Lindsey Dinneen of ‘Life, But Better’ On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Recognize, release, and replace. When fear rises up, recognize that it’s there, release it out of your body and mind with a deep calming breath, and then replace it with a positive mantra. I like to use Gabrielle Bernstein’s affirmation, “I choose love instead” or the Biblical saying, “Perfect love casts out fear.” Sometimes, when we’re feeling intense fear, it’s not much help to just try and release it without giving yourself a mantra with which to replace those thoughts. Saying something positive like the mantra above changes your mood and energy and can help you overcome the icky feelings that arise with fear.
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 Lindsey Dinneen.
Lindsey is an entrepreneur, creator, learner, and dancer. She founded and is the Artistic Director of the professional dance company, VidaDance, is a Sales & Marketing Specialist for a contract medical device manufacturer, she creates online dance and wellness courses for Life, But Better, and she founded and owned VidaDance Studio for six years. She is passionate about helping women and men live their most healthy, successful, empowered, and inspired lives.
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’?
Absolutely! Thank you for having me. I have been dancing since I was four years old. After watching a video of “The Nutcracker,” I fell in love with the beautiful costumes, and my mom enrolled me in a ballet class shortly after that. I grew up mostly studying classical ballet, and in college at Mercyhurst University, I branched out to include modern, tap, and jazz while earning my BA in Dance. After college, I moved to Kansas City to dance professionally, and did so with various local companies for five years. I’ve been an entrepreneur at heart for a long time, but it wasn’t until seven years ago that I finally took the first steps towards becoming one. I was inspired to start my own professional dance company, VidaDance, not only to affect change in the dance world, but to affect change in the world with dance. Seven months later, I founded VidaDance Studio, with a mission to inspire confidence and joy through dance classes. In 2020, due to COVID-19, I switched gears with the studio to host only semi-private and private classes so that I could personally coach and mentor each student individually, and I ran that until the end of 2021 before my husband and I became full-time digital nomads. I am passionate about helping women and men live their most successful, empowered, and healthy lives.
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?
After spending several weeks building the sprung dance floor, we were ready to host our Grand Opening open house event. We had invited hundreds of people to attend, prepared lots of food, and ensured the studio was looking its shiniest. The morning of the event, I arrived a few minutes before Kevin did, since he was picking up bags of ice. The studio flooring (made from a laminate material) which had been perfectly laid the night before had somehow developed large bubbles. I stood there in disbelief, staring at the ruined floor. When Kevin came in, he quickly assessed the situation and placed the bags of ice on the bubbles, discovering that the heat from the morning sunlight had overheated the flooring, causing the bubbles. With that unexpected disaster behind us, we finished setting up the goodies and were ready for a successful grand opening. We waited all day — and only one family friend stopped by to say hello. It was the most Un-Grand Grand Opening imaginable. We learned two important things that day. One, make sure to test your handiwork way before it needs to be used. Two, it’s a myth that “if you build it, they will come.” More marketing and outreach would have been needed to make that event a success. Even though that one event was a failure, we still chuckle about that day years later — and it was one of the formative events that helped me to become free from the fear of failure.
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?
- Respect. I’ve lived by the Golden Rule of treating others the way you wish to be treated. I highly value the people I lead, and ensure that everyone is treated respectfully by me as well as by their peers. Treating people fairly and kindly, while helping them see and support their own potential to grow and elevate, is key in my interpersonal and professional relationships.
- Gratitude. I love expressing gratitude! It’s such a simple, easy thing to do — say “thank you” in person or via a note — but it makes a world of difference in the way people feel appreciated and valued. I once had a boss who thanked me every single day at work, and that has stuck with me about the way I want others to feel around me, too.
- Efficient. This is a big one to me — it is incredibly important to lead efficiently. Efficiency with people, time, and space allows for greater productivity, satisfaction, and results. I grew up with a mom who taught me there is always something that can be accomplished in the five minutes of waiting in between activities, and with a dad who never failed to find the best deals and tools to improve processes. Those lessons allowed me to hone my skills to be an effective, efficient 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?
