Be uncomfortable — Experiment with different skills, approaches, and tactics in your life as it builds confidence and fosters mental toughness.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Bonnie Frankel.
Bonnie Frankel prefers to be challenged beyond the limits of her comfort zone because she knows that it will allow her to build to thrive in her belief in herself. She has realized that this bias attitude in believing in herself is essential in achieving her goals. Bonnie Frankel wasn’t always wired like this, she developed it through trusting her intuition, common sense, and mistakes.
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 recall my mother’s words describing me when I was a youngster, “Don’t worry about Bonnie, she can take care of herself.” Her words began my quest in believing in myself as they remain with me today. Even though my mother was troubled with her emotional instability, she possessed the gift of intuitiveness. Early in my childhood, I spent as much of my time peacefully meditating/day dreaming in the sanctuary of my bedroom. This process allowed me the opportunity to develop the skill to get to know what makes me tick which reassured me to have faith in myself. When stressful events occurred in my life, the belief in myself reassured me that I could manage them as well as knowing that something else in my life would benefit.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story?
Returning to the educational system was the beginning of change to experience a cycle to a new exciting, different, and meaningful life. It also enhanced my opportunity to go full speed ahead with my commitment to not only increase my academic knowledge but to trust my six- sense coupled with my commonsense. It introduced me to an athletic sport that became my BFF. My coach the late Pat Cady would continuously remind me to have patience with the progress of climbing the ladder to be the best. Often, he reiterated that it takes time to develop an elite athlete. He compared me to one of the team runners on the infamous Santa Monica Track Team. The runner had been running since she was a youngster and I had just started in my late forties. There were many components to learn from this sport which would guide me to grow myself and to later share with others. I would delve deeper to expand in educating myself and knowledge from others in how to maintain a healthy body and mind. My sixth sense directed me to take the chance which would lead me to a robust, loved, and lasting career.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was Head Cross Country Coach at Loyola Marymount University, I recall an incident after a race. I was driving the bus on the freeway with my athletes aboard, when one of my athletes yelled “I have to pee.” Then another voice uttered, “She can’t hold her liquor.” Giddy up, I immediately pulled over and found beer cans as there was not one but a few indulging. They told me it was apple juice. Never could I imagine that these kids would be drinking in a bus after a race that would not only risk a ticket but they were also minors. Team rules were drafted by the team and myself, however, they were never enforced by the college. I never would’ve thought that these kids were capable of pulling the wool over my eyes. I gave them the nick name, “the bad news bears.”
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am working on designing an elliptical machine that would add more flexibility and strength by extending it to have more angles of motion, and yet kinder to the body. Writing articles as well as lecturing to groups about the importance of finding the right exercise is so important to me. Most people, don’t exercise because they don’t pick the right exercise to enjoy. Also, I am speaking to groups that have learning disabilities to encourage them to exercise in order for them to have a clearer mindset because it helps reduce anxiety. As I continually run, I serve as a role model because people watch as well as stop me and want to follow my lead.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
You are your biggest cheerleader and when you trust yourself, the world is your oyster. If you don’t possess self-efficacy, your life can be your biggest nightmare. Believing in yourself not only helps you to enhance to adopt to grow your mindset but it also cultivates your ability to accept and learn from your mistakes. It is comparable to what physical exercise does for your brain as when you learn something new or overcome a hurdle or two because it releases a dopamine in your brain. You physically feel better, your mind is sharper, and your emotions are in sync. It sets the stage for you to develop more courage but continues to improve your success in goal setting. If you can believe, you can achieve. Recently at the age of seventy- eight I was running five miles of hilly trails, my shoe hit a rock and I did a summersault landing on my back. Got up, dusted myself off and trusted the strength of my body and mind finished my workout. By believing and intuitively knowing that my own diagnosis was correct, it set the stage for me to do something even more challenging in a different area in my life. Another example was my belief that the educational system was going to be important in many ways. I had the courage to return with knowing that it would challenge me. My sixth sense believed that I could find a way to adjust to it by using exercise as it lessened my anxiety and instrumented my genius to find other tools to help me learn.
