lessons learned

Failure is an Option

On August 13 The Bravery Board is hosting a gathering on the topic of resiliency. One of the biggest indicators of how resilient you are is how you respond to failure. 

We've all heard the phrase: failure is not an option.

From what I can gather from the collective wisdom of the internet, this phrase originated in the movie fictionalization of the Apollo 13 space mission. If you haven't seen it, let me set the scene: There were several astronauts (including national treasure Tom Hanks) stranded in space. It was a life and death situation. Either the team worked together to come up with an innovative plan to bring them home, or they weren't coming home. The idea being communicated in movie-speak was, let's brainstorm all the possible solutions to the problem that result in survival. Any solutions with the expected outcome of failure are not solutions we will consider. It's Tom Hanks, people!

Fast forward to 2016, and it's you--not Tom--trying to survive. You've been handed a project at work, or you're doing a presentation in front of a group, or you're launching a new idea or business and apply that mantra: failure is not an option.

Does that really fit in a situation where the worst possible outcome is that you don't get what you want?

Are you stranded in space?

For most of us, failure is an option. In fact, in some situations it is inevitable. Imagine that the success of any endeavor is the result of work + chance. You can control exactly how much work you put into the endeavor, but the varying nature of chance is not something you can control. This will lead to your efforts sometimes resulting in success, and sometimes resulting in failure. There is nothing you can do about that.

You aren't stranded in space. You're doing something creative. You're doing something new. You're attempting to fix a problem. You're innovating and brainstorming. You do not have to have the same level of risk aversion as an astronaut.

Some people really must look at the options before them and set aside failure as not being one of them. However, most people get to leave failure on the table. It is unhealthy to throw ourselves into the same category as those dealing with life or death situations by exaggerating the negative impact that failure will have on our lives and careers. We misapply the fear of failure that organically and beneficially exists for a few select vocations to ourselves.

So what is a healthy view of failure?



Fear of failure is a mindset that leads to inflexibility and narrow thinking.

Failure is always an option, and often an inevitability.

When we are realistic about failure, our minds are free to brainstorm imaginative solutions and novel approaches. When we allow failure to dictate our self-worth, the mere idea of it haunts are decisions, influences our analysis of ideas, and impedes our ability to take risks. When we separate our self-worth from our successes and failures, we allow ourselves to learn, grow, and even thrive in failure.



Life will knock us down.

Failure is a tool that helps us learn to get back up. Failure in relationships, school and work assignments, in front of other people, and all those other little failures that threaten to crush our ego--they all prepare us for those bigger blows that inevitably find us. If we live our lives in a mindset of total risk aversion, we limit our ability to learn how to be resilient. We limit the power that hard knocks have to make us better thinkers, more stable emotionally, and individuals with a healthy perspective on work, self-worth, and the value of other people.



Imagine this scenario: failure IS the desired outcome.

What do you normally do while watching something fall to pieces in front of you? If you're not a welcomer of failure, your mind goes blank. Maybe you have an emotional response that prevents you from keeping your thoughts together. In the aftermath, you say to yourself: 

"That was horrible. I'm never trying that again!"

You block out the memory of the failure and pretend like it isn't now contributing to your view of yourself and the world.

But think about this: failing on a regular basis, in many different ways, will teach you to:

  • Keep your composure. Learn to appreciate the lesson learned from the failure so the results are meaningful instead of painful.
  • Bounce back quickly. Learn to disconnect your results from the equation of your self-worth. You are not a failure.
  • Learn from what didn't work because you aren't distracted with feeling sorry for yourself. Just the facts, ma'am.
  • Model graceful failure to others. Let your colleagues and others see you fail well. This may be the most important thing they see you do.

Failure as a strategy means you understand and embrace that it is almost always an option, and when it happens you are familiar enough with it to use it as a tool.


You will fail. It is a given. What isn't a given is how you will respond to that failure. Fail well.


This post originally appeared on Kate's blog. If you like it, there's more where that came from!

Living with enough: The Art of Simplifying Recap

35 or so of us gathered last Saturday and were inspired to simplify our lives. We talked about boundaries with others, boundaries with ourselves, shifting from scarcity to enough, and how simplifying our stuff does a whole lot more than making our house look tidy.

