Set Small Goals: Setting small, achievable goals can help you build momentum and confidence. It can be something as simple as going for a walk every day for a week or eating a healthy breakfast every morning for a month. By achieving these small goals, you can gain the confidence to tackle bigger ones.
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 Evander Nelson.
Evander Nelson is a NASM-certified personal trainer who has worked in fitness, martial arts, and nutrition for more than 5 years.
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 small town in the Netherlands (near Amsterdam). At that time, there were only around 3.000 people in the town, so everyone kind of knew each other.
When I was three, my parents divorced. My father, whom I visited over the weekend, moved around a lot, while my mother stayed in the town where I lived during the week.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My father was a big inspiration to me.
Growing up as one of the only black kids in each town I lived in, I faced my fair share of bullying. It started with harmless teasing but eventually became more hurtful and damaging to my self-esteem. One day, some kids put gum in my afro hair, and my stepmother had to cut it out because it was too sticky.
My dad saw this happen and was angry that I let it happen.
Being a military man, he decided it was time for me to learn to stand up for myself. The next morning, he drove me to a kickboxing gym two hours away. The sight of muscular, tattooed men punching each other to the sound of Eminem music terrified me, but my father insisted that I participate.
I spent weekends practicing kickboxing and sparring with my dad in the attic as well as in the gym. It was challenging and uncomfortable at first, but I soon learned that the gym was filled with respect, openness, and friendliness. Everyone was eager to help me improve while still pushing me forward.
I began to feel more confident and happier, even making new friends in the gym.
A few years later, at 12 years old, I was relaxing on a swing in the playground when I saw the same kids who put gum in my hair. Their “leader,” Gale, wanted to fight.
My dad watched from the kitchen window but only shook his head when I looked to him for help. I knew I had to handle the situation myself.
The moment Gale walked up to me, he tried to kick me. It only took me two punches to make him give up and walk back home with his head down.
I never saw him again after that day.
The experience taught me that standing up for myself was not only necessary but also empowering.
It’s never too late to learn how to stand up for yourself and build your self-confidence. So if you’re struggling with a similar situation, know that you have the power to take control and defend yourself.
Keep on pushing forward!
Though it wasn’t the most fun experience, it has had a positive influence on my life. It made me believe in myself. Two years earlier, I couldn’t even dream of sticking up for myself, and now I just fended off a bunch of bullies.
From this moment on, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to becoming physically strong and mentally helping others gain confidence through exercise.
Fast forward, I now work as a freelance personal trainer, have helped dozens of others with their healthy lifestyles, and have just launched my own website where I want to reach more people who are struggling with believing in themselves.
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 personal trainer, I made my fair share of mistakes when I was first starting out. But one particular instance still stands out to me as both funny and a valuable lesson.
At the time, I was working with a new client who was a bit older and had never exercised regularly before. I was eager to help her improve her fitness, so I planned out a pretty intense workout routine.
On the day of our first session, I had her doing all sorts of complicated exercises and moves that I thought would challenge her. But about 10 minutes into the workout, she suddenly stopped and looked at me with a painful expression.
I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “I think I just peed myself.”
I was mortified. I had no idea that this was a common issue for women who had given birth, and I felt terrible for pushing her too hard so soon.
But the experience taught me an important lesson about the importance of truly listening to your clients and understanding their needs and limitations.
From that day forward, I made a point to have more open and honest conversations with my clients about their past injuries, health conditions, and other factors that could impact their workouts.
It was a funny and embarrassing mistake, but it ultimately made me a better trainer and helped me connect with my clients on a deeper level.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working with a team of software developers to create a fitness app that will customize workouts based on each user’s fitness level, goals, and preferences.
A lot of fitness apps give the user many options and customizations to choose from, which can be overwhelming.
My app will be different since it is directly connected to your fitness tracker. The data from the fitness tracker will be uploaded to the app, and AI technology will create a customized plan based on the data.
This way, it’ll also adjust the plan over time as the user gets stronger, making sure they’re always challenged and making progress toward their goals.
I think this project could be a game-changer for fitness.
By using AI to make workouts more personalized, we can make fitness more enjoyable and accessible for everyone, no matter how much experience they have. This could help people stay motivated and achieve real results, leading to better health and well-being.
Plus, as we gather more information on how users interact with the app, we can continue to improve and refine it, making it even better and easier to use.
Overall, I’m really excited about how this project can help people achieve their fitness goals in a way that’s fun, sustainable, and tailored just for them.
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 it 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?
First off, when you believe in yourself, you’re more likely to take risks and pursue your goals. You trust in your abilities and have confidence that you can succeed, even if things get tough. This can lead to greater achievements and a more fulfilling life.
I’ve experienced this firsthand in my own fitness journey. When I first started out as a personal trainer, even though I had been doing martial arts since I was young, I was nervous and unsure of myself.
But as I gained experience and saw the positive impact I could have on my clients’ lives, I started to believe in myself more. I took on bigger challenges and pushed myself to be better, knowing that I had the skills and knowledge to succeed.
But the most important thing about why you should believe in yourself is that it can help you create your own definition of success.
We all have different goals, values, and priorities in life, and what might be considered a success for one person might not be for another. When you believe in yourself, you’re more likely to define success on your own terms and pursue goals that truly matter to you.
For example, I once had a client who came to me with the goal of losing weight. But as we worked together, I learned that her true passion was running.
She had always dreamed of running a marathon but never believed she could do it. As she started to believe in herself and her abilities, she began to redefine her idea of success.
Instead of focusing solely on the number on the scale, she shifted her focus, and we trained together for a marathon.
When she finally crossed that finish line, she felt a sense of accomplishment and pride that she had never felt before.
