The Making of a Billion Dollar Mindset – feat. Sara Blakely


In today’s episode of the Inspiration2Grow podcast, I am going to zero in on 3 major shifts in Sara Blakely’s mindset that helped her take her company, Spanx, to great heights and be listed on “Time 100” – a list of top 100 of the most influential people in the world.  She was also granted the title of the world’s youngest self-made billionaire by Forbes in 2012.  I think you’ll find this episode very enlightening.

Sara Blakely’s story is one of failure and grit.  Surprisingly, the founder of Spanx doesn’t attribute her phenomenal success to goal setting or self-discipline as many might assume, but to her mindset, which began to shift and develop at the young age of 16.  Things changed for her when she began listening to personal growth audio cassettes in her car for hours on end. 

The first and likely the most powerful mindset shift that Sara experienced was taught to her by her father.  As they were gathered around the table for dinner, he would post the question to her and her brother:

1.        What did you fail at this week?  Sara’s father would give them a high 5 when they told him about something they attempted but it didn’t go so well, or they may have been terrible at.  Instead of coaching or correcting them, her father celebrated their effort.
Sara claims this reframed her definition of failure stating, “Failure for me became NOT trying, versus the outcome.”

Don’t focus so much on the outcome because you are then afraid to fail.

This mindset shift helped a lot when it came to the 7 years of door-to-door selling that Sara found herself doing after college.  Many doors were slammed in her face along the way.

Develop the ability to:  get up, dust off and try again.

We have to learn to take full responsibility for our actions and realize every failure or less-than-stellar attempt at doing something provides us with a huge opportunity to grow and learn.  This is where mental resilience comes into play.  Sure, we get knocked down but can we get back up, dust ourselves off and take on the next attempt with re-newed vigor.

The acronym F.A.I.L. stands for ‘first attempt at learning’.  We should remind ourselves of this and embrace failing as a means to learn.  This ties into the growth mindset nicely, which is all about learning HOW to fail well, and knowing that learning from failure is what leads to eventual success.  This is summed up in the sentence I encourage everyone to adopt, children, teens and adults alike, “I can’t do that…. YET.”

The best success stories often begin with failure.

Failure paves the path to success, but as we all know, failure can be quite a lot to handle at times.  It can get you down and start a pity party or back you into a corner of despair, hopelessness and low self-esteem.  In short, failing at anything is daunting no matter how you look at it. But, if you’re ever feeling down about a failure, I want you to remember that the best success stories often begin with failure. And, great women such as the likes of: Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Lucille Ball, Vera Wang, Arianna Huffington failed many times before they ultimately succeeded in their respective fields of brilliance.

Fear of failure makes you fail … because you won’t even attempt things you’d like to do.
I think society needs to start redefining failure as they did at the Blakely household.  There is a very negative stigma associated with the words:  fail and failure. The fear of failure often stems from a deep-rooted fear of experiencing shame or embarrassment.  Failing can trigger feelings of worthlessness, so avoiding trying to do the activity in the first place serves as a means to protect oneself from sadness, regret, disappointment.

So, let’s flip the script on failure and start asking the question of yourself and your family… What did you fail at this week?  Celebrate the efforts in trying new things. 

2.       The second mindset shift that helped Sara Blakely especially when she was starting her new company was, “Do not care what other people think”.  This was a huge piece of her mindset that she says, still to this day, is important and takes constant work.  However, she comments, adopting this attitude is extremely freeing because you no longer care what others think of you and what you are doing, and you take more risks with this mindset.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” ~Lao Tzu
Unfortunately, we live in other people’s heads.  Let me give you a few examples of what I mean by this.
Ø  We carefully choose what we wear to the gym to look our best in the eyes of the other gym goers.
Ø  We beat ourselves up after a meeting at work going through everything we said, worried about what coworkers think of us.
Ø  We post the absolute best photo out of 35 plus selfies we took, adding a flattering filter to gain more likes and approval from others that we are attractive.
We live our lives worrying far too much what others think of us.  This makes us judge ourselves even more harshly.  It causes us to feel uncomfortable in our own bodies.  It causes us to feel apologetic and makes us live according to OUR perception of other people’s standards.  It results in feelings of: anxiety, lower self-esteem, being inauthentic, I’m not likable enough, I’m not intelligent enough, I’m not pretty enough.

The truth is, and I really want you to internalize this, other people’s opinions of us are none of our business. Their opinions have absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with them.

                At the end of the day, YOU have to be in love with yourself.

                You have to admire the way you do things and be the best possible version of who YOU can be.

I realize it’s not easy to ignore other’s opinions about you but here’s where a bit of mindset work comes into play.  Set up some boundaries for your thoughts.

-> Know your core values and see them as a bright, shining light that is guiding you through a forest.  The brighter the light, the clearer the path.
-> Know that you have complete control over your feelings so don’t allow others to get you down. Stay in charge of your mind and reactions to others. 
-> Know that you are doing your best and feel great about it.  No matter what response you may receive for your well-intended actions, remind yourself of this and don’t take it personally.
-> Know that everyone makes mistakes.  Even though we don’t talk about it enough, we all make them, big or small.  The world will not come to an end.
The bottom line is: stop caring what other people think and live life on your terms.  It will change your life.  Sara Blakely is a testament to this.
3.       Become a No-Limit Person – At the age of 16, Sara Blakely received a set of audio cassettes from her father.  She listened to the voice of Wayne Dyer, creator of “Becoming a No-Limit Person”, for hours on end until she had completely memorized his teachings.
In a nutshell, these cassettes were all about taking back your power.  We’re living in a society in which we attribute the things that happen to us to others. We also put limits on how much we can accomplish in life.  What if…you decided there was no limit to what you could achieve?  How much more would you be able to accomplish in life?
Three key principles Dyer talks about in depth:
* Recognize your capacity for growth
* Everyone can achieve high limits
* Why complain over things you have no control over
These endless hours of personal development were so impactful on her, she even presented the idea of teaching this to her school principal.  Sara commented, “In school they teach us WHAT to think, Dyer and his cassettes taught me HOW to think.”  She continues by adding, “Self-education is so important to your development as a person and it’s the very thing that will set you apart from everyone else.”
She strongly believes the more you experience in life, the more you have to offer others. 

So, invest in yourself…it’s the most important investment you’ll ever make. ~Jim Rohn

With that quote, I will wrap up today’s talk.  I hope you enjoyed the examples from Sara Blakely’s life that shifted her way of approaching things like:  failure, limiting beliefs and other’s opinions. 

And, I will leave you as I always do…
Just in case you haven’t heard it yet today, let me be the first to say it…

You are an amazing human being, full of potential.  I believe in you.  Now, go out and show the world what you are truly made of.

I hope to have inspired you to grow.

Til next time,