There is a natural drive to want to feel and be seen as successful and accomplished in life. From an early age, we’re taught that achieving good grades is desirable, while receiving an “F” means we’ve failed. It’s embarrassing, it’s uncomfortable, and it holds us back. If we fail an entire subject, we must start over and redo all the work. You may have to explain why you’re repeating the subject, and that brings up the feelings of shame all over again. Society reinforces the idea that failing at anything is a reflection of who you are as a person. Instead of just failing at one thing, it becomes “you are a failure” like it’s a character trait you have. There could be many extenuating circumstances as to why someone fails at something, but regardless, it almost always feels personal. Eventually, we get so turned off by the idea of failing at anything that we develop a fear of it, and understandably so. Failure IS frightening — it has the potential to change our lives in unfavorable ways.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
There are so many downsides to the fear of failure. It limits people by not allowing them to live their lives freely, to go after their dreams and goals, to commit to relationships or to things that have too many unknowns. Being afraid to fail is ultimately about being afraid to risk. People are then limited by poor self-esteem, leading to negative self-talk, as well as a lack of motivation to even start a new endeavor. If people do get beyond their fear enough to get started, often self-sabotaging behaviors disrupt their progress and lead to perpetuating the feelings of being a failure.
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 the fear of failure changes everything! Suddenly, everything you do is about learning and exploring. Your identity and self-worth are no longer tied to your performance or lack thereof. You have confidence to try new things, chase after your dreams and goals, and take risks because fear is not holding you back. You are in charge of your life, your decisions, and even your feelings and emotions, all because you released fear.
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?
Oh my goodness, I’ve failed many times. One of the most notable to me was a very public one. I wanted to put the Kansas City dance community on the map in a unique way, as well as bring that community of people together for a common goal. I organized a World Record attempt. Everything seemed to be going so well — I was able to secure a fantastic historic venue for the attempt (for free!), got plenty of volunteers to help, followed all the World Record guidelines, and promoted the event to every dancer I knew and beyond. I was fortunate enough to get press coverage before it happened. The day came, and not enough people showed up. That’s an understatement. We needed 300. We got just over 100. What do you do in that situation? Everyone was looking to me, and not only was I incredibly disappointed, but I had just disappointed over a hundred excited dancers and a dozen volunteers who gave up their Sunday afternoon to join the attempt. Well, I rallied my spirits and the dancers, and we conducted the attempt anyway, setting a local Kansas City record that was later acknowledged by the mayor. I also taught a simple piece of choreography for the dancers to perform for the waiting crowd and record on video.
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?
As I’m writing this, I feel the same disappointment I felt then. What a shame it was to go through all that effort (and again, hours upon hours of work) for what seemed to be a complete failure. Here’s the thing, though. Instead of negative feedback, the community was surprisingly supportive. I even had several people come to me afterwards and ask to form a committee so that the next time we attempt a world record, I won’t be doing everything alone. By organizing the event the first time, I gained additional opportunities to show that I care about the community and wanted to do something for it. I also gained great name and brand recognition, which was especially helpful since my company and studio were new to the scene at the time. I learned that perspective is everything when it comes to how I look back on this “failure.” After all, I tried something no one had ever attempted to do in Kansas City before or since. Sure, it didn’t produce the desired outcome, but I did something brave and bold and I can be proud of myself for working hard and learning from the experience. I would always advise that when you go through a failure, after it’s over, take some time to process it either through journaling or meditation, and reframe the narrative to yourself as a success story, because you actually tried something. (More on that concept later on!)
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.
- Know that feelings aren’t facts. Feelings are just that — they’re temporary reactions to our changing situations. They’re completely unreliable when it comes to the truth, and they most certainly are not facts. Just because you feel like you can’t do something, or that you’re a loser, or that life is too overwhelming, doesn’t mean that it is the truth. The reality is that you can, that you’re not a loser, and that life only seems overwhelming. You should value your feelings as companions to your life journey, but not rely on them so much that you use them to form facts and opinions. They’re a response to stimuli — they are real, but they’re not truth. With that knowledge, I can be an observer to my feelings, instead of being confined by them. I can recognize that I may feel disrespected, and at the same time know that it’s very likely the person I thought disrespected me didn’t intend to do so.
