Cammie Jones of J Jones Consulting On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Recognize your fear. Consider what scares you. This allows you to acknowledge your feelings and stare them right in the face and continue to move towards your goals. In a lot of ways, your fears can become your motivation to achieve your dreams.

The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cammie Jones.

Cammie has spent the most of her 16 year career in higher education, where she has developed community engagement programs and departments while simultaneously teaching human rights courses on women’s rights. During the pandemic, she decided to start J. Jones Consulting, LLC as her department began to transition. Jones provides colleges, universities, and nonprofits with custom-designed solutions, strategic planning, and project management support for establishing and advancing equitable civic and community engagement strategies and initiatives that ensure institutions and community partners meet the needs of their communities.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Hello! Thank you very much for the opportunity! I felt it was time for a change of pace after a 16 year career as an administrator in higher education. I had spent so much time and effort developing programs, initiatives, and departments both domestically and internationally, yet I still felt something was missing in my life. I realized I wanted more balance, as well as a way to continue doing the work I value, which is civic engagement, leadership development, and women’s rights advocacy. My department was reorganizing, and I was seeking a new direction. Many of my family and friends believed it would be fantastic if I built something on my own. One day I started to write out what I wanted to do and submitted my application for an LLC. 2–22–22, I was approved and here we are!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I’ve learned that not every position will pan out the way you hoped, and that every opportunity comes with a season . As you progress in life, you realize that your career is only one facet of who you are. Now I’m very focused on my career and enjoy making plans but I’ve realized that not all plans go as anticipated, so you take the good with the bad and ask yourself, “What was the lesson I needed to learn here?” What effect has this had on my development? What will I not allow in my next role, and how will I ensure that the people I work with and support have a welcoming, safe environment? No matter what happens, you will always gain life lessons.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Empathy: As leaders, we may not always understand everyone’s circumstances, but we can show individuals care and compassion. It costs nothing to let someone know you see them, hear them, and want to see them thrive on all levels. This aids your development as a thought leader.

Wit: You have to laugh for the sake of crying sometimes, and I have to admit that I utilize my wit and sarcasm as a coping strategy to get through change or “set-backs” as they are called. When I get in my head or feel impostor syndrome creeping through, I realize laughing offers me joy and calms me down, and I believe it is healing when things don’t make sense.

Team player: I believe that being a team player is essential for success in any profession, including entrepreneurship. Nobody is an island, and you can’t move forward without establishing trust and transparency with like-minded people who are equally determined. Furthermore, the pleasure of learning from others is undervalued. It takes a lot of courage to be open to other points of view on topics of interest, and it’s better to be transformational than authoritative as a leader.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?

Based on my personal experiences and interactions with family and friends, I believe that fear of failure can result in shame, sadness, loss, blame, a lack of trust, and a misunderstanding of the road to take. Failure is terrifying because, depending on your circumstances, “failure” can have a negative impact on not just you but also those around you, leading to feelings of grief and anxiety. Failure can feel like a setback rather than an opportunity. We’re not thinking about the miracle that can happen when we’re rerouted; instead, we’re thinking about having to start over to learn what we missed and get to where we want to go. These are challenging emotions to experience, and they involve vulnerability and healing. We admire success stories, people who have overcome obstacles and succeeded. Nonetheless, in order to get to the mountaintop, it will require moments of the unknown and numerous transitions.

What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?

The downside of being afraid of failure is staying comfortable. You don’t grow, evolve or learn about who you are and what you can truly do on this earth. Being afraid leads to becoming stagnant and not opening your heart to the grace and opportunity that can come through manifestation and belief that you have a purpose and that your life can change . It can lead to you potentially not being true to yourself, which you deserve more than anything during this life!

In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?

Being free of failure allows you to surrender to the universe’s flow. When you allow yourself to flow with the energy and events in your life, your attitude to life shifts from “why me” to “what can I learn,” “how can I grow,” and “what am I being prepared to do in the next chapter.” Hope, opportunity, and personal growth flow from such a perspective. Being free of fear of failure helps you to attempt new things, be open to unexpected routes, and welcome new, healthy energy into your life, which has an impact on both your professional and personal lives. I’ve grown less afraid of failure and closed doors as I’ve gotten older, and instead get excited because I know it means the universe is conspiring to lead me to where I really need to be, my true life path.

We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us? During the pandemic, I took a professional opportunity that I considered to be my dream job.

After years of working in my profession to advance in higher education, I felt I had arrived at the mountaintop through accepting a great opportunity during the pandemic. In many respects, I thought this was it; I’d finally found my home and would be there for years. I was ecstatic, but then reality and life happened. Though I was successful in establishing wonderful initiatives, it was quickly evident that the role was not what I had anticipated.

