21. What to Do When You Fail

Failure is part of being on a mission and part of life.  Often it is challenging to know how to use our failures to our advantage, rather than allowing them to bring us down or quit entirely.  

In this episode you will learn:  
•The definition of failure that will change everything
•Why failure sometimes doesn’t feel so good
•The best mindset to keep our failures working in our favor.  

Failure can actually be an amazing tool and in this episode you will learn how.

0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jennie, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 21. What to do when you fail?

0:13 I am Jennie, the LDS mission coach, and whether you are preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:53 Hey, everyone, and welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to be with you today. I love hanging out with you, and giving you helpful tips and strategies and tools to use on your mission and well beyond your mission into the rest of your life. I have been working on preparing my mental mission prep course, for preparing missionaries. I know that missionaries are spiritually prepared, and there’s never been more of a need to have mental preparedness. And that’s why I created mental mission prep. And can I just say that I love giving these tools to preparing missionaries. When I sent my two boys off on their missions, I just kind of cross my fingers and hope they were emotionally and mentally prepared. I know we’ve done some spiritual preparedness. I know we’ve done some youth trucks, they were involved in sports, they’d had some challenging times. But I really didn’t have a litmus test to let me know how it was going to go. On the mission. I didn’t know if they were mentally and emotionally prepared. I didn’t know if I’d given them all the tools that they would need to succeed out there. And after working with hundreds of clients preparing currently serving return missionaries and hearing from dozens of missionary Mama’s and hearing what their missionaries are struggling with, I have created a proven framework that helps missionaries navigate the challenges of a mission.

2:32 I have so many moms that email me and tell me that their son or daughter are struggling. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with that, because the mission is actually really challenging. It’s hard, there will likely be some moments of struggle. And there will be some good moments too. But there will be moments of struggle. But the thing that I’ve noticed with this framework with this course that I’ve created for preparing missionaries

2:58 is that when preparing missionaries have these tools.

3:03 It allows them to use the struggle to create growth and to propel them forward. If they don’t have mental and emotional tools. The struggle just kind of takes over. And it kind of sucks them in and it’s hard to see out of

3:20 no struggle looks like a lot of different things on the mission, there’s homesickness, losing confidence, there’s comparison, there’s difficult companions, there’s perfectionism, there’s pressure from goals and things that we’re trying to set and there’s failure. And that’s what I want to talk about today. But before I move on to failure, I want to let you know that I am currently enrolling for my January course of mental mission prep, and you should totally be in there. We stop the mission struggle before it even begins. So if you’re interested in that, why don’t you send me an email Jennie at Jennie dildine.com, and we can get you set up in mental mission prep. It’s so important more important than ever. So on to failure. What I want to talk about today. What I hear most often from clients is a sentence that sounds like this. I feel like a failure. Something’s kind of gone wrong in their lives, or they’ve seen some kind of outcome. And they start to think this thought but failure isn’t a feeling. Notice how this sentence I feel like a failure

4:39 isn’t actually a feeling. It’s something that we’re thinking. Failure might be a thought that we choose to think about ourselves and that would make us feel inadequate or insecure. It would sound like this. I am a failure. But that thought I feel like a failure creates feelings.

5:00 of inadequacy, and insecurity. Now remember, what I teach on here is that thoughts always create our feelings, not facts. Facts are just the things that happen in our lives. They’re the things outside of us. They’re the things that our companion says they’re the things our companion does. They’re the things that happen in the world, none of those things can make us feel inadequate or insecure.

5:25 Only thoughts can. And the thought I am a failure is probably going to make us feel inadequate or insecure. But what I like to do with failure, and what I want to explain a little bit of for you today is that I like to think of failure

5:44 as completely objective.

5:48 And I’ll tell you why I like to do this in a minute. So just file that away for a second, failure can actually be completely objective. So what is failure? I want to give you the definition I use with my clients. And the one that I use for myself, which is, failure is the omission of a required step or action that keeps us from our desired outcome.

6:16 So the reason I like thinking about it this way is because then we can make it super facting. One of the first things I teach my clients is how to separate facts. From thoughts. Again, this is so important, because facts. Don’t make us feel anything. Thoughts do facts we don’t always have control over. But our thoughts we do.

6:44 So I like to make quote unquote, failure, super faculty, and let me illustrate what this might look like.

6:54 Let’s say we’re on the mission. And we have a goal, to get five people to church who normally don’t go to church.

