Develop positive habits and routines. Did you know that it only takes one or two bad habits to alter the perception you have of yourself? Recognize your unhealthy habits — the ones that aren’t serving you — and change them. Introduce new healthy habits through intentional, dedicated practice. Break down a big change into manageable actions or habits, find where the new habits fit naturally into your lifestyle, and celebrate your successes.
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 Darcy Speed.
Darcy Speed is an instructor and content creator at Ultimate Academy®, an internationally recognized training academy. An enthusiastic educator, Darcy embraces the opportunity to share her knowledge and experience with students from all over the world. With degrees in psychology and education, Darcy is a natural fit for encouraging adults to learn something new, helping them turn their passion into a career. In many situations, part of an entrepreneurial journey is learning to believe in yourself. Darcy is living proof that confidence is a skill — one that can be acquired at any age.
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?
Sure! I grew up in a loud, loving family. My parents encouraged my siblings and I to chase our dreams, whatever they may be. For me, it was education. I always loved school! In fact, my mother loves to tell the story of how I sobbed at the beginning of March Break one year because I couldn’t go to school the next day. I still feel this excitement at the beginning of each week — what can I help someone learn today?
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My mother is definitely my inspiration. With three young kids at home, my mom enrolled herself in university. She had always loved playing the piano and dreamed of becoming a music teacher. I fell asleep every night to my mother practicing the piano. To this day, classical music still lulls me to sleep! She not only graduated but became the most-sought-after piano teacher in the city. With a role model like that, how could I not pursue my own 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?
As a teacher, sometimes we get so caught up in the lesson plan and the rhythm of the class that we neglect the logistics. Logistics such as our own clothing. Now, I’m not saying I showed up in my pajamas, but I didn’t think about what I was wearing. I ended up spending an entire day with my shirt on inside out. What I learned from that is, it’s just as important to look ready, as it is to be ready.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Oh my gosh, where do I start?! At Ultimate Academy®, we help future entrepreneurs turn their passion into a career. Our courses include Home Staging, Professional Organizing, Decorating & ReDesign, Feng Shui, Event & Wedding Planning, Entrepreneurship, Digital Marketing and Confidence for Success. We are always working on creating new courses — courses that answer the question, “how do I become a successful [fill in the blank]”?
There is something so addictive about being part of an individual’s transformation. Their personal journey to entrepreneurship begins in my classroom! We provide them with the knowledge, skills, and tools for a new future. One in which they are empowered. Helping people realize their dreams is absolutely the best career I could ever have imagined.
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?
Believing in yourself is the foundation of any future success. And when I say “success”, I don’t just mean career success. I also mean personal success. Believing in yourself is the difference-maker between “I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this” and “I did it”.
When you believe in yourself, you are more assertive. You know that you bring value; that what you will contribute to any conversation is worth listening to. So, no matter what situation you find yourself in, you don’t fear speaking up.
When you believe in yourself, you are proactive. You don’t wait for things to happen, you grab life by the horns, take the lead, and get things done.
When you believe in yourself, you are more organized. Time management goes hand-in-hand with believing in yourself. In fact, at Ultimate Academy®, we view it as one of the tools to building confidence. The more you get done, the more confident you feel. The more confident you feel, the more you get done.
When you believe in yourself, you are more likely to take risks. One of the foundations of self-confidence is resilience — knowing you can fail at something but will survive. If you believe in your ability to “bounce back”, you aren’t afraid to try something new, or start a new initiative. At Ultimate Academy®, we encourage our students to begin a new habit of viewing any “failure” as a lesson to learn from. To take a minute, allow yourself some space, and then reflect on what to do next time.
When you believe in yourself, you are more likely to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Confidence is built and sustained by incorporating positive habits. How do you build these habits? One at a time. For example, if you want to begin exercising every day for 30 minutes, find where it fits naturally in your day. Perhaps you walk the kids to school (there’s 15 minutes) and you walk the dog before bed (there’s another 15 minutes). Those 30 minutes make you feel better physically and give you energy. And, every time you complete this new habit, you strengthen your belief in yourself.
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?
To me, believing in yourself is knowing, deep down in those dark crevices of your mind, that you are worthy. Worthy of happiness, respect, equality, success, and love. Pursuing any measure of success requires you to feel worthy. Who’s to say you aren’t talented enough to be an artist or win a gold medal? The world is full of individuals who chased a dream others said was unattainable. What drove them was the feeling of worthiness.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Oh my gosh yes! I have experienced self-doubt many times in my life. I think that is what makes me so well suited to instructing adults who may be experiencing the same feelings. There have been many conversations I didn’t speak up in, many experiences I have missed out on, because I didn’t believe in myself in that moment.
What these lapses in confidence taught me is that believing in yourself is not an innate quality or a characteristic. It is something that needs to be nurtured.
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?
