I love inspiring others and being a leader in living beyond burnout by teaching courage, creativity, confidence, compassion, and comedy. I’m building momentum through a greater movement to change work from the inside out. I’m part of the Changing Work collective which brings my specialty to a global initiative.

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 Emma Laurence.

A pioneer in the field of burnout recovery and prevention, Emma Laurence is a certified coach (CLC), author of the illustrated Beyond Burnout Playbook, speaker, and entrepreneur. She’s on a mission to help millennials and others walk the transition from crispy-fried to loving life.

Emma’s background as an award-winning actress, director, singer, and writer in New York City informs her innovative coaching style. Her 6-week coaching process has been called “an innovative, playful and practical solution, clearing a path beyond burnout.”

Emma collaborated with GoDaddy’s Small Business group to present Moving Beyond What Keeps Your Business Stuck, helping small business owners prevent and face burnout. She’s appeared on numerous podcasts, and her interview on Awakened Nation with Brad Szollose was named one of the series’ all-time best.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Lawrence University, and an alumni of the New Actor’s Workshop in Manhattan, Emma now lives in the Minne-apple where she sings with the duo JazzLove, plays pickleball, and takes on 1500-piece puzzles to get through the winter.

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! Some of my happiest childhood memories are learning how to sail on Canandaigua lake, hike in the Adirondack mountains, and attend live concerts of all-time jazz greats at the Eastman School of Music. To this day, music and nature still ground me in creativity and joy.

I did struggle with a challenging home life. Friendships provided a compassionate sanctuary, while my siblings and I developed a healthy sense of humor that got us through tough times. The Three Stooges, Monty Python, and SNL style comedy taught me it’s essential to laugh every day.

All the parts of my childhood prepared me to learn how to believe in myself. Self-confidence and emotional safety weren’t handed to me, so I had to figure that out. Now I’m grateful to be strong enough to help others with their learning process.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I’ve had careers in education, the performing arts, and now coaching and writing. Years ago, when I met my friend, Billy, he lit up as a role model for how I wanted to pursue any career — playfully, creatively, and true to myself.

My first image of Billy is sitting on a bicycle in the hallway of a college classroom building. He’s joking around with one of the students in his residential summer program. A lot of these kids came from a nearby Mohawk reservation, and all of them were first generation college-bound kids who needed someone to build them up. By tapping their sense of humor, he made connections and gained trust.

Kids also loved Billy because he treated them with respect, as individuals and as equals. He listened to them deeply. He’d tell them the truth if they messed up and give them a chance to make things right. But he always saw them as fully capable people.

It was Billy who inspired me to pursue any work with comedy, compassion, and confidence.

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?

Well, when I first started teaching, I shared a personal story in class. Oops.

I was teaching a course on Human Sexuality in a summer program for teens. [I know, what was I thinking?] We all participated in setting up a safe, confidential space and wrote a guideline that we all signed. Afterwards, to set the tone of safety for everyone to share openly, I told the first story.

One student didn’t honor our agreement. The next day in the cafeteria, she and her friends were pointing and laughing at me. [Yes, you can laugh, too — at my foolishness.]

The head counselor and I called the student in for a chat. We didn’t shame her for breaking the confidence; I just told her the truth of how I felt. Her consequence was to explain to the class why she broke our trust and then ask to be allowed to continue the course. The class voted that she could stay. And I became her go-to, best-friend teacher for the rest of the summer.

When we can tolerate the discomfort of mistakes, they teach us better. I learned how to navigate a sensitive situation with courage, compassion, and creativity. The student learned how to take full responsibility without shame. Happy ending.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I recently releasedThe Beyond Burnout Playbook! We’re promoting the book as well as my 6-week coaching process over the next several months. It’s an exciting time.

The book is helping people because it’s playful and practical. It’s also short, so if you’re burned out, you can just look at the pictures and catch the message. The coaching process is simple, fun, and powerfully effective in leading people beyond burnout and into building their sustainable, best life.

I’ve had lots of great feedback on both.

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’d be happy to share three reasons I can see right away.

First, believing in ourselves allows us to give our gifts freely to the world.

Take the example of the brilliant inventor, Thomas Edison, who reportedly attended school for about three months. He was judged to be intellectually disabled because his teacher couldn’t relate to how Edison’s mind worked. Wow.

