Find people that can support you and give you caring, gentle and honest feedback. If I’m ever in some doubt about whether I believe I can do something, I talk to someone I trust that will kindly and gently give me honest feedback or input about my abilities to address the issue that I present to them. This person listens to me without providing solutions and is basically a sounding board to help me sort through my doubts or concerns about something. This allows me to get back on my path of believing in myself.
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 David Chorpenning.
David Chorpenning, PhD is the co-author of What The F*ck Is Next, a book he wrote with his son, Colton Chorpenning, to help people use intention to have greater happiness, fulfillment, and success. David has been providing counseling and coaching to clients for over 30 years. David is an avid outdoorsman an athlete. Some of his favorite activities are skiing, mountain biking, fly fishing, golfing, and hiking.
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 grew up in Ohio in the 50’s. As a young kid, I was often getting into trouble with my parents, teachers and occasionally the police. In retrospect, I just wanted to have more control over the things that I wanted to happen in my life. But as a kid, I didn’t have the tools to know how to navigate those yearnings in the adult world.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My first inkling of a career was in high school. I imagined being a talk show host — someone like Johnny Carson, or a more current example would be Jon Stewart. I saw myself having in-depth conversations with people to uncover interesting information about their lives. That desire has conditioned my career choices, but not in the way that I first imagined. I have been interviewing interesting people my whole life. I have been a real estate broker, counselor, and coach. I also have used my interviewing skills to facilitate professional development in profit and not-for-profit organizations.
Something I didn’t imagine as a teenager is that, through the interview process, I would help people improve their lives and achieve for myself a high-level of fulfillment. I am not sure that Jon Stewart would have said that about his interviews — though he could have said he has made a lot more money at it than I have!
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?
Good question, since I’ve recently reflected on my success and failure ratio. I’ve arrived at the fact that I’ve “failed” at much more than I’ve succeeded. My short definition of failure is that: I lost money, broke even, didn’t continue doing what I started, don’t feel that what I did influenced the change I had hoped for. Even though I refer to some projects or experiences as failure, in every case, what I was doing was something I enjoyed doing and felt I was moving toward it being successful. I also know that if I’d not done all the things I’ve done, with the failures, the successes that I’ve had wouldn’t have happened. And the bigger picture is that I’ve had an exceptionally successful, happy, and fulfilling life.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
It’s the book What The F*ck Is Next that I wrote with Colton. I’ve used intention and have promoted the use of intention to other’s my entire adult life. Based on my personal experience and research on this topic I’m convinced that intention is a powerful tool anyone can use to make their life better.
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?
I think belief in myself means the degree of confidence I feel about what I’m doing. My approach to life is that whatever I do, I want to try to be significantly above whatever I consider average. Somewhere in the 80–95% range. Instead of going for gold medal status, I’m more of a silver or bronze.
However, sometimes I can get caught up thinking that I should do something better — more in the realm of perfect. If I’m not meeting that higher expectation, I can start to feel a lack of confidence in myself about my performance. Most of the time, I eventually come to realize that is what is happening and reset my level of expectation and then regain my confidence.
This happens from time to time when I’m fly fishing. As I walk the river, my approach is to see the largest trout in the river and catch them. Sometimes at the end of the day, if I’ve not landed a large trout, though I’ve caught several smaller fish, I can feel a lack of confidence in my abilities. If I can step back a bit on the drive home and reflect on how and why I’m feeling that way, I can regroup and realize that the day had other exceptional qualities to focus on, such as friend conversations, scenic beauty, “smaller” wild trout that put up quite a fight and were stunning in the net.
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?
Again, I would call it confidence. I check-in regularly on what I want to have happen in my life and create intentions for that to occur. In that process, I create intentions that harness my skills and energy even though I may not know exactly how to make that happen. I make the intentions a stretch from where I am now on the project or issue, but I have belief that it’s possible.
We provide that process as Step One in our book, What The F*ck Is Next. This step is grounded in Appreciative Inquiry that helps a person inventory what has worked in their life, what they love to do, and what others have told them they do well.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
I was starting a new career in outdoor experiential training. I was hired by a company that was on the leading edge of providing this type of coaching. Though I’d never done it before, I had natural talent at facilitating exercises that gave teams insight about how they were operating and what they could do different. I’d moved into a semi-leadership position in the company and was overseeing and facilitating an event when a facilitator for one of the other groups upset someone. I was held responsible for this person’s bad actions and was let go.
This rocked my world and belief in myself to do this type of work. I struggled emotionally for weeks trying to make sense of why I was let go when I’d proved myself competent in many previous programs. After many conversations with my wife and friends about what happened and then brainstorming what I could do next, I got a sweet job with Outward Bound and started my new career journey again with my regained confidence.
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?
As I did more work in the personal development field, it became apparent that I needed educational training and credentials to continue. This made it necessary for me to go back to school. So, at 42 years old I finished my BS, started grad school and a year before my 50th birthday I received my PhD. This bolstered my confidence in myself that I not only had training in the work I was doing but had the acceptance of my clients and colleagues to do the work.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Find a way to connect to your skills, talents and desires and create intentions to make that happen.
I was 33 years old and felt dissatisfaction with my real estate brokerage career. I sought help from a business consultant. The consultant’s advice: “Determine what are the most important things in your life and create a picture of what a life built around those would look like. When people feel unfulfilled, or are dissatisfied with life, this is a signal that they may not be doing what is most important to them.” He provided me a workbook with questions intended to connect me to what I deemed most important. After filling out the questions in the workbook, I embarked on a career path that combined my love of the outdoors with providing personal and professional growth training to teams and individuals.
2 . Find people that can support you and give you caring, gentle and honest feedback.
If I’m ever in some doubt about whether I believe I can do something, I talk to someone I trust that will kindly and gently give me honest feedback or input about my abilities to address the issue that I present to them. This person listens to me without providing solutions and is basically a sounding board to help me sort through my doubts or concerns about something. This allows me to get back on my path of believing in myself.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
I can create a negative stream of self-criticism from time to time. It can well-up for no good reason. But, non-the-less, it happens. My two main strategies to overcome those feelings are to meditate on it, and to talk to someone.
I meditate twice a day, morning and after lunch for about 20 minutes. By focusing on my breath and relaxing my body, a different perspective about my self-criticism will bubble up.
When I talk to someone I trust about being negative about myself, they will remind me that I’m competent to work things out. It would seem I could do that myself after all these years. But hearing someone else provide that input, is a good remedy for me to resolve my feeling of personal negativity.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
It’s likely that at some point in your life you will not feel self-confident about something you did or are doing. But, if you step back from those feelings and connect to resources you’ve developed over your life, you can always regain your confidence.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
I do get nervous when presenting in front of a group of people. This may be related to imposter syndrome. But it’s not that I don’t think I have something worth sharing or that I’m worthy to be presenting. For me, it’s more that I want to do the best job of presenting what I have to offer, but I can unconsciously start to lean toward wanting it to be perfect. I believe this unconscious desire for perfection effects my nervousness. My remedy for this is to remind myself that I’m knowledgeable about the topic, and I have something positive to share with people regardless of how they may receive it.
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.
I believe that intention can be the beginning point to address many personal, community, or world issues. If we start knowing what we and other’s want as an outcome from a concern or issue, and create a shared intention for that, we begin from a positive framework to address what’s next.
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 🙂
President Joe Biden. I’d like to talk with him about how to use intention and dialogue to help mitigate the polarity we have in this country about important social and environmental issues.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We have a website: thefisnext.com. You can also buy our book, What The F*ck Is Next on Amazon.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.