Ever since Michelle and Sarah spoke, I have been thinking about how I’ve grown to be very simple. My home is minimalist. I’ve done the whole “capsule wardrobe,” I’ve sold all the excess, and am learning to be very conscious about what I say yes to in my days. In the past year I went from a total yes-woman, to a “nah, no thanks, not for me,” kind of lady. All of it feels good.

The area I’ve noticed I over-indulge, however, is the online world of information: the constant need to be absorbing information, learning, growing, and hearing the perspectives of others.

I listen to an average of 2 podcasts a day as I cook, clean, and work online. I also am a part of 5 facebook groups, read numerous blogs, always have a book in hand, and follow experts in my field on every social media outlet. I consume information like nobody’s business.  

There are so many voices coming at me every day, it’s hard to know which ones are the ones I should invest my time into. Some of them give contradicting advice and I find myself in opinion-information overload! The catch: it’s hard to know it’s even a problem, because hey, at least I’m eager to learn, right!?

Not right.

My “desire to learn” is wrapped up in my mindset that I don’t know enough to start, that I am not educated enough, and that I must learn just a little more if I want to be be an expert in my field. It’s scarcity. It’s lack. Nothing is ever enough- myself included.

The things in life we over-consume can hold us in bondage;

whether it be appointments, work, projects, clothes, education, even food.

If you find yourself living in over-consumption, examine your motive. Is your heart whispering,

Not enough, not enough, not enough, or I have everything I need?

If you’re like Michelle, maybe you need to cut back on the busy and just be still with yourself-

You are enough.

If you’re like Sarah, maybe you need to declutter and get rid of stuff room by room-

You are enough.

If you’re like me, maybe you need to select your intake elegantly and just take action.

You know enough-



Presentations are on the Podcast

More photos

Gathering Giveaway provided by Courtney of Always Rooney!  photos by  Jenn Fortner  &  Karen Beiler

Gathering Giveaway provided by Courtney of Always Rooney!

photos by Jenn Fortner & Karen Beiler

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4 ways to meet your baseline needs + a little story about failure

Image taken by Sarah Stracke

Image taken by Sarah Stracke


It all started last Thursday. I’d worked 6 days straight, launched The Bravery Board, worked out every day that week, and was feeling a cold coming on. I woke up and asked myself if I should go to the gym. I refused to be lazy and went, despite all signs saying no. After all, working out made me feel good, and I didn’t want to regret not going.

By the end of the day, I was crabby and irritable. I realized I hadn’t eaten much, and vegged out on an unusually unhealthy dinner because I was so tired.

By Friday afternoon I was feeling lethargic, sassy, and down.  

“Am I bitter at someone?!”

“Is my mindset off?”

“Where am I not honoring myself.”


My body was screaming at me to slow down.  It wasn’t mindset, it was much more simple than that. I had neglected my baseline needs, and when those aren’t met, all hell breaks loose.

I took a 2 hour nap that afternoon. (If you know me, you know how much I resist napping!) Once I woke up I felt really silly for not listening my my body and for over thinking my basic needs. I knew in my gut what I should do, but I pushed through because I thought I was the exception. I was trying to cure a physical issue with metaphorical mindset shifts and positive thinking.

The truth is that you can’t meet your deeper needs if the small, baseline things aren’t met. Sometimes, you guys, it is as simple as food, sleep, and water. Sometimes it isn’t about mantras and meditation. Sometimes you’ve just gotta eat a sandwich and take a nap.

Here are my 4 tips for meeting your baseline needs so you can thrive.

  1. Know what you need

The best way to meet your baseline needs is to know what they are. How much sleep do you need to feel most alive and alert in your day? How long can you go between meals without getting lethargic and hangry? How much time can you spend with others without getting short and snippy?

  1. Be intentional

Once you have a clear understanding of what you need, you can start to be intentional with these. My food fail last week was that I did not purchase food when my groceries ran out. I was living off snack foods and busyness, which does not make room for nutritious meals. Maybe this means meal prep, planning workout days, rest days, and alone time. And maybe it means going to bed and not watching that 6th episode on Netflix at 2am…

  1. Be honest with yourself

What can you actually handle? Have you been true to yourself? It’s good to remember that you are a person with a body, a body that needs food, rest, sunlight, water, and love. You are not a machine, you are not the exception. You are human whose needs to be celebrated and honored! Be honest with yourself.

