On our fourth and final “Best Of” episode, I’m bringing you back to a conversation all about believing that one's success is inevitable, one of the core principles that I coach my clients. I live my life from this perspective, and during today's episode, I'll share with you how that perspective and belief shifts so many things for me. Now, let’s dive in.
** Please note, as a “Best Of” episode, some of the links you’ll hear mentioned are no longer active. All currently working links that are referred to in the episode will be in the show notes on my website.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/175
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- Failure is not something permanent (4:45)
- Having growth mindset is key (5:34)
- Difference between a fixed and a growth mindset (7:21, 8:37, 8:57)
- Ask: “What am I making this experience mean?” (10:17, 15:50)
- Failure is just feedback (20:36, 23:26)
- Looking at failure as evidence that you are close to your goal (27:04)
You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 175.
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
An episode that’s all about failure 0:41
Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps after Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, and welcome to today's episode. Okay, so today's episode is a solo episode. And it's all about failure. And I titled the episode, “Failure Doesn't Exist.” And I'm going to tell you why. And we're going to talk through failure because I think this is such an important life lesson. Of course, it's a lesson in your fitness journey but honestly, talking about failure is a life lesson. And I think as we can reframe it, and change the way we think about it, it can benefit you. Yes, as you're going through your fitness journey, but also in so many other aspects of your life.
My guesting in Monica Packer’s podcast 1:25
Now, I want to start with a story. And this happened a couple years ago when I was a little bit newer in my business and in my Instagram account. By the way, are you following me on @bicepsafterbabies on Instagram? I hope you are. But at this point, I was approached by Monica Packer. And at this point, I didn't really know who she was. But she had a fairly new podcast called About Progress. And if you haven't checked out About Progress, I highly suggest it. I love Monica, I love what she puts out into the world. But she asked me to be on the podcast. And let me tell you, it was kind of terrifying. It was my first experience being interviewed, it was my first experience being put out onto a podcast. And I was really nervous going into it. Monica made it really easy. And she was super kind and super complimentary. And it was overall a really, really great experience. And it kind of put the podcast bug into me. So I will be forever grateful to her for that. But one of the questions that she asked me during the interview kind of took me by surprise and made me kind of stop and think and reflect a little bit. And that was the question, “Tell me something that you have failed at.” And I say this with all the humility in my heart, I couldn't think of anything. And she asked me the question, and I was, “I can't think of anything.” And so she's like, “It's okay. We can edit this out. Just think about it. And whenever you're ready, we can start and we'll just edit out all the hums and ahhs and I can't think of anything.” And so I like to sit there. And I was like, “I really can't think of anything.” And she ended up being, “Oh, well, it's okay. We'll go on. And we'll just keep asking other questions.” And so we did. And we finished the interview. And we said goodbye. And over the next couple of days, I was kind of going back over the interview. And that question kept coming up to me like, “What have you failed at in your life?” And I was, “This is so dumb that I can't think of anything that I failed at.” Obviously, I failed at things in my life, Amber. Come on, like we are not perfect. But I couldn't come up with anything that felt like that. And so what I ended up coming up with because I thought about this for several days. What I ended up coming up with was I talked about my experience when my son almost drowned. And so if you go and you listen to episode number 14 of about progress, you will hear my interview with Monica. And one of the things I shared during that interview was that one of the failures that I experienced was when my son almost drowned in a lake and I shared that experience. And I'm sure I'll talk more about that on the podcast over time, but she ended up editing that back into the podcast. And she asked the question, “What's something that you failed at?” And I tell that story about when my son almost drowned and that experience and doing CPR on him and he is okay and he's fine and he just turned seven. But that experience was definitely one that was a big– you can imagine a big experience in my life. And we talked about failure around that. And as moms, how a lot of times we feel very guilty for things that we do or don't do. And so that was my response. And that was the answer that I gave her.