Of course. I can picture it clearly. I went back to university as an adult (yes, just like my mom!). Sitting in a huge classroom, surrounded by students much younger than me, I realized that if I was going to achieve my dream of earning another degree, I needed to feel worthy of it. I needed to believe in myself and what I had to offer. I started practicing the tips and techniques that we share at Ultimate Academy® in our Confidence for Success program. And with each day, it became easier for me to believe in my own ability to graduate and achieve success.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Begin a new habit of checking in with yourself — make yourself a priority. Many of us aren’t aware of what we are feeling or how we speak to ourselves — that inner critic can be a mean and judgmental voice. And often, we aren’t even aware that we’re listening to it. At regular intervals during the day, ask yourself three questions:
o What am I thinking?
o What am I feeling?
o What do I need?
Asking yourself, “What am I thinking?”, shines a spotlight on that inner voice. It brings awareness to your thoughts. This allows you to learn to view them objectively — are they true? Can you poke holes in those thoughts? Can you create a more positive thought pattern?
Asking yourself, “What am I feeling?”, brings awareness to your feelings — are you feeling sad? Are you feeling anxious? The trick is to not judge those feelings — your feelings are simply feelings. A new habit is to simply acknowledge them and allow yourself an opportunity to examine them. Is there an action you can take to move forward?
Asking yourself, “What do I need?”, brings awareness to your needs — are you thirsty? Hungry? In need of a 15-minute break? We often ignore our own physical and mental needs. Becoming aware of them is the first step to meeting them. Meeting them means the best version of you will be facing the world.
2 . Begin a Success journal. Every day, write down three to five successes. These can be career-related, personal etc. The idea is, when you record your successes, you:
o Focus on what went well that day.
o Have proof that you have done something well.
o Begin to look for these positive moments during your day.
Every success you record, and later review, strengthens your belief in yourself. When/if you have a moment of “I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this”, reviewing your success journal provides proof that “yes-I-can”.
3 . Practice affirmations. Our brains believe what we tell it. If we tell ourselves that we are capable, strong etc., our brain will believe it. So, whenever you find yourself in front of a mirror — look yourself in the eye and repeat a positive affirmation.
Begin your affirmation with “I am”. For example, look yourself in the eye and repeat, “I am enough”, “I am powerful”, “I am loved”, “I am brave”, or “I am going to kick butt today”. The key is that the affirmation needs to resonate with you. If it feels awkward or false, it won’t work. It needs to feel authentic.
4 . Show your worthiness. You — and others — react to the energy you carry. When you project your belief in yourself, through your body language and actions, you can change how others see you, how you see yourself, and how your brain reacts to your experiences. The way you approach the world with your physical form can shape the way you feel.
So, stand tall with your shoulders back. Smile — smiling will make you feel better and alter how others perceive you. Look people in the eye — make and keep eye contact while you are interacting with others. Speak slowly — people who believe in themselves speak slowly because they know they are worthy of other people’s time and attention.
5 . Develop positive habits and routines. Did you know that it only takes one or two bad habits to alter the perception you have of yourself? Recognize your unhealthy habits — the ones that aren’t serving you — and change them. Introduce new healthy habits through intentional, dedicated practice. Break down a big change into manageable actions or habits, find where the new habits fit naturally into your lifestyle, and celebrate your successes.
These habits don’t need to be big, time-consuming endeavors either. Perhaps drinking more water is one you wish to begin. Start small with one glass a day. Changing habits takes patience, practice, and perseverance but are oh, so worth it.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
The first step, as noted above, is to become aware of that inner critic. Acknowledge these thoughts and then challenge them. Where can you poke holes in them? The more often you acknowledge these critical thoughts, challenge them and replace them, the better you will get at it. When replacing the thought, create a next step as well. For example, say to yourself, “I am not incapable. I am just facing a challenge. I am going to do [action A] to meet that challenge head on”.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
I think sometimes the concept of believing in yourself is seen as a “one-and-done” type of exercise. Believing in yourself is an ongoing process, one that needs to be practiced every day. Checking in with yourself, talking to yourself, making positive changes in your everyday life — it all works to reinforce the knowledge that you are worthy.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a sneaky thought process that slithers in, perhaps when you least expect it, and makes you question your worthiness. The first thing I tell people is that it is very normal to experience these thoughts. Because it typically occurs when you are starting something new — a new job, a promotion, a new school year — it simply means that you are “stretching”. You’re daring to step out of your comfort zone.
Stop comparing yourself to others (or to an unrealistic version of yourself), update and review your success journal, and view yourself as a work in progress.
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.
There is so much wasted food in the world. I know there are some communities in which food, not deemed “worthy” of a grocery store, is donated. I would love to see this become the norm.
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 🙂
I would love to sit down with Michelle Obama. I admire everything about her, especially her tenacity. She isn’t afraid to be honest, to be authentic. She’s wise, funny, inspirational and a true leader. She’s amazing.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Visit our website at ultimateacademy.com to see what we are up to!
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.