Arianna Huffington’s Secret to Not Sweating the Small Stuff

“Failure is not the opposite of success, failure is a stepping stone to success.”

Arianna Huffington, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, was 15 years old when she declared to her mother that she wanted to go to Cambridge University — one of the world’s top academic institutions, and one with a history of fierce competition, especially for women (until as recently as 1987, the University reserved the right to limit the number of female students).

“Most people I mentioned it to told me it was crazy,” she recalls. Indeed, she faced a long list of hurdles: the financial burden, the difficult exams she’d have to pass… and the fact that she’d have to learn English.

But the final, and perhaps most intimidating, hurdle, Huffington stresses, was the interview. When she arrived, there were 12 prospective students waiting. Huffington vividly remembers one English girl turning to the group and saying, “One of us is going to get in. That one is going to be me.” Huffington felt her confidence dwindling. Instantly, she heard the obnoxious roommate living in her head — that internal voice of self-doubt — grow louder. (“Of course she’s going to get in! Why did you ever think you were going to get in?!”)

But then, she thought of her greatest supporter, the person who had encouraged her to embrace the challenging application process in the first place: her mother. “Even if you don’t get in, that’s not the end of the world,” Huffington could picture her mother saying to her. “Failure is not the opposite of success, failure is a stepping stone to success.”

Just picturing her mother’s words catalyzed Huffington to relinquish her negative inner monologue. By practicing positive self-talk instead, she was able to put her worries about failing into perspective. And with that weight off her shoulders, she aced her interview.

Watch the full video to learn exactly how this experience taught Huffington that there’s really no reason to sweat over your own self-doubt.

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