Failure is not something permanent 4:45
But as I thought about this more, I came back to this question of like, “Why did I struggle so much coming up with a failure in my life?” And I really want to emphasize this. It is not because I have never failed. But it is because I don't view failure as something that's permanent. I don't view failure as something that means anything about me. And so I think all through my life as I've had failures and I've fallen down and as had struggles, I don't make it mean anything about me, and I don't feel it viscerally. And I don't make it this big, huge thing. I kind of just get up and I just keep going. And for me, it's just part of the process.
And I've learned more as I've gotten older, and as I've done more research, that this really is a difference in mindset in a lot of people. And you've probably heard the research by Carol Dweck, which is really big. I feel like I'm in school now. All my kids come home talking about the difference between fixed and growth mindset. And, in our schools, they teach them very, very early, the difference between fixed and growth mindset, and really, really start to help the kids to develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset because it helps them to be better students, and it helps them to achieve higher throughout their life. So if you're not familiar with the concept of Fixed versus Growth Mindset, or even if you are familiar with it, I really highly suggest Carol Dweck's book called Mindset, the new psychology of success. How we can learn to fill our potential. And I'll link that in the show notes. But I've even heard of fixed and growth mindset. But reading her book really brought it more to life for me, so I really recommend her book. But this idea of fixed versus growth mindset is huge. And it's huge when we talk about this idea of failure. So let's just talk a little bit about fixed versus growth mindset. Because as I was reading the book, I really understood that, “Yeah, I have a lot of growth mindset in me. But I definitely still have some fixed mindset.” So whether or not– it's not whether or not you have all fixed mindset or all growth mindset. But it's about identifying where maybe you tend to lean to that fixed mindset and trying to incorporate more of the growth mindset. So let's kind of talk about these two different mindsets because some of you may be very familiar with this research. And some of you may not, this may be the first time you're hearing it.
Fixed mindset 7:21
So in a fixed mindset, you truly believe that qualities are carved in stone. So you believe that you come to this earth, and you only have a certain amount of intelligence, and your personality is unchangeable and unchanging. And when you come with that perspective, then you really are kind of trying to show and prove your expertise that at every moment, so every situation becomes one that is either going to confirm that intelligence, or it's going to refute that intelligence, or it's going to confirm your personality, or it's going to refute it. And so when you start to go through an experience, raise your hand in class, or have a relationship with someone, you tend to think about whether I'm going to succeed or fail because if you succeed, well, then it's confirming your innate intelligence is your innate personality. And if you fail, then it means something about you, it means that you maybe aren't as intelligent as you thought you were. And so you make this big mental leap that if you fail at something, it means you must question if you are even as smart as you thought you were.
Growth mindset 8:37
Whereas with a growth mindset, you believe that things are changeable, that you can improve your intelligence, that you can change your personality, that you are able to grow, and that nothing is fixed. And so if you put effort into something, you can change it. And you can see that with applied effort.
Difference between a fixed and a growth mindset 8:57
And so the difference with growth mindset is that when people who have a growth mindset run up against something that's challenging, they get excited about it because they recognize that this is how they grow. They know that they can grow, and they know that when they're facing challenges, that's how they're going to grow. And so they get excited about stretching themselves and learning something new, and developing themselves. Dr. Dweck gives an example of a seventh-grade girl and I want to read this because I think it very classically defines what a growth mindset looks like in someone. And this girl said, “I think intelligence is something you have to work for. It isn't just given to you.” Most kids, if they're not sure of an answer, will not raise their hand to answer the question. But what I usually do is raise mine. And because if I'm wrong, then my mistake will be corrected. Or I'll raise my hand and say, “How could this be solved?” or, “I don't get this? Can you help me?” Just by doing that I'm increasing my intelligence. So the difference between this fixed and growth mindset is that those who have a growth mindset are really excited about growth and about challenging themselves and pushing themselves because they know that they can get better. Whereas the fixed mindset, they kind of think like this is it either I am smart, or I'm not smart. Or either I am a patient mom, or I'm not a patient mom.
