Rhonda Petit of 3x5 Coaching On Becoming Free from The Fear of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
If you lack faith, develop it with affirmations and auto-suggestion. Auto-suggestion is self-suggestion. All the beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes we hold today, we accepted to be true without any proof. If you want to experience growth and expansion you will need to allow yourself the ability to accept some new bigger ideas. Repetition is the mother of all learning. If you hear anything often enough, you will begin to believe it. When you develop faith, fear disappears.
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 Rhonda Petit.
Rhonda Petit is a Sales and Business Peak Performance Coach and the Founder and CEO of 3x5 Coaching, where she works with both corporations and individuals to grow, unleash, and activate more of their true potential and power. Her book, The Spirit of Selling: Using Universal Laws for Sales Success, contains actionable insight into the universal laws that govern successful selling. Visit her website or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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 grew up in the country hills of Pennsylvania and I majored in both chemistry and business administration in college. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit starting way back with organizing lemonade stands, babysitting, learning from my parent’s side hustle in Amway, and working in restaurants as a waitress. I loved science but always knew I wanted to be on the business side of things, serving the marketplace and enjoying the benefits of capitalism and free enterprise. My first position out of college was a straight commission sales gig as a headhunter for a few months before getting hired as an outside B2B sales representative in 1985 for a company named J.T. Baker Chemical, today known as Avantor. I’ve spent my entire career in sales and I love it!
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?
At age 40, I realized I would need to give up my management position at a Fortune 500 firm managing $40Million in revenues in order to be more available for my children. It wasn’t an easy decision. I was at the height of my management career as a District Sales Manager. Work had become my escape. I was earning a six-figure income as the family’s breadwinner and traveling often. The expenses at home kept increasing with the kids’ activities etc. and the more I worked, the less my spouse did. He became the stay-at-home dad and I was trapped on the hamster wheel.
Meanwhile, I was getting accolades and recognition for being “Wonder Woman” but it was costing me way too much personally. I deeply felt a loss of love and was missing time with my kids. My lack of self-expression at home to avoid conflict, please others, and keep the marriage and family afloat had me in a prison. Up until then I was trying to control things to look good on the outside, but I was dying on the inside. I had accepted duty as a way of life. I was exhausted, and felt like I was nothing more than an ATM.
I finally recognized that I was in a marriage of conditional love when I met someone who just enjoyed spending time with me without wanting or needing anything in return. I was amazed to learn that unconditional love DOES exist, and that it’s given freely no matter what. It has no “IF, THEN agreements or expectations. It is a desire to be fully present with the other just because you want to be with them. That’s what I was yearning for.
I made the decision to end my codependent marriage. I just pulled the ripcord and blew it up. I filed for divorce, and left my fortune 500 management position to work for a startup as an individual contributor. I was able to spend more quality time with my young kids who were eight and ten at the time and hit the restart button. It was the best decision of my life.
I lost the prestigious role but gained true love and more quality time to be present and available for my kids. I realized that I only had ten or twelve years left before they went out on their own and I wasn’t going to miss out on spending that time with them any longer. I chose love over duty, carried the cross, and did the transformation work necessary to become my authentic self. I became fully self-expressed and available to support and nurture my children.
What I learned from that experience is that failure is not fatal. You can always make a different choice if you need to course correct. I am responsible for my life, my feelings, and every result I have. Worrying, gaining others approval, and blame is a complete waste of time. My feelings are my emotional guidance system and I can feel them and let them go. I am designed to express energy, not to suppress it. What others think of me is none of my business. I am pursuing my dream, and others are free to pursue theirs.
I learned that it is possible to respect others’ opinions without having to accept those opinions for myself. To live and let live. All I have to do is use this phrase to be free, “That’s interesting. I see that’s the way you see it.” That sentence has two benefits. First, I acknowledge the other human being so they feel heard and understood and second, I gain a time of pause to choose my response. I’ve learned how to say yes to me, to give up control, let go, and trust in the process; that I’m not alone and the universe always has my back. I now know that when I have courage to unmask and be true to myself, fully self-expressed in my authenticity, I am able to serve the world more powerfully.
You are a successful leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Respect, humility and trust.
