Overcoming Failure with Paola Soares – You Win or You Learn

how to overcome failure
I'm Michelle!

Master Life Coach, Wife & Mom, Certified Nervous System Fitness Expert, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Podcaster, Attorney, and Deep Believer in Curiosity and Self-Compassion

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When was the last time you were face-to-face with failure? In today’s episode of The Motherhood Podcast, Clarity Coach and host of the top-rated podcast, But First, She Failed, Paola Soares, shares with us how her moments of “failure” propelled her to where she is today. 

Paola invites us to shift our paradigm around failure and overcome the fear of failing that is holding us back from living the life of our dreams.

Once I had that revelation – I’m either winning or I’m learning – it made taking the plunge, taking that step, doing the things that look really scary, a little bit more doable because now I’m thinking I’m either going to win or I’m going to learn.” – Paola Soares

To connect with Paola, head to:

Three things you’ll learn in this post:

  1. The steps for overcoming failure
  2. How to find your confidence again after failure
  3. How to get clarity on our calling

Tell us a bit about you, your family, and how “failure” set the path for your professional journey and led you to your podcast.  

I’m married to my amazing husband, Sean Soares, and we have a two-year-old son who is highly active! I had always wanted to be a journalist and had an incredible opportunity at Univision, which was the job of my dreams.

But then I was let go – and I felt like such a failure. It was devastating for me because at the time, my identity was wrapped up in what I was doing. 

Through that time in my life, I realized I had a false narrative in my head that all the successful women I looked up to – the anchors in my industry, the movie stars, and the politicians we interviewed – had it all figured out. And as I learned more about the personal lives of these people, I realized that all successful women have moments of “failure.” 

I began to look around and think, “if I ever believed this lie, how many other people are out there believing it right now too?” 

I heard God tell me to start a podcast dedicating myself to destigmatizing this whole idea of ​​failure, and that’s how But First, She Failed was born.

How do you define failure and how should we let it define us (if at all)?  

Failure is a real thing, and we can’t make it seem like it is not. Fear of failure is very common, but at the same time, it’s a very unique and personal experience. What feels like failure for me, might not be for you. 

But one of the fundamental things that I have learned is that in life, it’s not that you win or you lose. The truth is that you win, or you learn

In every situation we go through, we’re learning. We can always ask ourselves, what can I gain from this? What could I do better the next time? And with this shift in perspective, we’re either winning or learning, which is really always winning!

Go out there and take that risk to do what’s in your heart. You’re either going to win or you’re going to learn, and either way, you’re going to get one step closer to your purpose. 

When we do feel like we’ve failed, what are the steps for overcoming it?  

You can think of overcoming failure in 4 steps: 

1. Take some time to reflect and do an inventory. Ask yourself, what could I be doing better? What are the things I could be improving? Where can I take accountability? What do I have to be able to accept about this?

2. As yourself, who are the people in my community? Am I surrounding myself with the people I need to be around in this season?

3. Take action. Come up with a plan for your next steps and start to implement it.

4. Prioritize serving others.

As women, especially ambitious women, I think sometimes after experiencing failure we just want to jump right back up and move on.  How important is it for us to honor our healing time and have grace for ourselves in the process?  

This is super important. The healing process is unique to each individual and we each need to take the time to honor our feelings around the failure. Because if we don’t, those feelings are going to come out in another way, right?

And we can take as long as we need to heal. The important thing is that we do something, so we don’t stay in the same place feeling sorry for ourselves. By taking action, we’ll start to regain our confidence and at some point, we’ll even be able to help others who are going through a similar situation. 

Why is it important for our kids to see us fail?  

Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, has told the story that when she was a child, her dad would ask her and her brother what they’d failed at that day. When I heard that, at first I thought it was a strange question – why would a parent ever ask that? But after some reflection, I realized that he was doing it to destigmatize the idea of failure.

If we failed at something, it means that we’ve tried something new and most likely we are growing in some area by learning. So, he was actually encouraging them to explore, to try new things, and not be afraid!

With our kids, when they can see how we bounce back, how we take the time to reflect on what we need and move on, and how we’re learning from our setbacks – if they see that failure is normal, the moment it happens to them, they will be better equipped to do the same when they’re faced with failure.

I know you do a lot of work helping women get clear on their calling.  If there’s someone listening today who knows their job isn’t their calling, what would you say to them? Where should they start in discovering and getting clarity on their calling?  

From what I have experienced, I can say that even if you have a dream job, if it is not aligned with your purpose and what you want, it will give you burnout and can be dangerous for your mental health. On the other hand, when your work is aligned with your calling, you are excited to get up in the morning, you feel energized, and you love it!

It’s so important to get clear about what you’re passionate about and reflect on the situations you’ve personally experienced that have shaped you in some way. Where these meet – your passion and your experience – that intersection is often your calling. 

Can you encourage and coach the women listening on how they can navigate imposter syndrome and comparison in their careers and motherhood journeys?  

I want to assure you that if you have a dream, there is a reason why you have it! There is a reason we all have different dreams; we are all uniquely and wonderfully made.

I think sometimes we worry too much about what other people are going to think of us, and this is a lie. The reality is that most people are actually preoccupied with themselves! Just reminding ourselves of this, can help relieve the stress of impostor syndrome. 

Another tool is to record yourself on your phone, saying how proud you are about the things you’ve done and reminding yourself of moments when you really shined. And then when that imposter syndrome starts creeping in, you can listen to that recording to remind yourself of the truth. 

There are people in this world who need you to start walking with purpose, to start walking in your calling, because you are going to be a great blessing to others. There is a reason why we each have a unique gifting on our lives! 

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You my friend, are called to a life of fullness and abundance - no matter how wild this motherhood journey is. It's time to trade the exhaustion and overwhelm for peace and joy.  No more hot-mess express.  I've got you. 

Learn more

Let's redefine what's possible in motherhood.

cool as a cucumber, ENNEAGRAM 3, book hoarder, MATCHA LATTE LOVER, growth seeker, accountability partner, and your biggest cheerleader

I'm Michelle.
Your Master Coach.

You my friend, are called to a life of fullness and abundance - no matter how wild this motherhood journey is. It's time to trade the exhaustion and overwhelm for peace and joy.  No more hot-mess express.  I've got you. 

Learn more

Let's redefine what's possible in motherhood.


Cheers to starting your day right!  Make yourself comfortable and get ready to dig in, learn, and most importantly, take action!

You got it, Mama!

Game Changer

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