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How I Bounced Back After Failing (And You Can Too!)

Elizabeth Colella's picture

How I Bounced Back After Failing (and you can too!)

This past week I had a great time leading a workshop on developing authentic confidence. It was a delight to work with such open and kind people.

Preparing for that event got me thinking about my own confidence, and how far I’ve come in that department. For me, growth happened after I began working through my feelings around shame (an ongoing process, for sure).

Shame is an emotion. A feeling. A moment in time. It can pass by quickly, or it can get stuck, fester, and block the real you from showing up. It comes down to perception, what you focus on, and what you choose to believe to be true about yourself.

Can you identify any heavy emotions and beliefs about yourself that are blocking the real you from emerging?

I absolutely loved coaching training. I gobbled up the bits of personal development wisdom from mentor coaches, and I enjoyed honing ways to help people get honest about who they are, what they want, and how to propel forward.

I received positive feedback from mentor coaches and a number of satisfied coaching clients. My energy was high and before I had even graduated the program, I was easily attracting clients.

That’s why I figured I’d pass my final coaching exam with flying colors…

And then it happened.

I failed.

And to be clear, as a recovering perfectionist, failing was not something I did often. But I understand now that this perceived setback was exactly what I needed.

If you lean into an experience, what may seem like an earth shattering setback just might open the door for a stronger version of yourself to emerge.

Of course, a supportive group of coaches would never use the word fail. After feedback about how I was doing more work on the call than the client, it was more like… “you have the opportunity to process our suggestions and try again.”

But despite passing the second time around, I was embarrassed. Ashamed. And for a while there, I lost my coaching mojo. Although I continued coaching clients, for months I could feel my coaching energy had changed.

I was carrying around a heavy, judgment-laden secret and feeling like a failure. The authentic confidence I felt during coaching training was temporarily shutdown. Hiding my truth blocked me from accessing my own greatness.

What truth are you ready to step into?

Enter Brene Brown (check out her TED talks here and here), a researcher who studies shame, courage and vulnerability. Dr. Brown teaches that vulnerability is about “being seen” as your whole self and she states that, “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

I got real with myself by getting to the root of the “not good enough” feelings the coaching final kicked up that had long been part of my story. Embracing my imperfections instead of judging myself harshly for them certainly was not easy at first, but over time, doing so became freeing. This shift paved the way for a huge turning point.

I realized that being of service to others isn’t about being perfect, or even following a conventional coaching format. In fact, when I began showing up to coaching conversations as my whole self, not just the “coach that I should be,” magic started happening. Once I stopped trying to fit the image of the larger than life corporate coach, I became available to help people create real change on their own terms.

I stopped doing, and I started being. Being real. Being of service. Being ready to listen. Being myself.

By getting clear on the strengths I bring to the table, I developed my own sense of self, separate from what others thought of me. This is when I began to feel my inner sassy coaching diva coming back. By showing up stronger for myself, I was able to do the same for others.

So, tell me. In what areas of your life could vulnerability add richness to who you are and what you do?

With appreciation for new perspectives and faith in all you can be,



Elizabeth Colella's picture

owning it

Hi Louise,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! I just read your story, and wow--that takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that. So brave. :-) I am sure you're helping a lot of people with the work you do.

Take good care,

Elizabeth Colella's picture

owning it

Hi Louise,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! I just read your story, and wow--that takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that. So brave. :-) I am sure you're helping a lot of people with the work you do.

Take good care,

louise pontin's picture

owning it

Beautiful post Elizabeth. I LOVE brene's stuff, her quotes about 'owning your story' were part of what inspired me to just write my own 'coming out' piece about having depression. Its pretty scary, but I really resonate with your line about hiding from your own truth was blocking your greatness - I felt the same way about mine! (If you're interested you can read it here: http://thewholehealthconnection.com/im-coming-out-of-the-depression-closet/ )
Louise x

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