I realized that my career path required a major change, and I felt like a complete failure. What had I been missing, I wondered? How could this happen to me at a time when I was making major life changes? What now? I was not only deeply embarrassed, but I also had a damaged heart and spirit in many ways. To preserve myself, I had to withdraw myself from the situation, which I had never done before. I was terrified beyond belief, but I knew I had to put my mental and emotional health first, so I chose to do what was best for Cammie.

How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?

I sat in my feelings and cried for days on my couch watching Cheer and Yellowjackets. I thought my career was a failure and I just allowed myself to weep. It was awful but I sat in it to gain insight on the shame and fear I was feeling. I then returned home to Dallas where my family gave me space to heal and recover. It was a difficult moment for me, and I was dealing with a deep degree of grief that I didn’t comprehend or know how to deal with. I continued going to my therapist on a regular basis, where I sobbed even more, but day by day, I began to ask myself, what do I want, what do I need, and whether this pause in my life was necessary. I’d been working constantly for years and when I glanced up, I was 36 and had a huge resume, but was I happy?

I realized it was alright to appreciate this moment and attract what I really desired after I started journaling and spoke to mentors. I gained the confidence to move on and pursue my own passions, such as teaching and starting my own business. It didn’t happen overnight, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t experienced the emotions! What I’ve discovered is that choosing yourself is the HARDEST decision you’ll ever make.

We live in a capitalist culture where we are here to do work for the sake of pleasing others, gaining respect, and being liked, often in the most toxic of situations. You become disoriented. Because we are humans, it is difficult and unfair. We all make mistakes, things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes a decision feels like a failure. When you pick yourself, it almost feels like the universe is conspiring against you or testing to see if you’re sure.

Nonetheless, I’ve learned that every experience is necessary, as it serves as a stepping stone toward understanding yourself and getting the wisdom you need to achieve your life’s purpose. I didn’t like the feelings of failure, trauma, and pain, but I’ve gained a level of compassion for myself and others that I didn’t have before, and I thank the universe for that. Those who are reading this should know that the universe is always on your side; all you have to do is surrender. Not every event will make sense, and you may even reach rock bottom, but when you do, you have no choice except to look up, and it is at that point that hope begins.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Hello my name is cammie jones and my pronouns are she her and im here to share the 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from fear of failure

  1. Recognize your fear. Consider what scares you. This allows you to acknowledge your feelings and stare them right in the face and continue to move towards your goals. In a lot of ways, your fears can become your motivation to achieve your dreams.
  2. Sit in stillness and listen to what your spirit says or what comes to mind when you pause and disengage. Such grounding activities will lead to you hearing your deepest thoughts and provide a sense of direction for where you’d like to go.
  3. Consider what freedom looks and feels like. Do you have a clear picture of your ambitions and dreams? Once you see your vision, your body feels and believes it and writing it down solidifies it.
  4. Form a justice league or a support group: Who are your accountability partners who will encourage you to try new things and live without fear of failure? These folx will be there for you through the highs and lows of learning.
  5. Go forth and take the first steps toward your dreams. This can take many forms for various people. It could be laying out your strategy, sending that DM on Twitter, calling a mentor, attending a networking event, or jumping on a Zoom, but strive to take the next right step, no matter how tiny, to build the momentum of being free from failure. Each step brings you closer to achieving your goal.

The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?

This quote makes me laugh because I used to think of it as succeeding in one aspect of your life while failing in others. After going through some major life changes during the pandemic, I have a different perspective on this quote. I can’t say I completely agree with Aristotle, because you won’t always obtain the result you desire in some situations, but grace and forgiveness can help you succeed in many ways. There is no single road to success or failure. Is rejection and not achieving the desired outcome also failure, especially if it leads to the right path?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d establish a movement to ensure that everyone had equitable compensation for equal labor in healthy, safe environments that are respectful and allow for all employees’ growth. Many talented people who love what they do are forced to leave their career aspirations and professions of choice due to income disparities, racism, ableism, sexism, fear, a lack of support and professional advancement, and other factors. Individuals desire to be recognized and valued. This would result in a thriving society and higher worker retention rates.

I’d also like to see an empowerment movement for young women in juvenile detention centers, assisting them in the reintegration process after their incarceration.Many young women are in desperate need of mentorship, guidance, and a second chance at life. A comprehensive program that guides them through community services and professional/personal development could not only reduce recidivism but also lay a solid basis for them.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

I have a five-year journal with prompts that asks me this question every year, and my answer is Oprah Winfrey. As I grew up in a community where I wasn’t sure if I could make it out, I rushed home after school to catch her 4pm shows to hear her wisdom and also gain a nugget of hope. She is my inspiration in every sense, from growing up in the South like me to becoming the first in her family to attend college and survive despite all odds. Oprah has built a community of care, spirituality, love, and hope for people all around the world through her vulnerability, and that is true leadership. Anyone can be a leader, but her compassion, understanding, and openness have propelled her to her current position as a world leader!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can learn more about my work on my personal website: http://jjones-consulting.com/ which includes my blog, as well as my Linkedin.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor