“Failure is only failure when you don’t get back up ”, Peggy Caruso and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Failure is only failure when you don’t get back up — stepping stones to success. I’ve learned that incremental steps are key to setting and reaching goals. We tend to become overwhelmed easily and especially if you set your goal too high. Taking a step is better than taking no step. As a part of our series about […]

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Failure is only failure when you don’t get back up — stepping stones to success. I’ve learned that incremental steps are key to setting and reaching goals. We tend to become overwhelmed easily and especially if you set your goal too high. Taking a step is better than taking no step.


As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewingPeggy Caruso.

Peggy Caruso is a certified executive and personal development coach. An NLP master practitioner and a relaxation therapist, she is also an eight-time entrepreneur with nearly three decades of experience. Peggy is the founder/host of “The Revolutionize Podcast.” She is also the author of four books which are part of her wildly popular REVOLUTIONIZE® series: Revolutionize Your Child’s Life (2014), Revolutionize Your Life (2017), Revolutionize Your Corporate Life (2017) and the upcoming Take the First Shot: Strategies to Fire You Up and Change Your Life (2021). A proud mother who raised two children independently and a grandmother to one, Caruso’s fourth book, Take the First Shot, will be available in early 2021 on Amazon, BN.com, and LifeCoachingandBeyond.com. You can connect with Caruso on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and through her website: LifeCoachingandBeyond.com.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I am from a middle-class family of 5 siblings, my mother was a stay-at-home mom and our family only had one vehicle, so we were unable to participate in any extra-curricular activities. Being an extremely introverted child (and it carried well into adulthood), having many fears and being filled with low self-esteem, led me to poor decision making, setbacks, manipulation from other people, and stagnation.

College was not an option for me after I graduated from high school due to financial hardships, so I found a job and began saving. Deep in my heart I knew that I was different than the other members of my family, but I wasn’t sure why or what that meant. Writing and dreaming were my favorite pastimes.

Feeling prepared to attend college at the age of 20 gave me a sense of accomplishment, but I became pregnant so I couldn’t go. I didn’t want to get married because I felt as though it would be a mistake, however, my parents were adamant about it. I did marry and three years later became pregnant with my second child. The marriage was headed in the direction that I thought it would — financial difficulties, immaturity, serious obstacles, etc. So, as you can imagine, it ended in divorce.

My second child has a life-threatening illness, which made work-life balance extremely difficult. Their father signed custody over to me, so I raised them alone both financially and emotionally. There was a time when I was only making minimum wage, so it was a huge financial obstacle.

Ending up in multiple, abusive relationships throughout my life, brought many moments of fear and disappointment. However, I managed to get through those difficulties due to my entrepreneurial mindset. I climbed the corporate ladder, battled my son’s illness, acquired my education on the side and began a business.

Later in life, I ended up owning eight successful businesses and began changing everything about myself. It was difficult and I had many hard lessons, but I managed to struggle through the difficulties.

There were several people who stole from me and in one scenario I lost my entire life savings. Starting all over again was just one more burden. Stress was very high, but I learned many tools and techniques to change behavioral patterns, find calmness of mind, eliminate stress and find balance.

My sister, who was also my very best friend, ended up taking her life. It was a very traumatic experience that also took its toll on me. A few years after that happened, my father passed away unexpectedly, and it separated me from my family (except my Mom and children). It too, was very difficult and emotionally exhausting.

Then, 3 years ago, I woke up and could barely walk. It was like someone flipped a switch. I went from this high functioning, very active person to someone who couldn’t walk up and down stairs without assistance. I couldn’t do squats or get down on the floor without someone picking me up. My medical tests were all good and no medical doctor could figure it out.

After exhausting all efforts, my PCP sent me to the Cleveland Clinic, where I met an amazing neurologist. He said my autonomic system was on overdrive and it was due to severe trauma in my past. I informed him I did not want to take any medication, so he began to retrain my mind by taking me back to childhood with exercise.