Thankfully for us, that experience didn’t stop Edison. He began patenting life-changing inventions at age 21. Our gifts make the world better, too; the world is waiting for us to share freely without judging what we have to give.

Second, when we believe in ourselves, we enjoy the company of others, even if we’re competing.

The culture of American Ninja Warrior is a perfect example. When 16 year-old Katie Bone qualified for the finals in the Women’s Championship, the competitor she knocked out was the first to whole-heartedly cheer her on and embrace her at the final win. Watch the show to see a community of athletes having the time of their lives uplifting one another, as they compete in a supportive, buoyant way. [Katie is a type-1 diabetic, making her championship all the more inspiring.]

Third, believing in ourselves means we’ll make better choices.

I’ve watched hundreds of students and clients embrace higher opportunities by courageously risking a belief in themselves. They take a leap to write a play, audition for a show, ask for a promotion, start a business, heal from past trauma, or set up a routine for better self-care. They come out of the shadows and discover their powerful ability to build dreams. With all choices, great or small, we cross a threshold to better living.

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?

This is an important and layered question, one that reveals the society and culture in which we live.

The most important measure of belief is internal. Societal and cultural standards cannot stop us from believing in ourselves unless we let them. A voice teacher once told me that “beautiful singing” is what’s considered pleasant to others.

How many artists, for example, create what was only appreciated much later by the rest of us? We must blow apart the belief that outer accomplishments and recognized achievement define our worth. We give our best even if it’s never acknowledged. Greatness is this state of being that brings quality to all we do.

So, greatness is something we are and embody. But clarity of expression is another step. You may want more skills to bring out what’s inside you. Skills can be gained. To make the leap, start by saying, “I am a great artist on the inside and I’ll learn the techniques I need or find the medium that suits my highest expression.”

Gold medal Olympian? You may be an athlete, even if you don’t have a body that’s trainable. OK, choose to either accept or to go beyond any physical limitations. Others have. But always know that in your world, you are an Olympian. Anyone who loves you can see it, too.

Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?

Many times! I’m on a threshold again of believing in myself like never before.

I’ve always wanted to sing jazz. When I moved to Minneapolis, I asked around about a keyboard player who might want to team up and create a duo. Friends of mine kept recommending this one musician who I felt was beyond my league. So I didn’t approach him. My lack of belief limited 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? Can you share the story with us?

Yes! To continue the jazz story just now…

Months later, I get invited to sing at an event and guess who’s the keyboard player? When we got together to rehearse, I pitched him the idea of creating a show around jazz standards and other love songs. He was excited, and our duo, JazzLove, was born. Life brought the opportunity, and this time I said yes. So far, we’ve booked gigs without even promoting ourselves.

At the same time, once I published The Beyond Burnout Playbook, opportunities to level up my business amplified — Invitations to a business collective, webinars, and podcasts flourished. I started to experience a kind of panic around being more visible because visibility is vulnerability. Fortunately, a course called Building Visibility from a coach whose tagline is “find the courage to be seen,” appeared in my inbox. I signed up!

What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Know who you really are.

This may sound simple, or impossible, or even self-evident. But I’ve found this discovery as the number one way to learn to believe in ourselves.

A powerful example of what I mean is in India Arie’s song “I Am Light”:

I am light, I am light.

I am not the things my family did,

I am not the voices in my head,

I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside,

I am light…

I am a star,

A piece of it all,

I am light

Take a listen to the whole song, soak in the lyrics and music. How can we not believe in ourselves when we see what’s true?

2 . Lean in — over and over again — to someone whose mirroring you trust.

My dear friend, Billy, had a heart attack in 2020. He was the one who always reflected back the highest in me and built up my confidence and courage. This kind of self-belief creates safety to be who we are in the world. That’s the space he always created for me, and when he left, I had to learn how to do it for myself.

Sometimes it takes an outside person to believe in us first. If you have that in your life, through family, friends, pets, or even nature itself, celebrate it. Lean in and learn to believe through and with your community.

3 . Be willing to surrender your old self-concept.

This has to be a conscious choice. You can no longer indulge the image of yourself as a failure. I once had a dream where a spiritual teacher showed me a prehistoric version of myself. Then he said, “How do you expect me to work with you when this is still your self-concept?” Laughable.

It’s time to update your self-image. Who you are today is not who you were in the past, even yesterday. Be willing to see the spark within yourself in this moment.

