Learn from your mistakes, know your worth, and choose your friends wisely, was Tina Arena AM’s advice to attendees at the annual Moonee Valley Women in Business luncheon in March.
Fresh from her sold-out season playing Eva Peron in the Australian production of Evita, Arena shared stories from her inspirational life, from her childhood debut on Young Talent Time to establishing herself as one of Australia’s biggest selling female artists.
Describing herself as a spirited child, Arena recounted an idyllic childhood filled with music and nurtured by her parents. “My foundations are built on magical combination of love and a lot of hard work,” Arena told the 500 guests at the luncheon.
“My upbringing enabled me to withstand all the challenges and weather all the storms I’ve experienced along way, and taught me to be grateful for every challenge because every storm that rocks your world sets you up for the future.”
Arena said if she could wind back the clock, there are three universal lessons – equally applicable to the arts, retail, banking, the fashion and food industries – that she’d tell her teenaged self.
Learn from your mistakes
“Mistakes are not failures, but opportunities for growth,” she implored the audience. “Successful people are not weighed down by their mistakes, they find lessons to take from the most challenging scenarios, and when they fall, they pick themselves up and dust themselves off.”
Arena said that children are conditioned to see mistakes as failures, and taught at school that if they fail they are not good enough. Admitting that she’d made mistakes over the course of her career, hit rock bottom, and had to start from scratch, Arena said she’s equally inspired by those who make mistakes as she is by those who succeed.
“Nobody sets out to fail. Along the way I’ve had the option to let my mistakes define me, or to learn from them, and I’ve chosen very deliberately to learn from them.
“We learn nothing from giving up at the first stumble,” she said. “Raw talent will only take you so far sheer grit gets you over the line. Be brave. Try and try again.
Know your worth
Arena acknowledged that our social media-dominated society can be intensely undermining, but appealed to her audience to know their worth, and not to let today’s selfie-culture undermine their self-esteem.
“Growing up on TV, I was conditioned to value opinion of others and to work for the applause,” she said. “My sense of self-worth depended on the opinions of others. That’s a hard habit to break and I still struggle with it from time to time.
“I thank the universe that social media wasn’t around when I was growing up. Today we blindly hand over our sense of self to anyone with a keyboard or smartphone.”
And Arena encouraged attendees not to be afraid to put a price on their worth, saying: “If I had a dollar for everyone who asked me to work for ‘exposure’ I’d never have to work again. Why should I be doing my job for nothing? Stand your ground, don’t put your sense of self in the hands of others and walk away from situations where you’re not valued.”
Choose your friends wisely
Arena’s third piece of universal wisdom was to surround yourself with good people, explaining that she subscribes to motivational speaker Jim Rohn’s theory that an individual is the average of the five people they spend the most time with. Personal relationships greatly influence her thinking, self-esteem, and decision making, she said.
“I find energy is contagious so I’m very mindful of who I surround myself with,” said Arena. “Positivity is paramount, it’s not negotiable for me. “Go home and make a list of those you spend most time with. Ask if they are good for you, whether they spark joy? If your answer is no, then out they go!”
In an era of technological connectivity, Arena said society has become more disconnected than ever before, and called for a return to multigenerational living with women of different ages sharing wisdom and support for the benefit of ‘the village’.
“I strongly believe it takes a village to thrive in all aspects of life,” said Arena. “My village helps me express myself with an open heart, lightens the load and saves me from dis-ease.
“Surrounding yourself with good eggs who push you to do better, protect you, and pick you up when you have fallen is the secret ingredient of success.”