It was a lengthy process and after 3 years I am cured. It was hard to have faith in the process, but I utilized my own mind strengthening tools, relaxation techniques and willpower. I implemented my teachings with his program and between the two of us — we reached success! Utilizing my own teachings solidified why I am so successful at what I do.

Looking back at the difficulties, I wouldn’t change anything because I learned many valuable lessons and reached success. My experiences have helped me become a very successful executive and personal development coach. I now have my own podcast and am the author of 4 books in the ‘Revolutionize’ series, which is trademarked through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

While climbing the corporate ladder I experienced many bosses who were out of line in many areas. Being introverted did not help those situations because I was afraid to speak out. After many incidents I became extremely passionate about owning my own business. Therefore, I began a side business as a Notary Public/Signing Agent. It gave me the desire to be on my own.

Implementing the principles, I’ve learned through the years, overcoming so many obstacles, and changing my behavioral patterns allowed me the confidence and willpower to become so successful.

I have learned to be grateful for the negative people and circumstances I endured in my life. It made me stronger, enforced my inner core values, and made me grateful for all the offensive bosses I had — thank you.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Having a very rough life left me feeling hopeless, at times. I always knew there was something or someone out there who could help me bring out the true part of who I am. When I began to study personal development, I became very familiar with Bob Proctor. Writing my first book in the Revolutionize series, I wanted to find someone famous who would read it and perhaps provide me with a foreword.

It was 9:00 a.m. and I decided that I would try to contact Bob Proctor, so I called one of his representatives to potentially sign up for a program that he was promoting. When the man answered I told him that I would not sign up unless I was able to talk to Bob personally. Needless to say, he laughed and said, “Wouldn’t anyone wish to talk to Bob Proctor?”

We went back and forth multiple times and I stood my ground. I insisted he put him on the phone. He said, “Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. He is in California and it is only 6:00 a.m. there.” I said, “Wake him up.” He really laughed at that point. He thought for a moment and asked me to hold. It took a little while and I heard a connection with a voice that said, “I don’t know who you are or what you want, but this better be good.”

Yes…it was Bob Proctor. I told him that I wanted him to read my book and endorse it. He informed me that he was going on a trip, but if I sent him my book, he would read it on the plane and if he liked it, he would write a foreword.

Well…he read it and he actually gave me an audio endorsement that I could use in my Revolutionize series. I went to the event he was having in Toronto and from there — he changed my life. It was his teachings that inspired my personal growth. He is an amazing man and I consider him a dear friend.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Of the 8 businesses that I have owned, 3 have been restaurants. Theft is the most interesting and funny. The reason is because I have encountered a lot of theft in the industry. What was most interesting was that many times it was the person(s) that you least suspected. It was a hard lesson because you expect people to be honest.

Looking back, I should’ve realized it because the first thing I did before getting into the restaurant industry was to figure out why they fail. There were 3 reasons and one of them was theft. I went into the industry realizing strangers would steal, but I never thought someone I knew would take anything from me. I am a very generous person, so I would give to those in need.

The reason I say some of the theft was funny is because of what the public steals from a restaurant. A customer once stole an entire place setting. They brought a large shopping bag in and that’s how they were able to get it out. I soon figured it out and confronted the person. Some people steal silverware, salt and pepper shakers, glasses, etc.

The lesson was trust! It must be earned. I was very fortunate to have so many wonderful employees and customers. The good, far outweighed the bad. I learned how to implement great procedures to eliminate theft, but in the process, there were scenarios that made me laugh and those that were just…hmmm…interesting.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

You are absolutely correct when you say the road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. There are so many instances where you cry, fall down and truly want to give up, but it’s so important when things get tough…keep going!

Failure is only failure when you don’t get back up — stepping stones to success. I’ve learned that incremental steps are key to setting and reaching goals. We tend to become overwhelmed easily and especially if you set your goal too high. Taking a step is better than taking no step.

Early on I knew that I needed to make positive changes. It is a very difficult process because you must begin by knowing what role you play in your mistakes and most people don’t like to admit that they do things wrong. I have always been a good person with sincere values at heart, but I still made a lot of mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself! You can and will reach success if you begin by strengthening your mind and creating calmness within yourself.