4 . Get creative! Prove to yourself that you can make something out of nothing.

Paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, sow a garden, design code, bake cupcakes — whatever’s your jam. Realize that you’re starting with ingredients, but it’s YOU who has the power to create.

I once suggested to a client of mine to use her love of painting to begin believing in herself. She started to own the fact that the canvas starts out blank and fills with forms and colors that come from her imagination. Now, when she steps back, she sees something that didn’t exist before. Powerful.

5 . Amplify the voice of the believer in you.

It’s so easy to hear the doubter, but inside us is a believer, too. Discover that voice, amplify it, and you’ve struck gold.

Tune into this believer by noticing what you do well. Even the small and seemingly insignificant. Often, we so discount what comes naturally to us that we don’t even consider these talents. Whether you have a talent for cooking or discovering the best restaurants, painting or appreciating great art, playing music or curating song lists, take note of your abilities. Accept your greatness.

If you want a real shift, consider creating new pathways. A powerful way to amplify the believer voice is through an Energy Medicine technique called The Temporal Tap. This ancient technique brought back recently into practice actually creates new neurological pathways for new messages.

Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?

If you respond to the exercise I just mentioned, the Temporal Tap can be applied to the critic (at minute 7:00)

We may not be able to stop this voice fully. But if we put all our attention elsewhere, the critic weakens. Attention is a powerful tool, feeding what we want to grow. I choose to grow confidence and connection.

As an example, I’m often tested on this skill when I sing. The best way I’ve found is to acknowledge, but not react to, negative messages. The critic acts up on a gig. And my job is to say, “Yeah, whatever. Who cares?” followed by putting all my attention on engaging with the audience.

Maybe an image or symbol works for you to replace the critic. Is there a strong animal you relate to that can be your symbol for self-confidence? Use your imagination to take on that courage, strength, confidence or energy whenever you get shaky.

Lastly, don’t go near anyone who tears you down.

Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?

I’d like to dispel the myth that you have to wait until you believe in yourself to take action. Steady, small actions build self-confidence. For those who need to see to believe, experience builds belief.

There’s a limit, though, to “feel the fear and do it anyway.” You may have to train yourself out of the fear part separately. Many who have PTSD find that deep fear returns every time they stretch limits, simply because the fear pattern is locked in the nervous system. If that’s you, check out The Body Keeps the Score by Besser van der Kolk. M.D. for help.

Another myth is that you either believe in yourself or you don’t.

It’s a spectrum as well as a daily practice. It may help to imagine the process as a spiral, so that you don’t get down on yourself when the test of faith comes around at the next level. Any of us when trying something new may again experience a temporary lack of self-confidence. It’s how we grow. Just be sure to use the “stretch gently but don’t break” principle.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?

A client came to me with the imposter issue recently, I suggested he look at a bigger picture. Could he be more curious as to why life brought him this experience than trying to prove himself as right for the job? Could he be more interested in his team members than anxious about where he fits in?

These are tall orders, I know. But backing up for a larger view gives breathing room and freedom.

Another way to look at this is to honor yourself. Someone believes you can, or you wouldn’t be where you are. And why are you there? Maybe you’re the right person for the moment.

I once heard a great quote, “Do not only what you can do, but what only you can do.” Consider that you might fit the role perfectly, whether or not you feel skilled or qualified.

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 love inspiring others and being a leader in living beyond burnout by teaching courage, creativity, confidence, compassion, and comedy. I’m building momentum through a greater movement to change work from the inside out. I’m part of the Changing Work collective which brings my specialty to a global initiative.

Changing Work’s vision is to elevate conscious business practices and practitioners. It’s a community committed to curating the best conscious business practices and making them available to everyone. With 3.5 billion workers globally, this movement has great impact potential.

The Beyond Burnout Playbook is my particular gift to the worldwide community because I’m best equipped to bring a playful and practical approach to solving this epidemic. Any of us who want to raise conscious business and redefine work are part of this larger movement.

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 have great respect for Dr. Zach Bush, and I’d love to meet him. His creative initiatives around health, healing, planetary consciousness, and regenerative farming inspire me to no end.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me at
at LinkedIn, and 
on Instagram at lifeiscoachingyou_emma.

I’d be happy to connect with your readers anytime. Thank you!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.