Getting Past Our Fear of Failure

Week two of the Iowa Start-up Accelerator was spent talking with moms and asking them about their biggest challenge raising a daughter. Hands down, the most common was response was fear of failure. So many of their daughters were afraid to do things they didn’t think they were good at, or that they didn’t feel they could do perfectly. And that has moms worried.

The reason they are worried? One mom said it best – “

"I have a daughter who is terrified by competition. She wants to be the best at everything so if she’s not guaranteed that, then she’d rather not do it. She would make decisions that would keep her from developing into the woman she is supposed to be or could be because she is afraid of looking bad at 1, or 12 or 13. Fear of how she is going to appear before other people is something that is going to keep her from becoming who she may become. I look at her and I go “no” - this is an emotion that you are feeling right now that is keeping you from being who you were made to be. It’s better to face those things now than it is to wait until you are older and have them be true. When she says “Oh I can’t do it" I have to say "Well nobody can do it when they are 8! Face the fear now while it’s okay. Nobody is perfect at 8."

So often, when we see and hear the stories of successful women, it is with a focus on the “happy ending.” Sure, they may have experienced struggles, but we know it turned out okay. The struggles are past tense, so they don’t feel as real and are easy to overlook.

We don’t get to see the realities of the process, in the moment. We don’t see the fear, the uncertainty or the struggle that comes with trying to make the “right” decisions. We don’t see the hard work and late nights, the self-doubt and pressure, or the iterative process that is trying something that doesn’t work, learning from it and trying again.

It is for that reason that our team is committed sharing with you our journey in building Girls With Ideas. We don’t actually know if this is going to work, and we’ve all taken a risk in pursuing it anyway. But we have faith in ourselves and our abilities. We are eager to learn and try, and learn some more, to create a path forward. We are willing to ask for help and seek the expertise that we don’t have. We are willing to put in the time and effort to build something that makes a difference in the lives of girls.

This is it looks like to be a Girl With Ideas…


We start our day with a daily stand-up. 

We use the Zoom video conference service to meet virtually.

We use the Zoom video conference service to meet virtually.

Every morning at 7:45am we have a daily stand-up to go through what we accomplished the day before and what we’ll be doing that day. (This is part of the scrum methodology to getting work done. You can get more information on this process here). We made it every morning, even when Britney was in another time zone and it was still basically the middle of the night. This has helped us stay connected and moving forward, even while we are in three different cities, and working at different times. After doing this for just 7 days days, we agreed that we can’t imagine starting the day any other way.

We work really, really hard. 

We put in really long days, and are doing work at night after a dinner break or maybe a quick nap. So we are tired. The countdown in our office is a daily reminder to make the most of our time in this experience. It seems like just yesterday it was at 95.  

Our goal for each day is to get as many items from our 'To-Do' column to our 'Done' column, or as we like to call it, our 'Happy Dance' column. 

Our goal for each day is to get as many items from our 'To-Do' column to our 'Done' column, or as we like to call it, our 'Happy Dance' column. 

We research the problem we are trying to solve. 

A screenshot from Dedoose showing how we code all of the themes we heard from our interviews with mothers. 

A screenshot from Dedoose showing how we code all of the themes we heard from our interviews with mothers. 

We conducted a lot of interviews this week and we were having trouble figuring out how we could be efficient and also make sure we captured all of the great stories and themes people had shared with us so we could make sense of them. We tried three different ways of doing it before we found our solution, Dedoose, a qualitative analysis application. It was so worth the trial and error, and time spent learning the new system, to get it right.

We connect with girls who have ideas. 

We had a visit this week from one of our Girls With Ideas campers! While Abbie interviewed her mom, she showed Allison all animals she could draw. As good as these are, there were some animals she didn’t want to put up there because she didn’t think she could do them very well. It was a both a fun visit, and reinforcement of what we were hearing in our interviews all week. 

 

Notice our girl with ideas that came in also drew a rocket like the Iowa Startup Accelerator Logo AND a $100 bill. She said she wants our business to get lots of money! $$$

Notice our girl with ideas that came in also drew a rocket like the Iowa Startup Accelerator Logo AND a $100 bill. She said she wants our business to get lots of money! $$$

How do you overcome your fear of failure? We would love any stories, ideas, or resources that you have to share for not only ourselves but also all of our girls.