I used to attribute my success to always being fast paced and working hard. However, it’s the complete opposite. Once you learn to slow down, wind down and calm down, you will be far more productive.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, has impacted my life in many ways. The principles he speaks of are ones that I also teach and am very passionate about. They teach you how to make positive life changes.

The part of the book that resonates the most with me is the chapter about his son. He was born without the ability to hear, but Napoleon never gave up hope and in spite of his hearing disability, he wouldn’t allow it to interfere with his life. He continually implemented positive affirmations and gratitude. Napoleon taught him how to become an entrepreneur, which is also my passion. I have taught many children how to begin a business.

One particular story was when I took in a little girl that had endured bullying and abuse. After performing a skill set exercise on her and found that she was very artistic. I bought her a program on how to become a cartoonist so she could start building a business. Teaching success principle to children helps them reach success as an adult. She is now 22 and owns her own dog grooming business.

I truly believe from my own life experiences that hardships made me focused and gave me the willpower to strive for entrepreneurism.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Why does that resonate with you so much?

My favorite life lesson quote is, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” by Eleanor Roosevelt. I love that quote and have worked hard on that in my own life. Too often, many people allow others to make them feel bad. It is a very difficult thing to change, but once you learn how to do it, you experience life changing results.

It provides a sense of strength and freedom because you become confident in your own feelings and actions without having to worry about the opinions of others. It allows you to be grateful for who and what you are. You know your own internal values and that is all that matters.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have many projects going on, but the one I am most passionate about is my books. I began writing so that I can use a portion of the profits to start a non-profit children’s academy, which is similar to an orphanage. I love helping children and I truly believe that teaching success principles to them will help them reach success as adults. Incorporating the power of positivity, along with understanding success principles will teach them how to become an entrepreneur or understand the corporate arena.

Until I am able to start the academy I am actively involved with other orphanages and I continually teach about the gift of giving. My grandson is 13 and he is constantly working hard on helping those less fortunate. He and I partnered with a non-profit to raise enough money to provide shoes, socks and blankets for a 400 children orphanage in India.

In my coaching business I also teach children about the 3 S’s — Save, Share and Spend. It provides them a sense of giving and allows them to become responsible with their own finances.

Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

Stress can affect our lives in many ways. It can cause physical and emotional issues. Everyone needs to find ways to eliminate stress for a more positive and productive lifestyle so here are a few strategies that can help you.

Draw the Line — Work-life balance! It is imperative to find the balance between personal and professional because they go hand-in-hand. Learning how to leave work at work and home at home is a great strategy to eliminate stress from both areas. There are so many techniques you can use to create the work-life balance, but I’ll share an example for each.

Invite Yourself to Dinner! — Call your spouse or significant other on the way home from work and let them know you are looking forward to a great family dinner together. When you arrive at home, remember to silence your phone and SHOW UP! Family dinners that involve no cell phones, a calm environment, and engagement in conversation that concerns everyone’s day is like hitting the jackpot! You get to discover what going on in everyone’s life, and it’s an opportunity for you to talk about your own goals.

Avoid Toxins! — This is where you set boundaries and discard those useless items. Setting boundaries is huge because it allows you to take pressure off and focus more on you. Don’t do anything that causes you anxiety and resentment. In addition to setting boundaries, learn to say ‘no.’ Saying no will free up additional time for you so you are able to accomplish more during the work day.

Set a Goal — It’s Your Ace in the Hole! Setting personal and professional goals is a strategy that will help to eliminate stress. Once you begin to work through obstacles and learn accountability measures it will begin to remove stress. It’s a plan of action that is thought out and written down…your own map.

Keep your mind on what you want and off of what you don’t want. It will create an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and guides your behavior. Having this map will require you to get organized. Goals will help to eliminate procrastination (which also causes stress), improve performance, and intensify motivation and persistence. Once you have a clear direction, it will affect how you see yourself and you will begin to recognize success from within. It will decrease negativity and increase positivity.