And so as you're listening to this, I want you to kind of do a little bit of reflecting. And like I said, it's not like you either have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. It's not like an either-or, but you likely have a little bit of both in different areas of your life. And it's important to start to identify that. When you find yourself having this fixed mindset of either you are somebody who exercises or you aren't? Or either you're somebody who loves the gym, or you don't? And there's no way to change that, or do you come at it with this idea that you could grow to love vegetables, or you could grow to really like weight lifting weights, or you could grow to reach the physique that you want to have. The growth mindset is a buffer against defeatism. It changes failure and reframes it as something that is final and decisive about you. And creates it as a natural part of the change process. And it's really important to understand that you are only going to persevere if you view failure, or you view falling down, as learning rather than failure. And that's why I say failure doesn't exist. And in my mind, failure really doesn't exist. It's not really a thing. And you could argue and say, “Oh, well failure is just you set a goal and you don't achieve it. That's the definition of failure.” And sure, maybe that's like a logical definition of failure. And by that stroke, yes, of course, like everybody is going to fail. But in my mind, failure and the opinions that come with failure, and the emotion that comes with failure, doesn't even really exist in my life. And I really think it's one of the things that has benefited me most to be able to grow and to learn and to get to the place where I'm at right now. In our society, failure has gone from an action of I failed, and it's gone to an identity. I am a failure. And I think that's when we start to have a problem. When we start to make it mean something about us.
What am I making this experience mean? 12:41
And so this is the next point that I want to make. And when I learned this, it was really revolutionary for me. And again, it's colored the way that I see the world. And it's colored the way that I see my success and my failures. And that is this question that I asked myself, and I think you could start to ask yourself the same question of what am I making this experience mean? What am I making this mean? Because we all have experiences. We're all going to set goals and not achieve them. We're all going to set goals and achieve them. And whether or not you achieve a goal is completely irrelevant, right? You're gonna achieve some goals, you're going to not achieve some goals. It's kind of irrelevant. But what we do with that is we make it mean something. We place an external value on it. And we make it mean something about us, something about our identity, something about what's possible in the future for us, and that's where we really get into trouble. So I see this all the time where someone will step on the scale, and they'll see a number that's higher than yesterday. And they go into the spiral of making it have all of these meanings that increase on the scale means, “I've gained weight.” It means, “I shouldn't have eaten that cookie yesterday.” It means, “I have no self-control, and I'm never going to be successful.” And it's so important to understand that we get to assign the meaning to something.
Difference between facts and stories 14:01
So this is where we kind of dive into a little bit of the difference between facts and stories, and the interpretation that we have of those facts. And so let's take a pause and kind of talk a little bit about that. Because it's really important, especially in your fitness journey to understand the difference between facts and interpretations. So a fact is something that is irrefutable. It is something that is the same for every single person. And it just is. So for example, a number on the scale is a number. It's just a number like and it's going to be the same whether you have on that scale or that scale, right? If the scales are calibrated correctly, it's a fact. It's just a number. But the problem is that we take facts in our life, like your weight, or like your health, or the number of children you have, and what we do is we assign an interpretation to that fact. So we take the fact that “I weigh 170 pounds.” And we create all these stories around it. We interpret it to mean, that's a bad number, or that's a good number. For some people, that may be a really good number, or it means, “I'm not going to fit into my dress.” Or it means, “I'm not capable of doing this.” Or it means, “I'm really lazy.” But I want you to understand that the fact is that you weigh 170 pounds. And the interpretation of that fact is all up to you and your brain. Two people can weigh 170 pounds, and one person can be static and one person can feel like it's the worst thing in the world. So that's how you know if something is an interpretation or not. If it can be different for two different people, then that's a story. That's an interpretation, and it's not a fact.
