Change in mindset — For some people, seeing things in a positive light is not their default setting. They need to learn how to see the positive in themselves, in situations they face, etc. This shift in mindset can take a while, but it may be the most important thing for them to learn to function differently moving forward.
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 Darrin Schenck.
Darrin has amassed a proven track record of success in several different fields and endeavors. His ambitions started at a young age, to be a high school and collegiate wrestler, but a neck injury changed that journey early on. Darrin discovered the sport of racquetball, and applied the discipline and work ethic from his brief wrestling career into this new sport. He set his sights on turning professional at the onset of his playing days, and worked extremely hard to achieve that goal. After years of competitive play, Darrin turned Pro at age 24, and played on the International Racquetball Tour for the next six years. He reached a career high ranking of number 18 in the world during his time on the Pro Racquetball Tour.
Darrin took many of the lessons learned during his competitive years and applied them to everything else in his life. This includes a successful sales career in several different fields, authoring five books, two of which were award-winning in their respective categories. In addition to currently being the VP of Sales for TriageNow, a medical call center for workplace injuries, Darrin also spent 15 years the Head Coach of the Arizona State University Racquetball Team. In this time, his team won a Women’s National Championship, was a top ten finisher fifteen straight years, produced over three dozen Collegiate All American players, and he was the two-time recipient of the Collegiate Coach of the Year award.
Darrin recently retired from coaching the team to pursue his new passion, Public Speaking and Executive Coaching. His “Corporate Athlete” approach helps individuals and teams alike Self Optimize to get the most out of their lives. His Public Speaking includes sharing his story of surviving a head on collision with a wrong way drunk driver, and many of his athletic and professional experiences.
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 am from a very small town in rural Pennsylvania, and grew up as a farm boy until age 12 when my family moved to Phoenix, AZ. I was not a fan of the idea at the time, but I grew to love it and know I was presented with life opportunities that never would have been possible had I stayed in PA.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My Dad was a great wrestler in high school and beyond, and then turned to coaching after his competitive days were behind him, so I very much followed in his footsteps. Although I ended up in the sport of racquetball instead of wrestling, I feel like he laid the groundwork for me to pursue my dreams without some of the usual concerns that people place on someone with lofty ambitions.
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?
Throughout my racquetball career I made the same mistake over and over…I moved up to the next level of competition too soon. I was not focused on winning events at the level respective to my current abilities, rather I was so focused on getting to the Pro level that I would just decide to move up the next division before I was ready. Because of this, the foundation of skills I built was shaky, and I was not ready for the level of play at the very top of the game when I did finally arrive there. I had to take two steps backward and rebuild my entire game before I could realistically compete with the best of the best. In hindsight, it was a bad path, and I never allowed any of my students and team members to make that same mistake. Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? Without question the thing I learned most was patience. Everything has a timeline that needs to be adhered to, and being in a hurry, in any endeavor, leads to errors, issues and in many cases heartaches. I learned this the hard way and strongly caution others about doing the same. Don’t follow in my footsteps, you won’t make it.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I began Public Speaking after surviving a head on collision with a wrong way drunk driver. It was a critical part of my own recovery from the trauma of the event. After seeing the impact I was having on the audience when sharing this story, and what I have done since, I was encouraged to do Public Speaking on a larger level. I am now sharing this story and other lessons from my life with audiences large and small. How do you think that might help people? I hope that I can help people understand that they are not alone in their struggles, that there are ways to overcome almost any hardship, and that they can find a shortcut or two by learning from my experiences instead of having to go through a similar process on their own.
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 have to be your own biggest cheerleader, especially when undertaking a new endeavor. If you choose a lofty goal, there will not be many people to ask for help or guidance, but there will likely be plenty of people that will tell you this can’t be done or you won’t make it. You have to understand that you cannot ask for directions from someone who has never been where you wish to go. Believing in yourself is going to be crucial throughout the process; only you can get yourself to dig deep when times get tough.
For example, when I made the announcement to my family that I wanted to be a Pro Racquetball player, it was not met with much enthusiasm. I had just played my first tournament ever, and lost in the first round. There was no real money to be made in this sport, versus tennis as a comparison, and the assumption seemed to be that since no one else in my family had ever done something like this, why would I think I could? It took a lot of self belief to start at the bottom and work my way up. I did recruit help along the way, but most of it came down to me believing that even though I couldn’t see the entire staircase I was ascending, if I could see the NEXT step, that was enough to keep going.
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?
