Sasha Laghonh of ‘Sasha Talks’ On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
You have everything you need to succeed. There is nothing missing from your life. Everything outside of you from resources to tools serve as a supplement. Your greatest asset is your mind. Feed it well with your beliefs, knowledge, lifestyle choices and self-esteem. The mind is neutral, we breathe life into it by what we surround ourselves with 24/7. The mind can be an ally or an enemy. It goes where you direct it to go. Are you walking the dog, or is it walking you?
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 Sasha Laghonh.
Sasha is the Founder of Sasha Talks, an educational and entertainment platform that integrates self & professional development into nurturing meaningful outcomes. As a speaker, mentor and author, she partners alongside clients, from individuals to organizations, to capitalize upon their talent. Through her work as a strategist, speaker, and author Sasha strives to make a real difference to every aspect of her clients’ goals. Learn more at www.sashatalks.com.
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 host a business background entertaining a wide variety of prior roles that contributed to the bottom line ROI for third party organizations. Whether I was working in client facing environments to business engineering, there was always an opportunity to learn and acquire a fresh perspective to produce better deliverables whether it was for the end clients or internal employees. Having invested in specialized roles from business development to serving as an Executive, I can better assess whether an organization’s decision (and action) will produce any progress. Society has a tendency for misinterpreting movement for progress when in reality those are technically two different things. Some third parties view me as a business strategist or a ‘fixer’ who will arrive on the scene and provide feasible solutions to mitigate ongoing challenges. The right audiences value my unfiltered approach to working because organizations can benefit from a reality check. I’m often sought to address challenges that reside within the operations, human resources, legal, and the entrepreneurial realm. When I had outgrown my previous roles, I decided it was time to create an endeavor where I can continue developing myself as a person and professional. Sasha Talks is a result of my years of experience working in several different industries representing a variety of entities in their respective sectors from start up organizations to established entities hosting different genres of operational structures and end clients. When engaging in business strategy, one size doesn’t fit all. This is the reason why I keep returning to the playing field because new challenges demand fresh approaches to developing custom solutions for progress leading to success.
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 would say it’s more of a ‘lesson learned’ and part of embracing life as it unfolds in our path. It’s also an opportunity to learn how time can become our ally over time. I recall a period in my early career path when I would entertain the final round of job interviews for seasoned roles. On a few occasions, I have crossed paths with the other candidates who were also vying for these positions. Visually it was clear that I was significantly younger than these prospective candidates who exhibited possibly more life experience than myself. While age is only a number, by the time I was 23, I found myself interviewing alongside professionals in their 40s and early 50s. I was technically and non-technically competent when it came to business acumen, although I still needed time to mold me into a professional with life skills that would help me coexist alongside personalities and demands that come with working these highly visible & pressure cooker roles. The few years that followed afterwards definitely granted me an opportunity to work in partnership with distinct personalities where I could hold my own within the organization among my peers and in the world. Having talent and skill sets is commendable; at the same time, life skills are more important for survival when honoring roles that invite personalities (from type A to Z), different communication styles, respectable to questionable work ethics, knowing how to address conflict management and speaking up; etc. One is expected to balance these realities with dignity & integrity. The roles I’ve entertained in my past weren’t roles that people work for the sake of earning a paycheck. The investment is too high and the risks are high too but with greater the risk, comes a greater reward. It’s a lifestyle and career path for investing one’s time, interest and skill sets while maintaining a sensible perspective when entrenched in these commitments. Allow time to become your ally in circumstances when you believe life isn’t going your way. You’ll be grateful that you weren’t set up to fail when infact the universe isn’t saying ‘no’, it’s just saying ‘not right now’. Time also allows us to assess whether we desire the things we want for the right reasons. My reasons were valid. You think you’re ready but the universe decides when you’re ‘truly’ ready to take on a new challenge. Don’t force things to happen, or else you’re setting yourself to fail in only a matter of time.
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?
Being able to stand and walk alone. There will be moments when you know the goals an organization or a client is pursuing aren’t aligned with their best interests. Sometimes executives can’t tell apart whether the assessment they’re receiving is a personal opinion or professional sage guidance. Egos and control issues can mask an executive’s or a C-Suite’s ability to sufficiently understand their challenges to yield sound solutions. Stand your ground and don’t change your assessment to pander to audiences that need to learn how to cope with impending changes taking place in ‘their’ organization. Decisions can’t be made without taking a measured approach to understanding the present conditions. If too much time is compromised, then the market will dictate whether this organization fares well over time. Time wasted means money is leaking from an entity. Either the company is growing literally or metaphorically, or it’s stagnating. If the audience I’m serving isn’t vested in producing healthy changes, I will move on to the next entity/client waiting on me.
