Jaime Taets of Keystone Group International On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Realize you have the power of choice — I think about and utilize this all the time. When I am uncertain about a choice or decision I’m going to make, I release some of the pressure by telling myself that if the choice I make is not the right one, I have the power to make another choice at any point. Reminding myself of my power of my own choices makes tough decisions a little bit easier.

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 Jaime Taets.

CEO, public speaker, author, podcast host, and thought leader… in every one of these roles, Jaime Taets helps people reach their potential. She isn’t afraid to have “get real” conversations about the things that often limit people from achieving success. Harnessing her own leadership experiences, she inspires frank and sometimes challenging discussions about the crossroads between high-performance and healthy change. Ultimately, her solution-focused insights help people go from stuck to success every day — at work, home, and in their personal lives. Jaime is CEO of Keystone International Group, host of “Superpower Success Podcast,” and a keynote speaker. She, her husband, and their four children live in Minnesota.

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’?

I did my apprenticeship in Corporate America in a Fortune 100 size business and after 13 years of traveling globally for work, I decided to leave my corporate role to take everything I had learned and use it to help impact small and mid-market businesses and their leaders grow. Jumping off the cliff into the world of entrepreneurship was a risk, but my corporate career and the amazing training and experience I received helped me do it with confidence (but also a healthy dose of fear). And since then, I have been growing as a leader and helping my clients grow at the same time.

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?

One of the first moments in my career that was hugely impactful to me was when I started working for a true servant leader. I was in my late 20s and I took a new job under a leader whose focus was to grow me and help me get further than even he wanted to get. I vividly remember the day that he told me that he was going to report to me one day — and he was serious. It was the first time I had a leader who wasn’t afraid or threatened but instead wanted to see me accomplish big things. I will never forget that day or that lesson and it has been the biggest impact on my own leadership style — I am driven by helping others succeed.

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?

  1. Curiosity — I have so many examples where just being curious — about people, about business and growth has served me well. I learn something every day and I attribute that to my curiosity. It’s why my clients hire me to help them scale their business, because I will always ask them different questions to help shift their thinking.
  2. Vulnerability — this was something that I had to build as I grew in my career, but it always felt natural to me to share my thoughts and share my stories of both success and failure. Now, as the CEO of my own company, this is one of the most important attributes for my team. I want to model vulnerability for them so they feel comfortable showing up in that way both with our team and with our clients.
  3. Approachability — I have a strong ability to build trust quickly with people — both within my organization and with my clients. It helps me develop deeper relationships faster and it allows them to open up easily so we can discuss the strengths and opportunities in front of us in an honest and authentic way.

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?

Failure is a tough word. I write about it in my book as I vividly remember a time when I was at a women’s networking event discussing a “failure” I had, and a woman stopped me in the middle of my story in front of everyone and told me to stop using that word. She said that she doesn’t believe in failure, that I shouldn’t be using that word, because I’m not a failure. It was an interesting perspective, yet I completely disagree with her, and I also believe this explains why people are so afraid of it. Because they see failure as negative. For people that work in Innovation or R&D, they live their lives in failure, because if they don’t fail, they can’t adjust their approach.

I didn’t realize it until that moment that I don’t have the same fear of failure as others. It hasn’t always been that way, but I’ve built up enough resiliency muscle to realize that failure isn’t fatal, and most of the times that I have failed, I’ve learned something that helped me adjust my course and allowed me to end up where I am today. I now coach leaders to have gratitude for failure and ask themselves — What is this preparing me for?

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

It’s really about the word afraid. When I speak, I often start by asking one question.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

It forces people to think differently about their fear and really assess where fear is the ultimate thing that’s holding them back. The only way that you can truly fail is when you don’t try at all — when you stay in the same place you are today, not bringing your talents and gifts to the world in the way they should be. Fear impacts so many of us in so many more ways than we realize.

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

I don’t believe you can ever become free of fear of failure or anything else. Fear is something that we are hard wired to have as humans as it protects us in certain situations. When I work with leaders, I talk about learning the skills to recognize the fear — I believe that when you can recognize it sooner, you are able to lesson it’s impact on your decisions and ultimately your life. Fear is something that is managed, not eliminated. I experience fear on a regular basis, but I now recognize it for what it is and it doesn’t have such an impact on my life as it once did.

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?

In my book I share a lot of stories where I have struggled and failed. I think the thing that stands out for me as my biggest failure is around my first marriage. I struggled a lot with who I was, who I wanted to be and spent too long being all things to everyone else instead of listening to what I needed and wanted, it had an impact on my marriage. If I had the skills around fear and vulnerability and knowing how my mindset affected my life, I would have been able to manage things better. It’s a hard one to live with, but I also believe that I had to go through it to grow to be the person I was supposed to be — the person I am today.

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?

Listen, Listen, Listen to your body, to your intuition. I call it my rumble strips — like the things on the side of the road that jar you when you hit them, I believe that we all have rumble strips that happen when we are off course, when we are supposed to take that chance, make that change. But most of us ignore it, we push it down and don’t do anything about it until it’s so loud that it’s a drastic change. So, my advice is to listen. You don’t have to make a change just because you feel something, but you should pay attention to what it’s telling you.

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.

  1. Realize you have the power of choice — I think about and utilize this all the time. When I am uncertain about a choice or decision I’m going to make, I release some of the pressure by telling myself that if the choice I make is not the right one, I have the power to make another choice at any point. Reminding myself of my power of my own choices makes tough decisions a little bit easier.
  2. Pay attention to the voices — I have realized over the course of my life that there are times when I listened to voices that kept me in fear instead of supported me to move forward. Often our family, friends, colleagues are not the right people to discuss our fear or a big decision that we are dealing with. They have a different risk profile than we do, and it’s important that we listen to the voices of people who have done what we are trying to do, not people who are adding fear to the situation.
  3. Use fear as your catalyst — Get stubborn. When you feel fear, instead of pulling back, take a step forward. Use the fear as your catalyst to change, to make a different decision, to act. As you walk towards the fear, you are going to see that it’s not as big as you think it is.
  4. Look for clues — I believe that success leaves clues. So, when you are feeling fearful, focus on the clues that are pointing you in the right direction. Pay attention to what feels right, what your gut is telling you and pay attention to the ideas, people and opportunities that are around you at that time. Success kills fear, so shift your focus and it will minimize the fear.
  5. Lean on your Superpowers — All of us have a unique set of superpowers that have contributed to our success. When fear is present, focus on your unique superpowers, find ways to utilize them more and the fear will diminish. When we are maximizing our unique gifts, our confidence increases, and our fear subsides.

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?

I think he meant that moving forward even through failure and fear, is success. That success is not this huge accomplishment, or the top of a mountain, it’s moving forward in the face of fear. I could not agree more.

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 wrote my book to help create a movement around embracing the feeling of being stuck. I challenge people to think about being stuck as a great place to be, because it is your catalyst for change. When you feel stuck, it causes emotions that make you want to take action in a new direction. So, just like fear, when we embrace the stuck points, the fearful points in our lives, we reduce the power they have on our lives and instead use that power to move ourselves forward.

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 :-)

Simon Sinek. It’s the answer I give anytime someone asks this question. My values align so directly with his and his words, books, podcasts have helped develop me as a leader in my organization, with my clients and in my community.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find out more about my company, Keystone Group International at www.keystonegroupintl.com and you can find out more about my book at my personal site, www.jaimetaets.com

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