  1. Remember it’s about nourishment

It is always about nourishment. We don't eat, workout, or wake up early to get ahead, change shape, or be better. We do those things to nourish our body and spirit, and when we come from a place of nourishment, we actually become better.

It really is as simple as taking care of the simple things like rest, food, and movement. When I meet those baseline needs, I am better in all areas. Be your best by taking care of your baselines this week.

April 9 (this Saturday) we are hosting our first event!  Go snag your ticket!


Read more from Madison at her blog. 

What I’ve learned so far: what they don’t tell you about following your passion.

Image taken by Kinsey Mhire

Image taken by Kinsey Mhire

What I’ve learned so far: what they don’t tell you about following your passion.

I am a life coach, I own my own business, I am paving the way to my dreams every day through blogging, using social media, and taking new clients. It’s growing steadily and I am SO happy about it.

But there is a side I also want to address. In reality, businesses like coaching take time. Building a brand and becoming known for what you do is a slow and steady building of momentum. If you are not careful when launching a passion project, you can get burnt out before you even truly begin.  Building a reputation, being consistent, and becoming amazing at your trade--these things take serious hustle. But that’s not what I’m going to post about today.

Here are three areas people rarely talk about when they discuss their passions:

Know your bigger life theme.

I know my passion. And it isn’t coaching. My passion is a deeper life theme, it is the thing I want my life to be about. Some business people call it your “why” or even your “vision.” I like calling it a life theme because no matter what I do, I want the same theme to be the thread that weaves through each season, each career, and each relationship.

I wrote out my own personal life theme recently and this is what it sounds like, “to live my life in vibrancy, truth, and authenticity, and help others come alive.”

I can and will do that in many ways throughout my life. In this season, I do it through coaching and blogging. But I also do it as a wife, as a waitress, and as a friend.

My life theme helps me show up in all areas as my best.  I know what I want my life to reflect, so I am able to show up at my serving job AND as a coach and be my best. I can help people come alive no matter where I am. I can live in vibrancy, truth, and authenticity no matter where I am, and that gives me credibility.

Be your best.

Being your best is tricky and relative. Our best changes from season to season, and we are able to give different amounts at different times. That is normal, human, and expected. The key is not to be perfect, but to strive for excellence; for your best in the moment you are in. I am always attempting to act as my best self, to filter my response through the lens of my life theme.

Being your best self on purpose is actually a skill. It takes the ability to self reflect without judgement, be thoughtful and assume the best, and it takes self control. It is choosing to respond in the most loving, mature way you can.  It is aligning your life with your values and your life theme. It is honoring your yes and your no. It is you becoming better with small choices every day, choosing healthy thoughts, and mature actions which align with your life theme.

Become a Servant.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it!? Be a person who offers an insane amount of value.  You can start doing this in areas like at home, at the office, or in your passion project.  Something I am committed to in my business is offering educational, inspiring and relevant content for free to the people who read my blog and are on my email list. This does sometimes come at a sacrifice. It takes time, it takes consistent growth on my part, and integrity of living what I put out into the world.

What does this look like in your life? How can you be a person who offers value?

What ways can you bring value to your daily life, in and outside work?

Here are a few simple ideas anyone can implement today to be successful at following your passions

1. Be interested in people.

This means asking questions, listening well, commenting back on social media platforms, and thanking people for the good you see them doing. Pay attention, people are always communicating ways they need you.

2. Give more than is asked of you, or do what you do with excellence.

Consider how you can go above and beyond a person's expectations. One way I do this is by remembering birthdays or other important dates and sending cards, flowers, or texts. Be creative with what you do, and who you do it for. A short list would be friends, clients, and supporters, but you could even extend this to service personnel, your neighbors, your co-workers, and even former teachers and employers.

3. Know your deeper reason.

The hustle of following a passion is real, but the reality of knowing the deeper reason behind your life, the growth that comes from being your best, and the magnetic pull people feel toward people who offer value, that is the good stuff.

Try it out, your hustle may become much more enjoyable, and much more passionate.

Read more from Madison at her blog.