If You Snooze You Lose — Time Management! This is an area that is filled with many techniques. Once you learn how to manage time it will absolutely help eliminate stressors. Give yourself extra time the night before. Prepare as many things in advance that you can. It will allow you to begin your day without pressure. You can also try to get up before the rest of your family so that you have time to quiet your mind.

When you arrive at work, check your email and try to limit yourself to email only twice per day. Just as limiting time on email will help you manage your time better, so will setting an appointment with yourself. We all tend to keep appointments because we have them scheduled so do the same with things you need to do for yourself.

As for the colleagues and conversation interruptions, place a Do Not Disturb sign on your door until you have your project completed. You can also learn to delegate some of the smaller things.

The aforementioned are 3 ways to begin strategizing to eliminate stress. There are many strategies, but if you begin with these 3 you will feel more positive and have the ability to focus on tasks. One of the things I tell my clients is that when you begin to feel stressed, ask yourself, Can I change it? If you can, How? If you can’t, you must get it out of your mind. If you can’t change something you need to get it out or it will cause you stress.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

Creating an awareness of anticipated situations that you know are going to be stressful will allow you to strategize a plan to optimize your mind for peak performance.

Prepare the Plan! Do as much research as you can to prepare for intense situations. Understand the type of personality of the person(s) who will be attending so you can figure out how to effectively communicate your point. Understand the subject so you can have the facts you need. Being prepared will optimize your mind and eliminate some of the stress. Have a plan to steer the situation to the desired outcome.

Plan for the beginning and the end. Remember, anticipation of how the situation is going to go will allow you to come up with ways to diffuse any stress. Begin by thinking of ‘worst case scenario’ and once you solve it in your mind, you will take the pressure off. Then plan ahead for the end. It is always a good idea to have an exit strategy. Therefore, if it something goes in a direction you weren’t planning for, it will help you explain that you will need additional time to strategize.

Clear the Clutter! Clear your mind of distractions! Calm your mind of any thoughts relative to other issues. If you allow your mind to wander it will automatically make you stressed. Be in the moment. Implement mindfulness! Avoid anything that will cause you to think of other things.

Eliminate Interruptions! While you are implementing a plan and clearing your mind, it is very beneficial to eliminate any anticipated interruptions. This will allow you to stay focused on the subject at hand. One thing you need to do is to shut your phone off. Phones are definitely an interruption.

Don’t allow yourself to be near your email while working on a project. It is also a huge distraction.

Having strategies in place to keep you focused and on track is vital in eliminating stress.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

There is a breathing technique I use that helps eliminate anxiety and stressful situations. It works! If it doesn’t work, you aren’t doing it correctly. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it and then exhale very slowly through your mouth. Do it 3 times. The calming part of the technique is when you exhale slowly. However, if you don’t take enough in you won’t have enough to expel.

Meditation works, but you must find the technique that works for your type of personality. I can sit in total silence and clear my mind, but it is too difficult to do that if you have never meditated before. I highly recommend guided meditation for beginners.

I also use a vision board to support my goals and then stare at it daily. It places your desires on the screen of your mind and it is very effective. Use pictures of things that support your goal.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

Build Your Foundation! I teach clients to understand what I call a MENTAL FOUNDATION. Just as a house has a foundation to support the weight, we need a mental foundation to help us develop a strong focus and clear away distractions. Many people struggle with the development of their mental strength because we can’t see the progress for so long. If you stay consistent your mind will be very strong.

The first part is meditation — Repeat the Mantra! Meditation is difficult so many people don’t want to implement it. For beginners, I recommend guided meditation. Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey offer a FREE 20-day guided meditation program several times throughout the year. It’s great! Oprah does the opening and then Deepak does a meditation. He helps to keep you focused on the mantra or the positive message. When your mind begins to wander, you keep focused on the word/message and it helps keep you focused. The last part is spa music to help you learn how to do quiet meditation.

