Authority Magazine interviews Lisa Niver: “Becoming Free from The Fear of Failure”


Thank you Savio P. Clemente and AUTHORITY MAGAZINE for interviewing me for their series: Becoming Free from The Fear of Failure

Lisa Niver of ‘We Said Go Travel’ On Becoming Free from The Fear of Failure

An Interview with Savio P. Clemente

Sometimes in order to move forward you have to ask for help. During my 50 challenges project, I was invited for a women’s ski weekend in Lake Tahoe. The team asked me to come back in the summer for Pumps and Pedals, a women’s biking project. I said, “NO! I am afraid.” My friend, Marcie, said, “I am scared too but we can do it together.” Step four is to find a friend so you can support each other and move mountains or at least ride them!

The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free from the Fear of Failure.”

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lisa Niver. Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate worked for Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises for seven years and then backpacked across Asia for three years. Read her articles across the internet and social media everywhere from AAA & AARP to WIRED & Wharton Magazine as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2022, find her talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel, with over 1.7 million views, and in her memoir coming out in Fall 2023.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Growing up I excelled at school especially in science. I thought I wanted to be a doctor and enrolled at USCF Medical School in San Francisco. I realized while I was there, that I was in the wrong place. Suddenly, I was not sure what to do next. I started teaching which I loved and learned to scuba dive in Monterey Bay, California. I could not afford exotic trips on my salary and started to brainstorm how I could travel more. If I had not listened to the little voice inside of me that said, NO MORE, I would have missed out on so much. Many people viewed my dropping out of medical school as a terrible decision, however, it was the right thing for me. I just took it one step at a time and have now traveled to over 100 countries on six continents.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

When I was teaching science to K-6th grade in Los Angeles, during one class of fifth grade science, I said, “I took all of these videos in Taiwan on Spring Break, but I do not know how to make a movie.” Hannah, one of my students, said, “Don’t worry, Ms. N, I will stay in at recess and teach you iMovie.” I had a 6-minute lesson which started me on my YouTube and television success. Over the years, I have taken many classes and worked with experts, but I never forgot the best reverse mentoring ever!



You are a successful leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I think the character traits that are most important to my success are being curious, kind, and passionate. When I was teaching and the students needed to work in groups, we always talked about how it was more important to be kind than smart. It would be better to be both, but people will always remember how you make them feel.

When I was traveling on my first safari in Kenya, we met a group of students studying tourism at the small local outdoor airport. I was so enthralled with speaking to them; I almost missed my flight. I am extremely curious. I have many questions. I wanted to know more about their project and their goals.

Due to my passion for education, the arts, and the environment, I am always focused on learning something new. I love to read books and go to classes and conferences.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?

Failure is frightening to us because we are taught that it is a win/lose proposition. Some people are winners, and some are losers. Some succeed and some fail. But that is not the entire truth. We can change our path and our goals and sometimes we learn much more when things do not go as planned.

What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?

If you are afraid of failing, it is very challenging to try something brand new where you are a true beginner. We do not look at a baby who takes their first steps and falls and say, “That baby is a failure at walking.” We all need a chance to learn and grow and for those around us to be patient with us.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the fear of failure can help improve our lives?

The fear of failure or the belief that failure is the end of the road is terrifying to most of us. But we are not getting graded on how we pack our lunch or our suitcase or on most of our life choices. We can try new things. We can begin again. We do not need to be good at everything or even like everything. But maybe we will find something that really sparks joy in our hearts.

We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?

I mentioned earlier that I left medical school and began teaching and then traveling full time. After 9/11 when my cruise company went bankrupt within seven days, I returned to Los Angeles and taught school again. I met a man who loved to travel and during an eleven-month international expedition, we got engaged. After our wedding, we took a second year long trip to Southeast Asia and things did not go well, and I came home alone. I felt like a complete failure.

How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?

I had tried so hard to make my marriage work and once I was back in Los Angeles alone, I had to work on myself to rebound and recover. During COVID, I signed with a book agent and sold my story of how I reinvented myself doing 50 challenges before I turned 50. My memoir will be out in Fall 2023!

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure. Please share a story or an example for each.

The first step to be free of the fear of failure is to cultivate a growth mindset. Another way to say that is “TRY TRY AGAIN!” Recently when I was at Beaches Turks and Caicos, the Sesame Street characters sang a song with advice: “I wonder, What if, Let’s Try.” This can help you have a new plan for most situations. When I was first back in Los Angeles getting divorced, I joined a salsa dance team as a way to meet new people. I was afraid I would not be good enough for the team, but everyone was supportive, and I got so much better. I was glad I was willing to grow into a better dancer.

This quote from Mark Twain can help us with step two: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Every journey begins with the first step. Whenever I get overwhelmed that I cannot finish my book, that it is just too big a project, my friend Julie asks me, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time.” If I focus on the next small task, I can move forward.

The third step is to evaluate the risks and benefits. When I was traveling in Indonesia, we heard about a place where you could swim with stingless jellyfish. We took a long boat ride to Kakavan Island and walked up several flights of stairs to a lake that had more jellyfish than I had ever seen. I was terrified. What if it was not true, what if they did sting? We were far away from any kind of help. I realized that my fears were trying to win. I thought about it and jumped into the lake. It was absolutely amazing! I was open to this unique encounter because I talked back to my fears.

Sometimes in order to move forward you have to ask for help. During my 50 challenges project, I was invited for a women’s ski weekend in Lake Tahoe. The team asked me to come back in the summer for Pumps and Pedals, a women’s biking project. I said, “NO! I am afraid.” My friend, Marcie, said, “I am scared too but we can do it together.” Step four is to find a friend so you can support each other and move mountains or at least ride them!

The final step is to find your happy! I often say, “Celebrate Early and Often.” We need to acknowledge our accomplishments so that we can see how far we have come and realize we are stronger and more capable than we think! If we only focus on things that “fail,” we will miss out on the joy of what is going well. We can give ourselves partial credit for all of our attempts.

The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?

Aristotle wrote in the book of Nicomachean Ethics about the importance of good character and how happiness comes from achieving all the “goods” of health, wealth, knowledge, and love that leads to an enriching human life. I have found that being kind, helpful and supportive to your family, team and community does lead to a life of happiness and gratitude.

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

I would like to highlight what PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) is doing to save our seas. Learning to dive changed my whole life and the PADI Torchbearers project is committed to creating ocean change and leading a powerful movement to take local action for global impact to save sharks. “Over a third of all species of sharks and rays are facing extinction in our lifetimes. The biggest threat to sharks is overfishing. Sharks play a critical role in marine ecosystems, so as populations rapidly decline around the world so too does the health of the ocean. But we have a chance to create change. CITES is a United Nations agreement that is binding in 184 countries and limits the international trade of identified animals at risk, like sharks.” Learn more here about how you can participate.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would love to meet Reese Witherspoon. Her work to promote books and create films with strong female characters is outstanding. Through her book club, I have met incredible authors who I now call friends.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

YouTube ChannelWe Said Go Travel


Twitter: lisaniver

Instagram: lisaniver

Pinterest: We Said Go Travel

Facebook: lisa.niver

LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (8,500 contacts)

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

Thank you so much for including me in your interview series!
Lisa Niver, We Said Go Travel

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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