Can you please share a story or example for each?
When I was most successful as a leader, I embodied all three qualities; respect, humility and trust. Every time I failed, the culprit was my ego. Leaders get work done through people and focus on creation and cooperation instead of competition. Teamwork is essential up and down the line. No great achievement ever happens without cooperation of others. I have two stories to share.
In my second year of management, we merged with another organization and restructured the sales teams and regions. In the restructuring there were new teams, players, and personality dynamics. After the first few months working with my new team, I received feedback from one of my direct reports who had the courage to challenge me. He said, “Rhonda, you do a great job at managing up the chain of command, but you don’t manage down very well.” Shocked, I asked him to explain. He said, “We only win if we are all engaged. You need to get buy-in from the team, we need to feel understood, that our opinions are being heard and that they count. You can’t just dump on us what you hear from above or tell us how you see it.” Gulp.
He was right, as a young manager with no awareness of the principles of universal law at play, I assumed the title earned me respect. Not so. Respect must be paid forward to earn it. Leaders benefit by being both leaders and followers. Knowing when to be the originator of a new idea and when to be subjective to another’s idea that will contribute to the team’s success. I took his advice to heart and focused on what the team needed and how I could help them succeed.
That year we finished as the number one sales district at 121% over plan. At the national sales meeting, I was awarded District Sales Manager of the Year. The team was responsible for that award, not me alone. Teams that storm, norm, and perform develop their ideas from masterminding, taking in ideas from all the players to build one united front. It’s your actions and engagement with others that counts.
About 10 years later, I learned a similar lesson managing up. A reorganization happened midyear. The decision was made to revert from a previous merger of two divisions back into their separate entities. I was managing a life science team at the time and gained a new director from the Diagnostic division who was ten years younger than I. She ended up having to provide me with my full year review because my original manager had left the organization. The review was not pretty and I thought she was out to get me. Turns out she had the same perception of me — isn’t that interesting? The boomerang law at work again!
We had a heart to heart afterwards and realized we were both dragging past experiences and perceptions of our fears into the present. Have you ever done that? Something looks like what happened in a past relationship and your protection mechanism goes off with the “red alert” signals? The cure I found is to seek to understand. Have the sit down pow wow. Tell the person, “When you did X, I felt Y. I don’t like that feeling and am wondering if we can discuss this so you can help me understand what’s going on for you.”
That day I talked to my new manager, we developed a truce and started to work as a team. I supported her and she supported me. We were equal in each other’s eyes working toward a common goal. Titles did not matter. We gave each other the respect we both desired. I was having so much fun with my team that I forgot about the Inner Circle program. The Inner Circle program takes the top 10% of the company’s sales force on a paid vacation with their partners as part of the incentive compensation. It’s a great benefit and a big deal.
We were three months into the new year before the winners were announced. I was still having fun fully engaged in the new year when one of my direct reports called me on that Friday and said, “Rhonda! You are in the Inner Circle!” That April my husband and I went on an all-expenses paid vacation to Hawaii. Respect and humility applied yielded success.
Leaders who embody traits of respect, humility, and trust create an atmosphere where others feel at ease and appreciated. The easiest way to respect another is to look for the good. The Law of Polarity, also known as the Law of Opposites states there is duality in everything. When leaders get in the habit of finding the good everywhere they also find and see the good in themselves. And where your attention goes the energy flows!
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?
People are afraid of failure for multiple reasons; previous bad experiences, conditioning from their environment, perfectionism, the meaning they place on the word failure, and the list goes on. However, I believe the root cause stems from two things, ignorance or lack of faith and belief in a higher power.
Energy is coming to and through you every day. We all get the same amount; the question is what are we doing with it? It is being shaped by what we think about most. You are either thinking about what you want and how you can get it OR you are predominantly thinking about what you don’t want and why you can’t get it. Face it, if you always think about failure and why you can’t do something you will be stuck. STOP thinking about why you can’t and START thinking about why you CAN. Remember your past successes instead of the failures.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure?
There are many downsides to the fear of failure. The main one is settling and complacency, causing replacement. But this also leads to a lack of fulfillment, adventure, and joy. You won’t experience growth or the expansion of your spiritual essence. The longer you stay stuck, the more life gets sucked out of you.