Speaking up. This ties into the prior clause of being able to hold our own. Speaking up means recognizing the virtues and opportunities for improvement in environments that we’re tasked to manage. Speaking up is not the same as ‘talking’. Many people talk but they don’t really say anything. Speaking up means to consciously assess one’s thoughts to deliver messages that can positively contribute to a circumstance that either needs attention, direction, consolation, closure, or even provide an opportunity to explore a holistic discussion. In my opinion, speaking up demands more thought and empathy because my work entails learning about challenges and developing solutions that address specific situations. My critiques and deliveries are apt to make the less groomed audiences uncomfortable because it forces them to look at reality for what it is in the context of the challenge demanding a breakthrough.This can pertain to performance management, sales, personnel relations, legal matters; etc. Speaking up isn’t about addressing who’s right or wrong. The latter is an immature approach because such conversations lead people away from crafting solutions, instead they are likely to create a band-aid for the problem rather than discover a proper solution that serves the organization’s interest. Speaking up has to do with doing the right thing. Through action, not lip service.
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?
This can be for a multitude of reasons that range from emotional to practical constraints. When things don’t go according to plan and possibly a lot is at stake, there’s a cocktail of emotions at play: shame, disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment, etc. Not all emotions are negative because I’ve seen some very upbeat people wanting to take action but they freeze last minute. Whether it’s due to doubt or granting naysayers power, the possibilities are endless. This is likely not the case for everyone. There are times when individuals are grounded in their emotional approach to taking risks yet they can’t afford to absorb any losses if their plans go sideways. These losses can range from losing money, resources or even compromising relationships. When we’re taking risks, we’re desiring a prospective gain/reward; at the same time, we’re also willing to incur a loss. The loss can be out of our control, or it can be measured and known in advance. This is why people are encouraged to invest in opportunities to the degree they can afford a loss. If the losses are greater, it will situate the individual in a position where they might or might not be able to recover. Also society projects unrealistic expectations upon people that they must succeed on their first try. If they don’t, then something must be wrong with them — this also extends to organizations. It goes against the grain of life and living. Life is meant to be a series of trial and errors. Fear goes against the flow of human growth.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Being afraid of anything in life paralyzes one from taking action to move forward. There will be no movement nor progress unfolding in such circumstances. Progress can’t take place because a decision needs to precede a desired outcome. This limits people mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and in all ways that allows us to acquire a perspective in living life. This impacts all aspects of our life: career, love, money, family, desires, etc. Society has conditioned people to believe that one needs to only make decisions that ensure success. Life comes with no guarantees regardless of who we are, there is always an ebb and a flow. We need to learn how to swim in the gray space. It takes practice to make decisions and honor the ramifications in order to refine our decision-making process which helps alleviate our fears. It’s more mental bondage than anything else.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
People need to remind themselves that abundance resides on the opposite end of where they’ve chained themselves in fear. It’s simply a walk across the bridge. No one is keeping us from our goals other than ourselves. I once attended a sales seminar that addressed the fear of making decisions. I recall the speaker saying, ‘there are no right and wrong decisions’. (Disclaimer: context matters for the latter comment.) We make decisions all the time. If they pan out well, great! If they pan out unfavorably, we make them right. Sooner or later, there are decisions in life that we ‘make right’. For example, if we outgrow our professional roles then we pursue a new opportunity that aligns with who we are at that moment in time. It doesn’t make our prior decision for choosing the latter job wrong. Remember, this is not about right or wrong. If a married couple chose one another for a lifelong commitment at a given moment in time, perhaps two decades down the road they’ve outgrown the relationship. They have the free-will to separate and divorce because they no longer feel it is the right decision to continue honoring their commitment into the future. It’s important to remember that some decisions in life have permanent consequences while others have short term consequences that can be rectified. We’re human beings constantly growing for better or worse. Life is about motion. We either go with the flow, or time will leave us behind in a state of stagnation. Life is not to blame for one’s stagnation. Humans are responsible for taking charge of their life. It begins with decisions. Not making decisions is a decision itself. It comes with its share of consequences. Stop torturing yourself. Set yourself free. Be good to yourself.
If people actually knew how many rejections I’ve received in life, they’d wonder how I’m still standing and going about my life. Once I hit four figures worth of rejections a ‘very very very’ long time ago, I actually started viewing this as a positive thing. I was in fact directed by the universe to abandon roads that weren’t good for me in the long run. While it didn’t feel that way then, in hindsight I’m grateful that life forced me to move towards greener pastures that I’ve nurtured through my decisions and efforts. No one is truly alone. People feel in the dark about taking risks because society in general doesn’t celebrate people divulging their flaws. The world is conditioned to paint fairy tales leading people to believe everyone’s life is perfect. Life is more rich in living when it’s experienced without these false pretenses.
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?