Take control and consciously change what facts mean to you 15:50
And so when you come from this place of realizing that you have 100% power to interpret things the way that you want to interpret them, it's such an important place to be in this life. When you come from this place of making the number on the scale means something about your worthiness, or about what's possible for you, you automatically are going to limit yourself of what you're capable of. But when you can take control, and you can consciously change what you make things mean, it changes everything for you. And so when we come back to this idea, the fact that failure doesn't exist, it's because what tends to happen is people hit a roadblock, or they don't hit a goal, or they fail at something, and then they start with this cascade of what they make it mean. They make it mean, “Okay, I failed. I'm never going to get there.” Or, “I failed. That means that I can't do this.” Or, “I failed, and that means that I'm never going to be able to change.” Or, “I failed. And that means that I'm not as strong as she is.” And so, failure is maybe a fact, right? You may have failed, you may not have hit your goal. But that interpretation of that failure is 100% up to you. And I think from– and I think in my life, that's why I feel like failure doesn't exist because I have gotten really good at being able to be in control of the interpretation of my failure. And so when I have a launch, and it doesn't go the way that I want it to go, or I don't hit the goals that I want to hit, I don't make it mean anything about what I'm capable of or the impact I can have in people's lives. I can analyze it, and I can tweak things, and I can understand that I'm getting feedback to be able to make it better in the long run. But if you can step away from making an emotional judgment on yourself, and view that failure as just feedback, it takes the power away from it and takes the emotional response away from it. And it allows you to stay in that growth mindset and recognize that if you're failing, then that's awesome because it means that you're pushing yourself. And the only way that you're going to get better is through pushing yourself.
Self reflection 18:17
So let's relate this to your life right now. What are some facts about your life that you have given an interpretation to that may not be helping you? Maybe you wanted to lose 10 pounds by a certain date, and you didn't do it. What are you making that mean? What makes you feel It's possible now because you didn't hit that goal? What about what– how many children do you have? Or the time constraints you have? That can be a fact, right? Like, I go to work. I have to commute, and I have four kids. Okay, those may be the facts. But the problem is, we take those facts, and we make them mean something about what we're able to do. Right? I go to work, and I have four kids. So that means that I don't have time to go to the gym. But we create that interpretation. We can create what that means for us, what it means for us to be for what is possible for us in life, and when you can understand that, and you understand that your brain is doing that, nobody else's brain is doing that, your brain is doing that, then you are now in control and able to change that interpretation to be something that helps you and supports you and makes you feel like, “Yes, you can be successful.” And, “Yes, you can do this.” And failure means nothing about you as a human or an individual. It means nothing about your worthiness. It simply means that you set a goal that you chose, by the way, not like you get to pick your goals. So you chose the goal. You didn't hit it, and now you're making it mean all crappy things about you. And that's a crappy way to go through life. So I want you to consider this and when you hit roadblocks, when you hit something that is a failure that you would deem a failure, I want you to start to ask this question of, “What am I making this experience mean?” And if I make it mean something that isn't helping me and doesn't feel good, then I am in control. And I get to change the meaning of things. And so you really can. You can do this reframing in your life. So that failure is something that is just experience. It's just feedback. It's just something that you're learning from and growing. And failure is bomb-awesome because it means you're getting better.