The second part of the mental foundation is journaling — Journal the Journey! Journaling is very effective. It helps you release your negatives. Writing them down is a release. And it also helps you track your progress. Looking back through it will help you realize how long you used to stay in the negative. As you get stronger and more positive, you won’t stay stuck in the negative so long.

Third is positive affirmations — Speak the Truth! Continual repetition of positive statements provides resilience to the meditation. They are extremely effective and will assist with turning negatives to positive. Say them in the positive tense.

Examples:

“I can…”

“I will…”

“I’m grateful not that….”

Align your positive affirmations with your goals. They will help strengthen your mind to believe that you CAN and WILL achieve your goals!

The fourth part is an Attitude of Gratitude! Being grateful creates an internal feeling of positivity and appreciation for all the things in our lives, big and small. You should be saying five things you are grateful for every day, and they should be different each day. You will appreciate everything positive in your life, and it will even help change how you communicate. It will also eliminate negativity.

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Positive and negative cannot occupy the mind at the same time. Negative is the dominant emotion so we must work additionally hard at turning bad habits into good ones. Throughout my life I have journaled good times and bad, success and failure. In doing so, I looked for habits that aided in my success and built upon them.

Here are a few examples:

  • Try and Try Again! Eliminate procrastination and replace it with persistence. It will help you follow through on deadlines.
  • Constantly Consistent! Stay consistent in your actions.
  • Keep an Eye on the Target! Form a habit to visually look at your goals (vision board). Make it part of your daily routine.
  • Modify Your Mental Mindset! Form new habits to keep your mind strong (mental foundation).
  • Outline Your Organizational Habits! Use lists to help you keep things organized in your career.
  • Manage Your Time and Stress! Apply techniques to assist you with time and stress. Form the habit!

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

A person develops great habits for optimal performance by repetitiveness. With creating new habits, you must continually repeat the behavior. Stay consistent and repeat as often as you can.

You begin to stop bad habits by behavioral recognition. Recognizing when you do something that is negative is the very first step relative to replacing it with positive.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

You need to be very passionate about your choice of career. Once you are passionate about your choices and direction, it will be easier to get into a flow. With education and experience you gain the confidence and ability to master the skills in your profession.

Staying consistent is an ingredient in the recipe for positive flow. It takes years of dedication and focus, which produces the results that will take your business to the next level. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Once you see results you become additionally motivated. Incorporating good habits to keep you focused and on track will soon put you in a rhythmic movement. Remember to advance with technology and the current status of the world. Constantly moving and advancing will put you in a productive state of Flow that will continually strengthen your abilities.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Give the Gift of Giving! This is something I implement in my personal life, as well as my professional. I always say, “Focus on one thing…one person…at a time!” If each individual plays a role in helping those less fortunate and teaches another to do the same, we will eventually have a large number of people giving and helping.

Begin with our young children. Teaching them the importance of giving creates harmony within them. It is easier to form a new, positive habit in children. The gift of giving gives them a sense of appreciation for those less fortunate.

It also creates an awareness relative to the needs of others and sparks creativity within them. They begin to collaborate with adults, which results in powerful synergy!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them.

Oprah Winfrey. I feel as though she and I share similar values and we both love to help others…especially children. I continually help and give to those less fortunate and as I previously stated, an orphanage/child’s academy is a huge goal of mine.

We both have a history of hardships, but have proven that positivity, focus, and dedication provide us the determination to succeed. Obstacles can produce failure or success — it’s your choice. One of my favorite stories is ‘Burn the Boats,’ where the Greek warriors stormed the shore and were commanded to burn the boats. You have the choice to win or perish. Oprah and I both chose to WIN!!!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: www.lifecoachingandbeyond.com

Email: [email protected]

I am the founder and host of “The Revolutionize Podcast.”

Social Media:

FaceBook: peggy.caruso.92

FaceBook (business) lifecoachingandbeyond

LinkedIn: peggycaruso1

Twitter: @pegcaruso

Instagram: peggycaruso00

YouTube: [email protected]

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Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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