Breaking the Curse of Failing

This episode is all about failure. The thing you probably want to avoid the most! In the last episode I talked about how letting go of your fear of failure would transform you into a truly courageous performer but how can you do that? How can you stop being afraid of failure and instead empower yourself to connect with your audience more and actually help yourself be a better performer?

I'll tell you how you can do this and more.....

Podcast Titles (1)

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Breaking the Curse of Failing

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi, welcome to this episode of the Courageous Performer I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice. It's really interesting because I'm, I'm obviously trained as a life coach and I've had an interesting week because so many people think, 'Well, you're a life coach, you have your life sorted, everything's in order.' and if only life were that simple, and one of the big things that I've learned as a life coach is about the power of leaning into my emotions.



So many people find emotions scary, especially in the context of performing because they don't want to be overwhelmed by their emotions, in their performance, and they want to be able to keep a lid on them and control them. And I have a completely different approach to that, and I apply that in my life, and so this week, I've been doing a lot of leaning into my emotions, which isn't easy. I don't care if you're a life coach or anything else, it's not, or anything else at all, it's not easy, leaning into your emotions and just feeling them. Yeah, leaning into the happy ones is good and fun, but that can feel scary toom leaning into the the sad ones, or the more challenging ones, it can be painful. But it really does help me process it all and that relates to what I want to talk about today. Because today I want to talk about failure.



In my last in the last episode, I talked about what it takes to be a courageous performer, and how it's so important to not be afraid of failure, but didn't really dig deep into what failure is. And I think failure is something we so often want to avoid because of that, because of the feelings associated with it. Because of the feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of shame, and that, actual sometimes physical, pain, from feeling like you've really messed up.



That failure is entirely subjective. It's a little bit like rejection. If you're looking for it, you'll find it, and I will talk a bit more about rejection in a future episode. Today, I really want to concentrate on failure, and as I say, if you're looking for failure, you will find it because you get to define what failure is. And failure has that kind of full stop feel to it. You failed, boom, that's it, and that leads to so many negative aspects. And if you take anything from today's episode, it's that failure is something you get to define, what it is and what it isn't.



For example, for some people, and for some of my clients, you know, having a note crack, a high note crack is so painfully embarrassing that they define it as failure and then and that's too much, and it's too much for them to carry on. Whereas for other people of note cracking is kind of fine, it happens sometimes. For some it will be not getting a job. For others, it will be saying something that they think is stupid. For some it's forgetting words or, or tripping over words, and they really failed in that. And the truth is, it's only a failure if you call it a failure. And if you call it a failure, it has that shame associated with it, it has that full stop feeling, and it's so much harder to analyse it and make use of what went wrong, because it hurts so much.



So the first thing I would say is how about downgrading your failures to being mistakes. Because mistakes are things that we make we make all the time, and they they can feel less full stoppie than failure. They can still feel really hard and as embarrassing. And it's interesting, because, so my youngest son, Freddie, was talking about playing his clarinet and he wasn't practising his clarinet. I was like, Freddy? What's the reason? You're not practising practising your clarinet? He says, 'Because I can't play.' I said, 'You can play you play lots of lovely tunes.' He said, 'Yeah, but I can't play as well as I want to.' And it becomes really obvious when you put it in that context, because of course he can't play as well as he wants to. He's, he was nine at the time he's 10 now. He hasn't played the clarinet for very long. He's not going to play as well as he wants to if he wants to play as beautifully as his teacher plays, and the only way he's going to get to play as beautifully as his teacher plays, is by practising, is by playing is by trying or having lessons. Working out what goes well, how to make improvements. It's by playing. And that gives a context of the whole thing, because mistakes are the lifeblood of improvement.



We don't generally learn as much from what we get, right? Although I do say it's really important for us to acknowledge what we do well, and what we get right, because we can then bank it. And if we can treat mistakes in the same way, it's like, okay, I'm making this mistake at the moment but that doesn't mean I'm going to carry on making this this mistake, how do I work, what do I want to change, what muscles do I have to stretch, what neural pathway do I want to build, so that I don't, I'm less likely to make that mistake in the future? Because we can't obviously control it to that extent. And that's what mistakes can give us. Mistakes, show us the next place, where we're going to focus our attention to make improvement. So that's number one.



