stronger and wiser and ultimately prepare us for the success we are aiming for.

Let me give you an example: – Babies are so bad at walking when they first try.  It takes so many falls or fails until a baby can walk.  Can you imagine if they just gave up?  But this is what we so often do as adults.  Perfect example, we have the ideal we want to invest in shares.  We want to be an investor, so we go out and buy shares in one company.  This is probably one of the most high-risk actions you can take as an investor but you do it because you lack experience.  Surprise surprise the share price plummets, you sell out at a loss and think I’m no good at investing and never do it again.

But what if that wasn’t the case, what if you went into making that first trade with the willingness to be bad at it.  I want to offer you the option that when we expect to make mistakes and have failures along the way; it’s possible that we can be okay about it and use failures as an essential part of the learning process.  Take the shares example.  What if instead of giving up you used that as a learning experience, an opportunity to think- gee maybe there is more to learn about investing.  Maybe I need to do an investing course, or read about what other successful investors do.

This applies for everything in your life.  Let yourself be bad at it.

Now I know this can be really scary.

After 10 years in the teaching industry I consider myself an experienced teacher.  I know a thing or two about teaching but man oh man you should have seen the very first lesson I did in front of my university instructor.  I was a deer in the headlights.

It was bad.

I had no behaviour management skills, I was still learning how to be engaging, there were kids running about everywhere, It was a disaster, a total fail but that’s okay.  I got great feedback from my instructor and on reflection I could also identify where I could improve.  But I had to go through that process of being bad at it.  I was never going to be a great teacher without teaching lots of classes, many of which, certainly didn’t go to plan.  Many of which, I felt nervous and out of my depth but I did it anyway.

By the time this episode goes to air I will have started my life coach certification training.  I already know I am an excellent coach.  This is a new skill I am adding to my repertoire, I have only recently begun the training but I am already saying I am an excellent coach, why is this so? It’s because I am totally willing to be bad at it.  I’m not planning on being a bad coach on purpose but I understand there is a ‘learning to walk phase’ so to speak, where I am developing my coaching muscles and for sure, will have some falls along the way, while I build that strength.  This is why I am a great coach.  Even in my training I’m already coaching you a fundamental component of success.  Failure.

I’m for sure going to be failing hard over the next couple of months as I transition to setting myself up as a coach.  I have moments of fear or doubt for sure but for the most part I just feel like bring it on.  I have learnt this is an essential part of success.

Now I must just clarify when I say failure, I’m not planning to give up or self-sabotage that’s is not what I mean.  Not passing my certification because I didn’t show up for class or do the required work is not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about going all in, showing up 100 percent and when I trip up and fall on my face as I learn, I can just pick myself up with the knowledge that this is part of the journey.  This is part of mastering a new skill.

So when you go to do your first budget and you stuff it up because you have left something out or calculated it incorrectly.  Don’t throw your hands up in the air and declare you are no good at budgeting.  Pick yourself up and have another crack at it.  Again and again until you are the budget queen.  Too often we give up on our dreams because oh no, we made a mistake.  We were a bit sh*t at it.  So what?

Really truly, we have to really look at what we are thinking that causes us to do this.  Because it is not helpful and is a major road block to achieving what you want.

I know my thought is often ‘I’m not good enough’ or  ‘I can’t do this’ but I just want to offer because I know for sure you have had these thoughts too that our brains have some crazy amount of thoughts per day I heard around sixty thousand! Yep sixty thousand.  A thought is just that, a sentence in our brain. It is not the gospel truth.  We have the power to actually decide ahead of time how we want to think or the thoughts that we want to focus on.    We could decide to focus on another thought like 'I wonder why that didn’t work?',  'What do I need to change?' or ‘wow I’m getting better at this’.

The 'I’m not good enough' thought is a popular one that many of us think.  But we don’t have to give it any weight.

I want to end by sharing a beautiful interaction I had with my daughter this morning on our walk to school.

She loves to sing and make up rhymes but this morning she just started saying this little mantra.   She was holding my hand, skipping along next to me saying ‘I am enough’ and she meant it.  She believes it.   My heart was just about swelling out of chest with love for her.  Then she turns to me and says ‘mum you are enough, I love you’.

It’s moments like these that make me so humbled by the wisdom and pureness that comes from children.  Amazing.

I am enough and you are enough, we all are.  That doesn’t change just because we are learning something new and suck at it.  It’s ok to be bad at it.  This has no connection to your self-worth.  You are enough always.

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