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Reinventing Failure and Creating Courage with Sara Blakely

We often work with founders, entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, business advisors, investors, personal development coaches, etc. to help tell their story and connect with audiences. Their stories inspire us to create immersive and impactful animations to go deep into the narrative and come out the other side with lessons learned.

One little-known story as told by Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO of Spanx, a now $400m shapewear/apparel company, is a testament to her reinventing failure and creating courage.

Do you ever feel stuck in a rut with your life and the direction it is moving? For Sara, she realized the movie of her life that she was watching, was not the one she actually wanted to live. She wanted to do something different and realized that she had to change and grow in order to get there. Sarah was stuck in a job selling fax machines door to door, getting thrown out of office buildings, and feeling completely miserable. 

When Sara finally got the courage to turn her life completely around, she worked on herself by going to the library to find books and listening to tapes for reentering her energy and getting self motivated. She saw a lot of self help books that were missing one important thing – how to get the courage to start.

Sara explains that she is afraid of a lot of things, like heights, public speaking, and flying. 

So how do you get the courage to make a big change in your life?

For Sara, she realized that her father had actually given her the tools when she was younger. It’s all about failure and changing the definition of what that word actually means.

Failure is not about the unsuccessful outcome, but the reframed definition is about not trying. Not getting the outcome that you had hoped for is not a failure. This concept is genius and I can totally see the truth in it! You fail by not putting yourself out there and trying at all. If you don’t try something because you are afraid, that is the failure. 

Amazing things can happen when you just keep trying. Throwing yourself into the failure in order to find the opportunity is when doors open that  you least expected.  

Another way Sara Blakely has reinvented herself is by seeking out to embarrass herself. 

Why would you want to embarrass yourself?

Well, by doing it on purpose over and over again, it loses its power. The fear that holds you back becomes weaker. Embarrassing yourself on purpose creates the courage to do more.

Some ways Sara likes to seek out to embarrass herself are singing in an elevator with a bunch of strangers and also by asking silly and stupid questions because she is curious. 

She describes that letting go of the need to sound or look smart, embracing the failure, and celebrating the effort of trying, creates the opportunity for good things to start happening. Sara has figured out in her own way how to get the courage to change her life. She now has a multi-million dollar company, Spanx, and is living life to the fullest. 

Start small and look at something you are afraid to do. Try it out and embrace the feeling until it is no longer uncomfortable. Create the courage to go after your dreams. No matter how many times it takes, keep trying because then you are not failing.