Failure is just feedback 20:36
Okay, so I'm trying to stay organized in this episode, and not just throw a whole bunch of random tidbits at you. So the first point that I made was that having a growth mindset is key. And you probably have a growth mindset and some things and our goal is really to get to that growth mindset in most areas of your life. So that was the first key. The second, was that I want you to start asking yourself the question, “What am I making this experience mean?” And recognize that you have control over that interpretation. Now, the third thing I want to talk about is something that blew my mind. And this was something that I was taught by my mentor, James Wedmore, and I use it all the time. And I use it in my own life. And I also use it with my clients. And that is this idea, and I've said it before that failure is just feedback. And the reason that I don't believe in failure, and I don't believe that exists, is because I think it's not a failure. It is either the result you wanted or the lesson you needed. Okay, so I'm gonna say that, again, you get either the result you wanted, or the lesson that you needed. And so when you come from it from that perspective of, “I tried something and it didn't work, and now I know one thing that doesn't work and I can try it again.” It comes from this place of, again, failure doesn't mean anything about you. It's just some feedback to let you know that you need to adjust course a little bit. It's like let's pretend that you were trying to guess a number. And you had someone who's like, “Okay, guess a number. It can be any number in the whole world.” And so you throw out a number and they say, “No, that's not it. And you're like, “Oh, okay.” So you throw out another number. And they're like, “No, it's not it.” You're like, “What the heck am I gonna guess? There's like a bajillion numbers. There are infinite numbers. How am I gonna guess this number that they're thinking of?” How different is that experience from the experience of you throwing out a number and the person saying, “No, it's lower than that.” And you throw out a number– and another number and the person is like, “No, it's higher than that.” You're like, “Okay, cool. Now I have a range.” And so you can throw out numbers, and as they're doing higher or lower, you are gonna eventually be able to get on to whatever number it is that they chose. And it's the same thing. I feel like we go through life. That we do these things, we set these goals, and we try to do something and the universe, or God, or whatever tells us, “Nope, that's not quite right but you're close.” And so then we can be like, “Okay, cool, this works, but this didn't work. So now I know that and now I can try again.” And it's like the universe is giving us this guidance to kind of funnel down and figure out what does work.
But sometimes, we have to go through experiences that don't work in order to get to the ones that do. And the problem is that too many people don't view failure as a lesson. And they don't learn the lesson. And so what happens is they continue to repeat the lesson. They continue to repeat the failure because they're not taking that feedback, analyzing it and understanding it, and figuring out how that can then influence what they do in the future. And so I really feel like debriefing is one of the most important things that you can do after any experience. Whether it's a launch in your business, whether it is going to a birthday party, where you're nervous about how you're going to handle food, whether it's going on a vacation. I think debriefing your experiences is one of the most valuable things that you can do to continue your progress. And in a debrief, the focus is on, again, detaching yourself from the result, and figuring out either, “Okay, did I get the result I wanted? Or did I get that lesson? And if it was a lesson, and I didn't– I didn't do what I wanted to do, what is the lesson that I can take away from this and apply the next time.” And so I do this with my clients when they go on vacation, come back from that vacation, do a little bit of debriefing and analysis of how you did during that vacation. What worked really well? What didn't work so well? And on those things that didn't work so well, how can you create something the next time and try something different the next time to see If that works a little bit better for you? And so in my coaching and in Macros 101, which is my new program that just closed registration, actually today, we're closing registration today, but in Macros 101, I teach about debriefing, and I teach about how to go through this process and how to take charge of creating the results that you want. And it's a powerful, powerful experience for most women to be able to view failure as feedback as a result that you want or a lesson that you need.
A story about making mistake as a learning opportunity to grow and progress 25:28
I want to share a story that I came across as well that illustrates this point beautifully. And this was back in the 1960s. And it was at the company, IBM, and there was an executive at IBM, and he ended up making a decision that ended up costing the company $10 million, which was back in 1960. So our dollars today would be like $70 million. So this man made a choice that cost the company $70 million. And so the CEO at the time, Tom Watson, called this man into his office. And you can imagine that the man felt pretty sheepish. And hopefully, you're a little bit repentant, and the CEO said, “Do you know why I've asked you here?” And the man said, “I assume it's because you're gonna fire me.” And the CEO kind of looked surprised, and he said, “Fire you? Of course not. I just spent $10 million educating you.” Isn't that such a great story? This is how I want you to view life. T is saying that he just spent $70 million or $10 million in 1960's dollars, educating this man. That man is never ever, ever going to make that same mistake. And to just fire him would be a waste of that experience of that learning experience that that man he has. And so I want you to think about that. As you go through, and as you make mistakes, they're just learning opportunities, and it's opportunities for you to grow and to progress.