Number two is, once you don't fear, making mistakes, you're free. It frees you, as I said in the last episode, this is what allows you to be truly courageous. And you're free for for three main reasons.



Firstly, if you are not worried about making mistakes, mistakes don't take up all your attention. Preventing them happening, doesn't fill your head, and as I like to say the fastest way to forget your words, is to try and remember them. Because all you have in your head when you're trying to remember your words, is the sentence like 'What's the next line what's coming up? I can't remember them, how do I....?' and instead of leaving space for your subconscious to throw up those words, you fill it with the worry that you're not going to remember words. And that makes it so much harder to remember them. So, if you don't worry about making mistakes, when you're in the performance, it gives you space to really lean into the performance because your attention is not being drawn away by trying to prevent them.



Number two, if you're not worried about mistakes, and you're not embarrassed by them, and you're not embarrassed that you've made a mistake, because mistakes will happen. It doesn't matter how good you are great performers are not the ones who minimise their mistakes, they they're the ones that maximise their brilliance, and if you stop being embarrassed by mistakes, it gives you the space to get back on the horse really quickly. Embarrassment takes our head to a different place and it's much much harder to find our place, get back on track, or even see the potential brilliance that could come out of what was, in inverted commas, mistake. Maybe it was the best thing you ever did, saying that thing, or making that Freudian slip, doing something in a certain way that you've never done it before. Maybe that was a touch of genius. And if you're not embarrassed about about it gives you the space to recognise, recover if necessary, or capitalise on what's just happened.



And finally, and this relates to both of the previous ones. If you are not afraid of making mistakes, or having made a mistake, it keeps you in the present, which keeps you flexible and are able to respond. It keeps you in the moment, you're not thinking or worrying about the mistake you just made. You're not worrying about what might happen in the future and trying to control that. Which means you can be in the room, present and connecting with your audience. And that frees you to give a much better performance.



It's about forgiving yourself in the moment. That doesn't mean you don't want to improve. It just means you're not going to beat yourself up and focus all your attention on that negativity. It's like 'Okay, that happened, boof, move on. And this gets you back to this idea of mistakes being the lifeblood, you know. If we're not ashamed of our mistakes, if we go 'Okay, that happened, I don't really one that to happen again, so what do I want to do to, as I say, build that neural pathway, stretch that muscle, flex that muscle, strengthen that muscle, so that I do differently in future, or maybe so that I recover better in the future? How do I deal with that differently? You can really capitalise from the learning, on the learning. If you're ashamed of your mistakes, it's so much harder to actually lean into the analysis and grow from what went wrong. If you're hard on yourself, it's harder to be light and kind and make space for improvement. Being hard on yourself creates this tension and restricts both your mental space, your emotional space, and restricts your physical capacity to relax and do a better job. And, and really find improvement and stretch your comfort zone, stretch skill zone.



So there are three things I'd really like for you to take away from this episode. The first is to remember that you get to define what failure is and is not, and that's even if somebody else has an opinion of over whether you fail. That's just their opinion, you get to define whether something is a failure. And if you define it as a failure, it will be restrictive, and if you say no, that's not a failure, I'm going to define it as something else, then it's expansive, and you can grow and move on from it, and you're less likely to not put yourself out in future. If you define it as a failure, it's harder to put yourself out there again. So number one, you get to define whether something is or is not a failure.



Number two, redefine things that you thought were failures as mistakes. And remember that mistakes are the lifeblood of improvement. There where we go 'Okay, that's a next bit I want to work on, that's the space I want to go to.



And number three, free yourself by forgiving yourself. That doesn't mean you won't work to improve. In fact, it will give you the space, the headspace, the emotional space, the physical capacity to improve with greater ease.



Okay, well thank you for listening, I hope. I hope you've taken a lot from from today's episode. I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice, and I look forward to speaking to you in the next episode.