Failure to me means that I’m going in the wrong direction. Once I had onboarded a financial vendor based on the recommendation of a third party. The relationship with the vendor went sideways fast because they made the news for engaging in fraudulent practices that were under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The group delegated to handle the vetting process didn’t conduct their due diligence properly because they trusted the third party. The vendor went out of business. I ceased my relationship with the third party that lacked sufficient credentials to be functioning in the market. This resulted in losses that couldn’t be recovered because we were one of many clients the vendor had wronged through their questionable operations. Fortunately, we were only three months into the contract before these findings were brought to light thanks to credible government sources.
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?
It’s important everyone in the organization is on the same page when onboarding third party vendors and suppliers. If there are differences in opinions (which is different from professional assessments), it’s important to explore the conversation. I believe all third parties need to be vetted regardless of their association with a brand or an organization. No one is immune from incurring a lapse in judgment or human error. Organizations are managed by people and it’s inevitable there will be turnovers in these places that can invite unethical personalities to manage these endeavors. This is why most organizations host compliance and audit protocols that are executed like clockwork to ensure any red flags are caught and addressed in a timely manner. What do you do when the CFO is the problematic ghost creating these problems, or even working as an accomplice with outside vendors to pocket side deals? It’s definitely a problem. I’ve seen C-level executives fired from organizations. It doesn’t matter who it is or their title, they need to earn our advocacy. I’ve learned from experience there are many incompetent people in senior positions managing organizations. The vested employees aren’t aware they are navigating a landmine because people are encouraged to silence any observations screaming for attention.
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. Practice making decisions everyday. We function on autopilot when it comes to managing our daily lives. Learn to make conscious decisions daily from a place of positivity and direction. Abandon fear, allow yourself to move forward. Doubt only breeds more doubt.
2. Explore life more. Study your goals that you want to bring to life. Learn more about these goals through various means from reading to talking to the right sources. Develop the confidence that allows you to make decisions that unfold through actions that help you actualize these outcomes.
3. Watch your thoughts. Everything in life has energy. Thoughts become words which become things (also outcomes). Catch yourself when you engage in negative self talk or negativity of any kind. This is not about living in denial when something is unhealthy which needs attention. Mind your words. If you can’t do something, then I agree. You can’t. If you claim you can achieve something, then I agree too. You can achieve something. There is a difference between affirmations and incantations. Tony Robbins explains the concept of incantations best. Look it up!
4. A new day delivers a new story. Learn to divorce your past experiences that have paralyzed you from moving forward. It’s a new day, a new time and a new slate! Celebrate the gift of a new day by committing to yourself. Drop the excuses, no one cares. Stop lying to yourself that you need more time. You might need more time to develop yourself but you don’t need more time to make the decision to remove the chains holding you back in fear. It’s important that you believe in yourself more than I do. The greatest advocate of your life is you.
5. You have everything you need to succeed. There is nothing missing from your life. Everything outside of you from resources to tools serve as a supplement. Your greatest asset is your mind. Feed it well with your beliefs, knowledge, lifestyle choices and self-esteem. The mind is neutral, we breathe life into it by what we surround ourselves with 24/7. The mind can be an ally or an enemy. It goes where you direct it to go. Are you walking the dog, or is it walking you?
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?
Failure is a critical recipe that nurtures success. It’s important to learn what works or doesn’t work well when pursuing specific goals. Failure is like the rain that nurtures a barren slate of impending dreams. Failure is necessary to one’s survival just as success. One can’t exist without the other.
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. :-)
In respect to failure, I would say make a list of things that you’d like to achieve but have no real reason for not taking action. Make the list then do your best to work through activating a few of these goals over the course of the next 30 days. If you have the wrong people and unhealthy lifestyle habits circumventing you, then it’s time to address these concerns first. Remember, misery loves company. The negativity will not leave you. You will need to literally and metaphorically abandon the unhealthy variables in your life.
In respect to business and life, I have a public service announcement to share with all members in the global business community. As someone invested in social causes since an early age, my radar alerts me of causes that can benefit from community outreach. If people have any bandwidth and resources, I would encourage them to seek food pantries in their geographic areas that can benefit from donations (food or resources) to support their mission. It was brought to my attention that due to current events and inflation, food pantries are challenged in managing sufficient inventories to help their respective communities in need. As food prices have gone up, civilians are busy managing their personal budgets to make ends meet. This reality restricts regular contributors from donating due to household budgets being under evaluation. There are members in various communities that benefit from generous contributions to help them put food on the table. These lifestyle changes are impacting people within and outside the United States. It is also a wonderful team-building activity for organizations to host food drives that can provide positive means for these nonprofits to continue honoring their mission of service.
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 :-)
Jeff Bezos. I believe he and I have enough to explore in discussion when it comes to business and spirituality.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
People are welcome to visit sashatalks.com and drop a hello through the contact page.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
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.