Looking at failure as evidence that you are close to your goal 27:04
Alright, so takeaway number four, that I want you to think about, is what if you looked at failure as just evidence that you're one step closer to your goal? Because what I find is that failure crops up a lot more when our success is almost within reach. Okay? So, for example, I want you to think back maybe when you were in college, and all of us had experiences, if you went to college, or even in high school, where you had classes that you didn't really love. For me, it was calculus. I remember I took calculus, my very first semester at BYU, and I have never worked harder for a lower grade in my life. But there's crappy classes in college. We can all attest to that, but you know that you have to get through some of these classes that maybe you don't like in order to get to your goal of graduating. You know on the other side of that crappy class is graduation. You have to just go through the list of requirements. And so even though you don't like class, or it's not fun, or it's really hard, you know that you have to get through that class because at the other side is graduation. And it doesn't necessarily mean you're doing the wrong thing, right? You're on the right path. You're going to get to that graduation. You just have to go through the class, and what if we could relate this to your life and failure? What if it's like, “Hey, you're gonna have to go through this failure to get what you want”? So would you– are you going to avoid it? Are you going to say, “No, no, I can't go to that failure.”? If the thing that you want is on the other side of that failure? Or would you just get it over with like, “let's just get the failure over with so I can get through it so I can get to the success that I want.” So often, we set these goals, and we have things that we want, and we think that we're going to be able to get there without any failure. What if you change your mindset around that? And just decided that “You know what?” in-between where you are now, and where you want to be, there is a certain amount of failure. Like, “let's just get through the failure.” In fact, in a lot of Silicon Valley startups, their motto is, “Fail fast, fail forward.” They want you to fail. We gotta get through these failures. But the key is, let's just do it fast. And let's just make sure we're continuing to fail forward, as we do that in. And if you can think about your fitness journey in that way of like, “Yeah, I'm gonna screw up and I'm gonna fail and I'm gonna fall down hard, but let's just get it over with. Let's just do it fast, and let's just keep moving forward as we do it.” That's a powerful place to be able to reframe that to failure in your life. So one question I want you to think about is, “What would you do today? If you knew that you were just one failure away from your biggest success?” If there was just one failure standing in between you and your biggest success, what would you do today? To be able to just get through that failure. Just make it happen and let's get to the other side of it.
Okay, so I'm going to wrap things up. But I hope that this episode has given you something to maybe chew on, and maybe some things to consider. And maybe some of it made you uncomfortable. And it made you think, “Hmm, that's a weird way to think about it. I don't know if I believe that, Amber.” I've challenged you to even if you think it's weird, or even if you think it's not going to be helpful to you to try and make some of these changes in your mind and see how it changes things in your life. So again, those key points that I really want you to take away from listening to this podcast episode. One, a growth mindset is key. So sticking with that growth mindset, and recognizing that, yes, you can change, you can change your personality, you can change your body, you can change your relationships, you are a human who can make changes in their life, and you do not have this fixed set of intelligence, you don't have a fixed body, you don't have a fixed relationship or personality that you can grow. Number two is to start asking yourself the question, “What am I making this experience mean?” And is this interpretation that I'm giving it? Is it helping me? Or is it hurting me? And if it's hurting me, how can I change my interpretation? Because that's in my brain, and that's something that I have control over. Number three is that when you have something happen, you're going to either get the result that you wanted, or the lesson that you needed, and both are valuable feedback. Remember, failures, just feedback, you either get what you want, or you get a lesson, let's make sure that we take away those lessons and apply them so that you can continue to fail forward. And then number four is looking at failure as evidence that you are closer to your goal. And recognizing that sometimes we have to just get through the failure because success is on the other side of the failure and just trying to avoid the failure isn't going to do anything for us because we have to get through it in order to get to what we actually want. So that wraps up this episode of Biceps after Babies Radio. I want you guys to really remember failure does not exist. And when you can go through life believing that failure isn't even a thing, it's just not even something that we like to bat an eye at. So when someone asks you, “What is something you fail at?” You're like, “Well, I don't know. Kind of like I was when Monica asked me that question. I can't think of anything that I failed at.” That's because you have reframed that experience as not a failure but as feedback that is going to make you better and it's going to help you to improve. I'm Amber, now go out and be strong, my friends because remember, you can do anything.
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