I think so, as I referenced above this is basically what I did in my racquetball career. But you do have to be realistic too; you have to understand limitations, physical, mental, environmental, and maybe financial that are going to make the journey tough. You are not going to become an NFL quarterback by starting to throw a football at age 30. Too late in life, (physically) too much other competition, etc. BUT, you could end up learning this craft well and becoming an amazing coach with that skill set instead. Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? This goes back to the realistic approach. There is a fine line between lofty goals and unrealistic expectations. You cannot have something just because you want it, you have to outwork and outperform all others who want that same thing. Can you please explain what you mean? Wanting to be the fastest person on the track running the 100 meter dash and actually doing a lifetime of training, likely 15 years or more, to build the body, skills and mind to function and compete at the highest level is a prerequisite for getting to the Olympics. Once you arrive, you have to outperform everyone else who is on that track with you…
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself?
Only on occasion, there honestly were not many times where I truly was unsure that I could not achieve what I had set out to do. How did this impact your choices? When I did encounter times like this, I needed to step back and reassess where I was, how much ground I had gained so far, and how much was left to cover. This perspective always helps bring things back into focus for me.
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?
When I was on the verge of winning my first Open level tournament (the highest amateur division) I was facing an opponent that I had lost to multiple times throughout my career to that point. I had never gotten into position to really put pressure on him, so that became the goal, not to win per se, but to put him in a position of concern and discomfort for the first time. Once I managed to do that, I could see him react accordingly, and start to falter. At that point, two things changed: I thought I could win, and for the first time, he also thought I could win. Can you share the story with us? I was collecting receipts (proof through wins, achieving goals, etc.) throughout my playing days, and I could see a pattern of successes developing. I learned what I needed to do to be successful and my on and off court preparation truly began to prepare me for the win I so desperately wanted. I began to believe in myself after each practice match win, each new fitness goal achieved. I slowly built up enough “proof” that I could easily believe I was capable of hitting my goals.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Homework — I give my coaching clients “homework”, little tests, achievable goals that start to get them to see that they are capable of getting things done. For some, it is important to start really small, others can leap forward to bigger things. Either way, having a personal track record of committing to something, getting started, and then seeing it through to the end, it critical to believing in oneself.
2 . Recruit help — speak with others who have been down this path, fellow competitors, entrepreneurs, etc, whatever is applicable. Understand that you are not alone, that others have had similar struggles, but the goal(s) can still be achieved.
3 . When coaching other racquetball players, I would play as close to their level as possible, helping them build their confidence as they went. Whether a beginner or an accomplished player, I was able to stay within reach of their abilities and help build their own “proof” that they were on the right track
4 . Retrospective — walking someone through their life and finding the previous areas of success, completing tasks, and finding wins. Everyone has an example, and probably many, examples of this, and they can be built upon.
5 . Change in mindset — For some people, seeing things in a positive light is not their default setting. They need to learn how to see the positive in themselves, in situations they face, etc. This shift in mindset can take a while, but it may be the most important thing for them to learn to function differently moving forward.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
Just like point #5 above, this shift in mindset can be a difficult thing to get plugged into the system. The first step is to catch yourself starting to think negatively, and flip that script to looking at all of the things that COULD GO RIGHT, instead of just the things that possibly could go wrong. Easier sad than done, but this critical piece of the equation is where most people need to start.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Just like there is a fine line between clever and stupid, there is a fine line between confident and arrogance. Most people who are yelling the loudest are not the ones who are sure about what they are doing. Instead, they are shouting to convince themselves and the rest of the world that they are on the right track. A quiet confidence is the way to go; you do not need to support or affirmation of others who are not on the same joureny as you to begin with. It is empty praise and/or criticism at best.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
If you feel like you are leaning out over your skis, you are probably in exactly the right spot. If you are willing to challenge and stretch yourself, then this is the space you must occupy. The comfort zone is where dreams go to die. You need to be in a position where you may feel unsure of what you are doing, may not have all the answers, etc. This means you are going to have the chance to learn, grow, and expand yourself. Get tolerant of being uncomfortable, it is where all the best opportunities lie.
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?
Grab your nose and Jump! You never know what your idea can trigger. Don’t wait, deal with the fear and the unknown, but get out there and try. If you fall down, get up and try again. No one who is doing better than you will ever make fun of you, as they know what it takes to walk that path. Only haters make fun of failure, and they are standing on the sidelines anyway, their opinions do not hold any weight to them.
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 🙂
Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, Andrew Huberman, Rich Roll
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Darrinchatter.com, Chatter-Box app, connect on LinkedIn
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.