- Know that feelings aren’t options, either. My husband talks a lot about how feelings aren’t options, either. What he means is that we often allow our feelings to dictate our behavior. “I don’t feel like getting up this morning” can translate into hitting the snooze button too many times and being late for work. “I don’t feel like finishing this project” could mean you miss an important deadline. To take this concept even farther, we must really be careful that we don’t allow our extremely negative feelings to become options for action. Depressed and suicidal thoughts, for example, if not checked, could potentially lead to some very incorrect conclusions and dangerous behaviors. Your feelings can come along for the ride, but they don’t get to change your journey.
- Treat fear as a passenger on your road trip. I decided early on in my career that when I felt fear sitting next to me, I would acknowledge its presence, but I would never allow it to take the steering wheel. It could even come along on the journey, but it was never going to be allowed to take over driving or even change the radio or temperature controls. It doesn’t get a say in how my journey unfolds. That allowed me to be mindful of when fear had a legitimate concern I needed to address, but it also prevented fear from making decisions “on my behalf” but without my honest consent.
- Recognize, release, and replace. When fear rises up, recognize that it’s there, release it out of your body and mind with a deep calming breath, and then replace it with a positive mantra. I like to use Gabrielle Bernstein’s affirmation, “I choose love instead” or the Biblical saying, “Perfect love casts out fear.” Sometimes, when we’re feeling intense fear, it’s not much help to just try and release it without giving yourself a mantra with which to replace those thoughts. Saying something positive like the mantra above changes your mood and energy and can help you overcome the icky feelings that arise with fear.
- When frozen by fear, reframe it as a tool. What do you do when you feel completely frozen because of anxiety or fear? Physiologically, having the gut reactions of anxiety and fear are part of our innate fight-or-flight syndrome capability. That means that, instinctually, your body is on your side when it comes to uncomfortable, uncertain, or downright scary situations. If you can reframe your gut reactions as “tools,” that means you can take them along in your journey as reinforcements, not as a hindrance or detriment, or something that paralyzes you, but as genuinely helpful resources to push you forward. It’s like making a mental checklist for yourself. “Laptop and phone? Check. Boss outfit on? Check. Car keys? Check. Physiological reinforcements up for the challenge? Check.” Use your anxiety and fear as helpful companions that are on your side in the fight to being braver, bolder, and better.
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’d like to completely reframe that narrative, because I think that quote’s message is rather contrary to what this interview is about. Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” In other words, the only way to fail is to not try. I always say there are many avenues to a dream. There are so many ways to succeed. There is no one right definition of success. You get to decide what success looks like for you. Is it a certain financial goal? Is it a happy marriage? Is it obtaining a position as a top-level executive? Whatever your dreams and goals are, there are multiple paths to success in those endeavors. To fail is only possible in one way — to not try at all.
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. :-)
After watching several documentaries and reading books on the massive positive health and environmental impacts of adopting a plant-based diet, I became convinced that this kind of eating is right for me so that I can achieve my goals of being both healthy and environmentally conscious. I would love to see a movement towards people learning about the benefits of plant-based diets for themselves and for the world, and just giving it a try to see how it affects their mood, energy, and well-being — let alone what it does to help save the planet!
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 would love to meet Jimmy Fallon. One of the things I admire about him is his amazing ability to exude such a high level of interest and warmth towards everyone he interacts with on The Tonight Show. That makes him a great talk show host, and I’d just love to sit down and learn about his journey to become a host, because that’s probably my greatest dream gig!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow my work at www.lifebutbetter.org, where you’ll find my blog, recipes, links to my online dance and wellness courses, and pictures of some of the whimsical artwork I’ve created. You’re also always welcome to email me at email@example.com. On Facebook and Instagram, I’m @lindseydinneenofficial.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s an honor and a treat. I’ll leave you with one more inspiring Thomas Edison quote: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.