7:05 And we make a few phone calls during the week, we send a few messages and ask a member to pick up one person on the way. And then there we are in sacrament meeting, we get there. And we realize after the meeting starts and the music’s playing, and maybe they’re passing the sacrament, we’re like, oh, shoot, we didn’t reach our goal. There aren’t five people here, there’s only one person here.

7:31 This is where we have an opportunity to make our failure.

7:36 Super faculty, one out of five people, that’s a fact, right? We were trying to get five, we only got one.

7:49 Now, instead of thinking we failed, or I’m a failure, or our companionship has failed, I choose to think of it like hmm,

8:01 one out of five, okay, maybe we didn’t make enough calls. Maybe we didn’t invite enough people. Maybe we should have sent messages the morning of maybe we should have gotten more members involved, whatever it is.

8:18 I would think Oh, okay. I thought the actions I took during the week would get five people to church.

8:28 I would also ask myself, I wonder what required stepper action I omitted that prevented me from getting my desired result. So failure, my friends, we can make super fact it. Is it true that we omitted some required steps or actions that kept us from our desired outcome of the five? Yes.

8:52 We could call that a failure. But it’s also super faculty. And the reason that this is so important is again, because facts don’t cause our emotions. Thoughts do.

9:05 So why do we avoid failure? The difficulty of failure comes because not because of one of five people at church, if it comes from what we make the failure mean, it comes from our thought about the one out of five people at church. Most of the world goes around trying to avoid failure. The thing that’s so ironic about this is we have complete control over what we choose to make it mean.

9:38 The one person at church when we wanted five doesn’t make us feel anything. There was probably way more than just one person at church. Those people or the one that got there

9:53 doesn’t make you feel anything.

9:56 It’s all of our thoughts about the one person out of

10:00 Five, that make us feel inadequate, or insecure, most of the time we make it mean that we aren’t good enough, or that people don’t like us, or that people don’t care about what I have to say, or maybe what I have to say, isn’t that important? Or they should think it’s important.

10:18 Those thoughts don’t feel very good, do they?

10:22 Those thoughts actually create feelings of sadness, overwhelm, discouragement, pressure, insecurity, sometimes self loathing, and our brain doesn’t like feeling these emotions. Remember, your lower brain can’t differentiate between physical pain and emotional pain. And so what our brain decides is like, you know, what would be best is if we just didn’t try at all.

10:50 So we get the one person to church out of five, we have this thought, that we’re not good enough, or people don’t like us, or this is our fault. We feel sadness, overwhelmed discouragement, pressure, insecurity, sometimes self loathing,

11:05 and we stop trying, we actually quit, our brain is like, you know, what would be so much better as if we never did this, again, those feelings stink.

11:17 Those feelings don’t feel so good. So our brain just wants us to quit. But we actually have two options. When we fail. Number one, we can make it mean something about us completely subjective, will start to have tons of thoughts about ourselves, when we only get the one of five people to church. Or we can make it mean something about the process.

11:46 That’s so different. It’s so objective, we can have tons of curiosity about the specific steps or actions that we omit it. And that creates an entirely different feeling. Let’s think about this. If we were making a batch of cookies. By the way, I actually have a client that’s in mental mission prep right now. And she works for crumble. And she actually told me that she was in charge one morning of putting together a test cookie, she didn’t tell me what flavor it was. But my girls were obsessed, and totally fan girling, when they found out that she works for crumble cookie, because we’re huge fans of crumble cookie around here. But back to if we were making cookies at home. And we were following a recipe and there was sort of this way, this recipe that we thought we needed to follow to get a desired outcome. The outcome is that we have some yummy cookies that we can eat.

12:51 But what if we inadvertently omitted a certain step? Or a certain action? What if we omit the flour?What would happen to those cookies, we would put them in the oven, and then we pull them back out. And it would just be like a soupy probably, or hard mess all over the pan. Now notice, with the cookies, we hardly ever make it about us. We hardly ever make it mean that we’re not good enough that we’re terrible that we should never cook again. We hardly ever make that outcome subjective. And yet, with so many other things in our lives, we do make it subjective.