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?
Believing in yourself means that you have confidence in your abilities and trust that you can achieve your goals.
It doesn’t mean that you can do anything regardless of your natural talents, but it can help you make the most of them and reach your full potential.
For example, if you want to become a great artist but don’t feel like you have many talents, believing in yourself can help you take action to improve. You can take classes, practice regularly, and get feedback from others to help you develop your skills. Even though you may not become a world-famous artist, believing in yourself can help you achieve success beyond what you thought was possible.
Similarly, if you want to become an Olympic gold medalist but don’t feel very athletic, believing in yourself can help you take steps to improve your performance.
You can work with a coach, train consistently, and focus on your strengths to improve your chances of success. While becoming an Olympic gold medalist may be difficult, believing in yourself and taking action toward your goal can help you achieve more than you thought possible.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Yes, there was a time when I struggled with self-doubt and didn’t believe in myself.
When I first started out as a personal trainer, I lacked confidence in my abilities and felt like an imposter. I didn’t think I was knowledgeable enough to help my clients, and I felt like I didn’t belong in the industry.
This lack of self-belief had a significant impact on my choices. I was hesitant to take on new clients or projects, fearing that I wouldn’t be able to meet their expectations. I also avoided networking and promoting myself, feeling like I didn’t have anything valuable to offer.
As a result, my business suffered. I wasn’t bringing in enough clients, and I wasn’t making progress toward my long-term goals.
I felt stuck and unfulfilled, unsure of what steps to take next.
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?
After hearing negative stories from clients about other personal trainers charging so much money and not even half as good as me, I realized that my lack of self-belief was holding me back.
I knew that I had the knowledge and skills to be a great personal trainer, but I needed to believe in myself to succeed.
So, I started taking action toward building my self-belief. I read books on self-improvement and personal development, sought feedback from colleagues and clients, and challenged myself to take on new projects and clients.
With each small success, my confidence grew, and I started to believe in myself more.
As my self-belief increased, my choices began to reflect this. I started taking on more clients and projects, and I put myself out there more, networking and promoting myself confidently.
As a result, my business started to thrive, and I started making progress toward my long-term goals.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
- Practice Self-Compassion: One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to be kind and compassionate toward yourself. This means being aware of your negative self-talk and replacing it with positive affirmations. For example, instead of saying “I can’t do this,” try saying “I can do this, I just need to figure out how.”
- Set Small Goals: Setting small, achievable goals can help you build momentum and confidence. It can be something as simple as going for a walk every day for a week or eating a healthy breakfast every morning for a month. By achieving these small goals, you can gain the confidence to tackle bigger ones.
- Celebrate Your Wins: Celebrating your wins, no matter how small, is crucial to building self-belief. Whenever you achieve a goal or make progress towards one, take a moment to acknowledge it and celebrate it. This will help you stay motivated and reinforce the belief that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
- Embrace Failure: Failure is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Instead of seeing failure as a setback, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. For example, when I first started lifting weights, I couldn’t even bench press the bar. Instead of giving up, I used that failure as motivation to keep working at it until I was eventually able to lift more weight.
- Surround Yourself With Positive People: The people you surround yourself with can have a big impact on your self-belief. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who will encourage and motivate you to achieve your goals. Avoid people who are negative or bring you down.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
If you’re struggling with a negative stream of self-criticism, my advice would be to focus on your strengths and accomplishments. It’s easy to get caught up in feelings of self-doubt, but try to remind yourself of all the things you’ve achieved and the skills and knowledge you have.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek out support from others — sometimes it’s helpful to have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
A big misconception is that self-confidence is something you either have or don’t.
But in reality, confidence is something that can be developed and nurtured over time. It takes practice and effort, but it’s definitely possible.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
Ah, imposter syndrome.
The feeling that you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, that you’re a fraud. It’s a common experience and one that I’ve struggled with myself.
Here’s what I would say to someone who’s dealing with imposter syndrome:
First of all, know that you’re not alone. Many successful people experience imposter syndrome, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not good enough or that you’re not qualified.
Try to identify where your imposter feelings are coming from. Is it a fear of failure? Fear of success? A sense of not belonging? Once you know the source, you can start to work on it.
One thing that has helped me is to focus on my strengths and accomplishments.
Write them down and remind yourself of them when you’re feeling insecure. It’s also important to recognize that everyone makes mistakes and has weaknesses.
It’s okay to not know everything or to make a mistake.
Another strategy is to talk to someone about your feelings. Share your concerns with a trusted friend, mentor, or therapist. Sometimes just talking it out can help you see things more clearly.
Finally, remember that imposter syndrome is not a permanent state. You can work through it and come out on the other side with more confidence and self-assurance.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the best for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Well, that’s a big question.
If I had to choose just one thing, I would say that I would want to inspire a movement around self-care and self-compassion.
So often we’re taught to put others first and to push ourselves to the limit, but taking care of ourselves is essential if we want to make a positive impact in the world.
Imagine a world where everyone took time to rest, recharge, and care for their mental and physical health. We would all be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. And when we’re at our best, we’re better able to help others and make a positive impact in the world.
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, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Oh wow, what a question! If I had to choose just one person, it would have to be David Goggins.
For those who don’t know him, David is a retired Navy SEAL and ultra-endurance athlete who has overcome incredible challenges to become one of the toughest and most inspiring men on the planet.
He is someone I deeply admire and I would love to sit down with him over breakfast or lunch and pick his brain about how he developed his incredible mindset and determination and overcame the many obstacles in his life.
I think there is so much we can all learn from David and his story, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to speak with him.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can check out my website: https://evandernelson.com/
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success.