Overcoming the Fear of Failure with Bonita Norris

Lessons in Determination, Resilience, and Growth

Dr Gemma Robert’s had the pleasure of speaking to the remarkable Bonita Norris, adventurer, motivational speaker, author and record holder on the Mindset Matters Podcast back in November 2023. We go on a truly extraordinary journey with Bonita and explore the lessons she’s learnt before, after and during her remarkable expedition. We uncover invaluable life lessons that can inspire and guide us on our own paths to success.

“Failure wasn’t the end; it was part of the journey. I learned from my experiences and kept going.” – Bonita

Connecting with Nature, Others, and Oneself

Bonita’s Everest expedition is more than just a climb; it symbolises a profound connection, which runs through in all aspects of her life. Bonita says:

“For me thriving is about connection to three fundamental aspects of life. Firstly, it’s about connecting with nature, feeling the earth beneath your feet and the wind against your skin. Secondly, it’s about the bonds we share with others, whether it’s our team, our family, or the people we cherish most, who make us feel like we belong. And finally, it’s about connecting with ourselves – understanding our own bodies, our breath, and pursuing goals that ignite our passion. When you live a life where you’re deeply connected to nature, others, and yourself, that’s when you experience true joy and fulfilment. That, to me, is what it means to thrive.”

As she shares her story, it’s clear that living a life rooted in these connections brings immeasurable joy and fulfilment for Bonita. The journey to Everest was not just about being the youngest woman to reach the summit, but about forging a deeper connection with the world around her.

From Inspiration to Aspiration

At the young age of 20, Bonita was captivated by a lecture on mountaineering, igniting within her a burning aspiration to conquer Everest. Over the course of two years, she embarked on a relentless pursuit of her goal, overcoming self-doubt and external scepticism with unwavering determination. Bonita’s journey serves as a powerful reminder that with a clear vision and unwavering commitment, even the loftiest of aspirations can be within reach. She said:

“It was a proud moment, showing what discipline and a big vision can achieve”.

The Evolution of Perspective

Reflecting on her journey, Bonita reveals that her understanding of these connections evolved over time, and it was through these connections that Bonita found the strength and resilience to face the challenges that lay ahead on her Everest expedition. She said:

“Every day felt like a blessing, and I was determined to reach the summit. It was a unique feeling of purpose and gratitude”.

Bonita had moments of guilt, shame, self-doubt and frustration, but refused to let negative emotions define her, choosing instead to learn from her experiences and grow stronger. This journey of self-discovery and resilience ultimately led her to a place of acceptance and renewed determination.

Embracing Failure and Intuition

Failure was not the end but rather a crucial part of Bonita’s journey to the summit of Everest. Drawing from her own experiences and intuition, she learned to navigate setbacks and challenges with grace and resilience, Bonita explained that:

Failure can be motivating. I saw my father persevere through financial hardship, and I faced my own struggles with an eating disorder. These experiences taught me that failure isn’t the end; it’s an opportunity to try something different.”

Lessons from the Descent

The journey down from the summit of Everest was a stark contrast to the elation of reaching the top. While the summit offered a brief moment of triumph, the descent presented a daunting reality: the true finish line was back at base camp, and the dangers were far from over for Bonita and her team. In a moment of impulsive decision-making, Bonita attempted to leap over a ledge, only to find herself free-falling momentarily before landing hard on the mountain. The pain surged through her. She struggled with the pain and the slow pace of descent, her frustrations grew, until finally, a teammate’s words snapped her back to reality:

“If we don’t move, we’re going to die here”.

The descent was gruelling, each step a reminder of the mistakes that had led them to that point. Despite setbacks, she emerged stronger, learning valuable lessons in perseverance and humility and resilience in the face of adversity. Bonita said:

“As I reflect on that experience now, I see it not as a failure, but as a stepping stone on the path to greater heights. It taught me valuable lessons about perseverance, humility, and the importance of accountability. And while the scars may still linger, they serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown.”

Finding Purpose Amidst Adversity

In the aftermath of Everest, Bonita grappled with feelings of guilt and failure, despite the accolades and external praise she received. However, she refused to let her setbacks define her, choosing instead to learn and grow from the experience. Bonita’s journey serves as a powerful reminder that true success is not measured by external validation but by the strength of character and resilience that lies within.

A Renewed Sense of Purpose

In the wake of her Everest expedition, Bonita continues to push herself, embracing new challenges and opportunities with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. She acknowledges the scars of her journey but sees them as a testament to her growth and resilience. Bonita’s journey serves as an inspiration to us all, reminding us that with unwavering determination and resilience, anything is possible.

Even now, as she writes her novel, she finds a new perspective and reason why the fear of failure doesn’t stop her from writing, Bonita explains:

“You’re up against this industry that is so competitive, the chances of success are so slim. I’ve got no guarantee that I will get published and sell, and two years of work will all be for nothing. But sometimes the process in itself is enough. And the joy of the moments when it’s working and learning about how to do it and craft it and the achievement of getting to the end is actually what I’m looking forward to. So I will keep going with that despite having no guarantee of ever seeing the light of day, there’s still a chance. And honestly, even if I knew I would absolutely fail, I would still write this novel!”

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