13:47 When those cookies don’t turn out the way that we expected them to, or we didn’t get the outcome that we were expecting. We don’t judge ourselves and think there’s something wrong with us. Instead, we’re like, oh, well, I guess I left something out. Let’s go back to the drawing board. I wonder what I left out. I wonder why it didn’t turn out the way I thought it should. So what’s the big deal? We have these two options, we can make it mean something about us. Or we can make it mean something about the process. If we all went around thinking there’s something wrong with me, I’m a terrible cook. We probably never cook cookies again. But we don’t we’re just like, oh, well, we’ll give it another try. Let’s try it again. Let’s look at the recipe and go again. What happens when we choose the option where we make our failure? Again, the omission of the flour, or the like the one out of five? friends at church, new friends at church. What happens when we make it mean something about us? What happens is we have tons of judgmental thoughts

15:00 It’s about ourselves, we feel terrible, we start to look for all of the other reasons that we aren’t good enough, we start to make the goal of getting the five people to church, we start to make it about us, which is crazy, right? Because that goal of getting the five people to church was never about us. But our brain wants to make it about us, when we start having all these judgmental thoughts, we start to think something’s wrong with me. Then what happens is, we most likely quit trying. And if we don’t quit, you can bet that when we’re feeling all these terrible feelings, we’re not as likely to go out there and figure it out, and hit the ground running, and talk to more people and send more texts and send more messages and ask more members to help. So when we make the failure means something about us, we actually are more likely to quit.

16:01 And again, remember, the goal was probably never about you in the first place. Now, what happens when we make the failure the one out of five people at church means something about the process? Instead? We don’t question ourselves anymore, we question what step we might have missed, we start to get curious, we start to look to the future, knowing that we can create something different, like for sure we’re gonna get the five people there. But maybe we need to take a different course of action to make it happen. When we make the failure mean something about the process. We put the focus back on the people that we’re trying to serve, that we’re trying to help that there’s a reason actually, that we want these people at church. And then the end result of all of that when we’re fueled by curiosity and compassion for these people. And we’re not making it about us, when we’re just curious about what step we omitted, we keep going. And not only do we keep going, but it starts to sound like let’s get as many failures as possible. Then we get two people to church and three people to church and four people to church. And by the time we reach our goal of getting five people to church, how much have we learned?

17:38 Let’s collect as many failures as possible, let’s make these cookies. These crumble cookies, or these cookies as many times as possible. failures, please, because that, when we make it mean something about the process only gives us more information. This can apply to any goal you have, by the way. Whether it’s you wanting to spend a certain amount of time on Facebook finding I’ve heard a lot of missionaries lately are saying, I just really love being out and st contacting so much more than Facebook. But it sounds like from the missionaries I’ve heard from you can tell me if it’s different from the missionaries I’ve heard from missions have had so much success with Facebook finding that they’re wanting missionaries now to do a combination of both. So maybe you want to spend a certain amount of time Facebook finding, and you have a goal each week. I mean, I don’t know what the numbers are. But maybe you have a goal to spend seven hours a week, so maybe an hour each day Facebook finding.

18:50 And then you come along. It’s been a week, you set a goal on Sunday, that by the next Sunday, you would have done seven hours of finance book finding. And then you notice, oh, we only did three. So we can make that mean something about us that we’re lazy, that we’re a terrible missionary that will never be good enough that we don’t have a strong testimony. I mean, we could mean all kinds of things. But all of those thoughts that we make it mean are gonna make us feel worse and more more likely to quit train. Or we can be like Okay, three out of seven, three out of seven hours. We wanted seven we only did three, what steps and What actions did we omit? That prevented us from getting the outcome that we wanted? You could also apply this to the number of times that you want to attend the temple. I was working with a return missionary this week who said Ah, I was studying for a test and my temple time came and went and I didn’t miss it. purpose, but and it was scheduled. But I just got so into my test studying that it just completely slipped my mind. And so what we can do is we can make that mean something about us. His brain wanted to make it mean that he was a terrible return missionary, that he doesn’t put the temple as a priority. But none of that has to be true. And when we think those thoughts, it makes us feel terrible, and we’re actually less likely to go to the temple. So instead, I worked with him, and we just looked at it.

