According to an article in the WSJ, the latest research shows fear of failure and lack of confidence are what really hold women entrepreneurs back. I asked my radio show guest, Susan Bass-Levin, CEO of the Cooper Foundation, to share some of her insights regarding both of these topics. As a former mayor, lady CEO and ovarian cancer survivor, Susan is a woman who’s been in the trenches of life.
Have you ever poured all your energy into one goal, and failed? Susan has. When she was mayor of Cherry Hill, NJ she ran for Congress, and lost. Imagine failing so publicly, that even your supermarket checkout clerk knows about it. That would make most people want to stay in bed. Or at least have someone else do their food shopping.
Susan and I chatted about everything from how we connected over candles to picking yourself up after failing, building confidence, and what’s really important in life. Here’s a recap of our radio interview:
Lynn: What is your vision for the Cooper Foundation?
My vision is to provide resources for the very best health-care resources in the community.” – Susan Bass-Levin
Susan:Too often we go through life without a vision. We’re so caught up in the day-to-day, we’re happy we can just keep all our balls in the air. Focusing on your “Grand Plan” gives you confidence. Even if you don’t get there in the first day, week or year, your vision will guide your plans and goals.
Lynn: How did you pick yourself up after losing the Congressional race?
Susan: When I lost the congressional race, someone tried to comfort me and said, “Losing builds character.” I remember thinking, I have plenty of character. I don’t need any more. Now what do I want to do? I was miserable at the time. Losing helped me dig deep to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. Within two years the Governor asked me to join his cabinet and I was off and running.
Lynn: We’ll stop fearing failure when we change the conversation, and rethink it. Failure is part of the process, like an experiment, and necessary to succeed. How did you make it out?
Focus on a project.” Susan Bass-Levin
Susan: We all make it out the other side, eventually. If you fail and play the blame game, you haven’t made any progress. Failure is critical to growth and learning. Those who succeed in the long term focus on the lesson, not the failure. After losing the Congressional race, I had two years left as Mayor. I decided to put a group together and build a new library. It became a town center in a town that has no town center. Now, every time I go in the library, I smile. The Cherry Hill Library is like no other, it has an art gallery, meeting space and a children’s room where children can actually have fun and make some noise.
One of my fondest childhood memories is when my Dad took me to get a library card.” – Susan Bass-Levin
Kudos to Susan on making some noise of her own, leaving a legacy that will impact generations yet to come. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your confidence. Your thoughts can be confidence builders, or breakers. Instead of beating yourself up (which women do all too well), remind yourself of your talents and skills. Failure does not define who you are. Think of a past achievement and visualize how you felt. If you did it before, you can do it again.
Susan ended our interview with these thoughts, “In 2002, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, all of a sudden my bad days didn’t seem so bad anymore.” That really puts life in perspective. Today, Susan is 10+ years cancer free.
Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning entrepreneur, radio host and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl. She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, vision and branding and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You may republish this article in full, as long as you list this paragraph and provide a link.