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
It simply signifies that you have faith in your own capabilities. You can accomplish to thrive in something that is within your range of your ability. When you have self-efficacy, you are the king or queen of your domain. You are fearless as you take charge to overcome your self-doubt and have the confidence to take action and get things accomplished that you never thought you could do. When you lack self-confidence, it puts you in a stagnant position. You are less likely to act, to change, or to put the pedal to the medal to make things better or even make an effort to try new things. You take the easy way out, by not taking action and think that life is nothing but a humdrum. You can put your mindset to anything within reason. If you have an interest in whatever you want to pursue, if you believe in yourself, you can do it. It is not the importance of the talent, because talent is there. The most important component is the desire to believe. Where there is a will, there’s a way.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
When I was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, it untimely interrupted my training to qualify for the Olympic Trials. I had to have surgery immediately and had an artificial hip put in my right hip. Having this difficult surgery is where I lost the belief that I would be able to return to being an elite runner once again. The process to the road of recovery was painful and laborious. It frankly scared the living daylights out of me. Never being much of a successful quitter, I trusted my intuition to believe in my ability to run and go for the gold. My love for the sport had a significant impact on me but setting the bar high not only for me but to inspire others to try and pursue something that they thought was impossible to do.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
When I was re-cooperating from my hip surgery, I had to really amp up my belief to motivate me to go for the gold. If I didn’t have faith in my capabilities, I would be short changing myself. I went about rehabilitating myself physically, emotionally, and mentally because my faith was unbeatable to attain my desire. Step by step, I got stronger and before I knew it, I went from the bed, to crawling, to biking, to walking to jogging, to running. Unexpectedly, there I was in the desert where I began training for the Olympic Trials with Coach John Carlos. The impossible is the possible when you have the courage to believe you can to do it.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
- Exercise/physical activity — It puts your mind and emotions in a positive mindset.
- Be your own coach — Empowering yourself to succeed with an all -consuming positive attitude. You are your best conscience.
- Embrace who you are — Love yourself because what you feel about yourself is the only one that counts.
- Journaling — Jot down what is important to you and then what you have accomplished. It’s now written in stone.
- Be uncomfortable — Experiment with different skills, approaches, and tactics in your life as it builds confidence and fosters mental toughness.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
Practice physical self-care. Exercise is the most natural and beneficial way that undermines failure. It keeps your mind in the present and ensures you to feel good feelings within yourself with the H2O filtering in your system. By engaging in physical activity, you will look at your cup full and that will guide you to be positive within yourself.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Confidence is something that you need to develop as you go through life because you will experience new situations or new environments. Confidence doesn’t mean that there won’t be an absence of nervousness or fearfulness. Another misconception is that by achieving great things will bring me the confidence that I desire. However, I would dispel this because that only represents an outside accomplishment, not an internal fulfillment. Sometimes we latch on to someone else’s idea of what self -confidence means to them. Then we interpret that to define ourselves with theirs because we are searching for a sense of who we are and what we believe in.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
When you have this syndrome, you are unable to enjoy any form of success and believe that this success is precarious. No matter how much you accomplish, you believe that you are not equipped to be good enough because of your perception. I would suggest doing positive affirmations in front of a mirror using your positive voice so it reaffirms that you are authentic and deserving. Another way of defusing this feeling, is to join a support group that have the same unfounded feeling of self- doubt and incompetence so that you get proper support and grow to learn that you are an achiever. Also, it would be ideal for you to keep a journal specifically listing your accomplishments so that they are documented. This way you have a record of all of that you have attained.
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.
The impossible is the possible when you self believe.
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 or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Bonniefrankel.com, Amazon, LindkedIn.com, Facebook
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.