How can it limit people?
Universal Law states you either go forward or fall backward; you either grow or die. I’m not talking about the death that puts you in the casket, I am talking about the death of your spirit’s growth and expansion. There is no neutral in life. The Law of Vibration states everything is always moving. Being afraid of change, risk or failure means you’ve gone as far as you will ever go. Nothing is sadder than seeing people die with their dreams stillborn.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the fear of failure can help improve our lives?
Be honest with yourself. Understand why you don’t have what you want. It takes courage to say, “this has to change!” Courage is the opposite of complacency. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Prepare to accept the worst and try to improve on the worst. Take action. Get all the facts. Recognize that everything new is always uncomfortable. When you learned to ride a bike or drive a car the first time, you were uncomfortable right? It’s all part of the awareness game.
Choose to be at the cause of your life and be an inspiration to others. Don’t allow anyone to steal your dream. When you are free from the fear of failure you not only improve your life but you impact and improve the lives of others around you. If you feel fear you are thinking about yourself. The fastest way to forget about you is to go provide someone service. You will have confidence. Confidence is when your soul’s essence merges with the Infinite Power to provide service for the greater good of all concerned. Confidence inspires others and helps you gain cooperation.
Each one of us has a gift the world needs. When we unmask our true authentic self and share that talent unconditionally with others, we experience true fulfillment and joy. Our gifts help us pursue and live from our passions with purpose; our talents allow us to live from our Dharma and do the important work we came here to do.
Last, when you are free from the fear of failure your creativity expands. You set goals, a direction to move in for growth and expansion to bring more of you to the surface. We are designed in the image of our creator and are here on this planet to create. Choices or decisions enable us to create from the contrast and the feedback. When our creativity is engaged, we experience bliss. Time stands still and we can enjoy the present, living in the NOW moment.
Failure is feedback to bring you one step closer to the success you desire. You always have the power to make a new choice. Look at your choices and decisions as a new venture to expand your awareness and grow you! Get comfortable being uncomfortable. As Will Smith states, “The other side of fear is true bliss!”
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?
There were two times in my career when I lost a job. Both were blessings in disguise. The first time occurred in 2014 and the second in 2019. In 2014, the Fortune 500 company I worked for went through a major re-organization and let go of close to 40 people in the middle management positions. I was one of them. Instead of it being a reduction in force, they stated the position I held after ten years of service and loyalty was being eliminated. I was eligible for a severance package. In 2019, after 18 months of service, my manager, the VP of sales, myself, and the other sales director were let go. The statement from HR was, we had to make some very hard decisions. They felt their product would be better served if sold by pharmaceutical doctors.
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?
The first time I rebounded and recovered by following my intuition. Prior to the separation, my intuition was telling me something was brewing. I started interviewing weeks earlier and had resigned myself to the fact that Danaher, who had acquired Beckman, wanted to train up a new management team that would embrace the Danaher way.
Being young and moldable was more important than leveraging experience and wisdom. I also recognized that I had hit a plateau doing the same routine as a Regional Manager for too long. As a result of listening to my gut and taking action I had a new job offer 10 days after my termination. The new position was with a smaller company who valued my wisdom and knowledge in a new field of informatics. The people were great and I enjoyed serving with them for a year and learned a lot. Afterward I was approached by an old colleague of mine with another opportunity to work for a small diagnostic firm with a larger earning potential which I accepted.
The lesson I learned from the first termination is that when one door closes, another one opens so don’t take it personally. Listen to your gut and take action with those ideas. Remember life is always happening for you, every change, contrast, and opportunity is a gift. Look for the good no matter what and you will find it. Refuse to become complacent.
The second time my position was eliminated I had taken steps to plan my second act after retirement to become a coach and run my own company. I earned my coaching degree at the end of 2017. I rebounded from the news by looking up at the sky and saying, “Okay I guess you want me to do this now instead of at 60?” I was completely calm and actually excited. I had never taken a break or sabbatical in 35 years. It was now my time, time to live my life on my terms.