20:34 I asked him, How many times do you want to get to the temple? He said, I want to get there every Thursday. So we made it super faculty. Okay, so how many times have you gone to the temple so far? In the last four weeks, he was like, Well, I’ve been at, now I’m at three of four. Okay, three or four? What do we want to make that mean? We can make it mean something about the process, you can bet that After that happened, he’s like, from now on, I’m gonna set an alarm so that it goes off when it’s time to start getting ready for the temple. See, nothing’s wrong with him. All that happened is he omitted a certain step or a certain action that would have allowed him to get to the temple that day like he wanted. But as soon as we make it mean something terrible about us. We don’t want to go to the temple, we we get on ourselves. And he even said to me, if I had been in self loathing and insecurity and self judgment, I most likely would not have rescheduled the session. But instead, he was like, Okay, what step did I omit? That will get me there next time. And he set an appointment for the next day, let me when’s the next day, no big deal.

21:51 It could also be the number of contacts that you’re supposed to reach, maybe street contacting, maybe you’re supposed to get Seventh Street contacts or something like that, you guys will know the numbers way better than me. But we get to the end of the week, and we only have two. Or maybe we have six, but it’s not seven. And instead of making that mean, like we’re terrible. We can be like, Oh, okay, well, we must have omitted some actions, we must have omitted some steps that prevented us from getting the outcome that we wanted. Remember, the definition of failure, the definition I want to give you today is that failure is just the omission of a set of required steps or actions that keep us from our desired outcome. It’s hardly ever about us. Can we make it mean something about the process and get curious about that. Now I have some mantras for you when you fail. And there’s five of them. So when you fail, when you get the two of seven, or the four of six, or the one of five, or whatever it is, I want these to be your go to thoughts. Number one, I’m going to have my own back. And what I think about with this is, other people might even judge me, my companion might even judge me, or my roommate might even judge me, my parents might even judge me, but I’m gonna have my own back, I’m gonna know that I’m doing what I want to do. And some people might even look at your goal and be like, well, that’s ridiculous. But I’m gonna have my own back and know that I’m working towards something that I want. So I’m going to have my own back is about other people’s judgment, that they can judge you, but you are going to know that it’s what you want, and it’s what you’re working towards. Number two, I’m going to honor my effort. And this sounds like good job me for even trying to get to the temple in the first place. Good job, me. For even working towards getting people to church in the first place. Isn’t that amazing? What we’re doing. We can be proud of ourselves, we can honor ourselves. Number three, I’m going to objectively look at the process and use it as an opportunity to get curious and learn.

24:27 And I think we’ve talked quite a bit about this. So just make it faculty. Look at the process. Get curious and learn. Number four, I’m going to use failure as an opportunity to love myself more instead of loving myself less. You know what, sometimes when we fail, it does feel disappointing. And I’m not saying we don’t always we don’t want to feel that disappointment when there’s only one person at church. We can be like, Oh my gosh, that’s kind of disappointing. have really wished those people would have been here to experience this and to feel the spirit. Totally fine to be disappointed. But don’t hate yourself through that disappointment. Don’t hate yourself through this process. Use this failure as an opportunity to love yourself more instead of loving yourself less. Number five is I will refuse to say mean things to myself to beat myself up or to quit. Okay, we just learn, we take it objectively. And we just keep going. Again, number one, I’m going to have my own back. Number two, I’m going to honor my effort. Number three, I’m going to objectively look at the process and use it as an opportunity to get curious and learn. Number four, I’m going to use failure as an opportunity to love myself more instead of loving myself less. And number five, I will refuse to say mean things to myself to beat myself up or quit. Listen, whenever you quote unquote, fail, when you don’t get the outcome you’re expecting. You can spin in the thoughts about yourself and that you’ll never be good enough. Or you can make it super faculty and objective. Don’t make it about you. Make it mean something about the process. Get curious about it. Because blaming yourself and making it about you doesn’t move us forward. Unless then if it worked, I’d be all for it. But it actually makes us want to quit. What we can tell ourselves as hmm, I thought it was going to reach my goal this way, but I guess not.

26:41 I wonder what actions I need to implement. To get the outcome I want. I guess we got to go back to the drawing board. Back to the recipe. Don’t let your brain run on autopilot. Remember, it wants to conserve energy. It’ll want to shut you down. It would actually love it if you quit because figuring out new stuff takes a lot of energy. So decide on purpose. What you want to make your failure mean. All right. Everyone have the most amazing week. It was so good to be with you. Take care. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. If you want to learn more about what I do, you can go to Jennie dildine.com. Or just come hang out with me on Instagram at Jennie dot the LDS mission coach and Jennie is spelled with an IE. Remember, no matter which part of the mission experience that you’re involved in, just know that Jennie the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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