The lesson I learned from the second termination is that it’s better to create your life by design versus default. Be the star in your movie, not a supporting cast in someone else’s movie. Do what you love. Work was made for you, to share your gifts, your natural talents. It’s how you earn your psychic income. Don’t stay in a job out of duty. Believe in yourself and recognize the power within. Security doesn’t exist out there, it comes from within you.
I now know that when I plug in and surrender to the Infinite Power aligned, for the greater good for all concerned I will never be denied. This transformation changed my life because I will never again face the fear of lack of money and resources. Through that transition and applying Universal Laws of service, circulation, and the laws of cause and effect I gained faith. Faith through understanding. And where faith is present, fear cannot exist.
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.
- Adopt an empowering meaning to the word “failure.”
View failure as feedback. There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. And if you do not learn the lesson, life will keep presenting it to you until you do. You see, life is always happening for you and me. Failure is nothing more than course correction. Success is never permanent and failure is never fatal unless you quit. Play the infinite game of life and enjoy it. Life is nothing more than an infinite game of lessons to grow and expand your awareness. Every new experience helps bring more of you to the surface.
2. Start asking yourself more questions and listen to the answers.
Let your intuition serve you. When you get those hunches, act on them. If you need to make a decision, ask yourself four questions:
1) Do I want this?
2) If I make this decision, will I be in alignment with universal law?
3) Will this decision move me towards my goal?
4) Will this decision be for the harmonious good of all concerned?
If the answer to all four is yes, make the decision and move forward! The more decisions you make on your own, the more your confidence grows and expands. Decision allows you to go forward or learn another lesson. Either way you win! Once you have that awareness you can never lose it.
3. Go to the Source for everything.
Believe in the Infinite power — the universe has your back. Trust is what we learn when we want to overcome fear. When you “take a leap of faith” and trust that your inner power is connected with Universal Intelligence, unconditional love, you bring forth courage and love that dispels the complacency and fear. When you live and work in alignment with universal law, you can’t lose. What you put out you will get back. Gratitude and praise are the coins of heaven. Trade expectations for appreciation. Gratitude places you on the receiving channel. When we are open to receive, the good flows towards us.
4. Always be grateful for what you have but never be satisfied.
Our spiritual essence is here to grow and expand. Set big hairy audacious goals to grow. Goals give you a direction to move in. Your job is to look for contrast and use it to create. You direct the energy and can create new bigger expansive ideas. Ask for help with humility and know it will be granted to you. Expect abundance. When you make choices based on what you want to create that is good for the harmonious good of all concerned, you are doing things in a certain way. When you live and work in alignment with Universal Law, your wishes will not be denied. Believe in an infinite supply. Supply only becomes finite if our thinking is constricted with limitations.
5. If you lack faith, develop it with affirmations and auto-suggestion.
Auto-suggestion is self-suggestion. All the beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes we hold today, we accepted to be true without any proof. If you want to experience growth and expansion you will need to allow yourself the ability to accept some new bigger ideas. Repetition is the mother of all learning. If you hear anything often enough, you will begin to believe it. When you develop faith, fear disappears.
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?
Success occurs when you are moving in a direction to grow your awareness and are living in alignment with universal law. To me that means you should give and share your talents and leave everyone you meet with an impression of increase. Look at life from your Sage perspective — that everything is either a gift or opportunity. Sometimes those opportunities are disguised as a challenge. Embrace the contrast given it’s an opportunity to create something new. In the process you will grow and expand, bringing more of you to the surface.
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. :-)
We just finished the year of the Great Resignation. I am excited about changing the culture of corporate America to one that recognizes their employees as their most precious asset and their professional development their strongest competitive advantage. We all have a secret genie within and the ability to transform and create a compelling future for ourselves by design instead of by default. I want to reach as many people as possible and empower people and organizations to realize their true potential and power and by doing so raise conscious awareness all over the world.
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 :-)
Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX. I heard her speak at a Tony Robbins function and I know she is passionate about her employees and recognizes them as her most precious asset and their development as her company’s strongest asset. She, like I, chose a sales profession for a career and she gets it, that we all possess the same asset — that people who succeed put their mind, their greatest asset to work by using it and the universe responds accordingly.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.