Celebrate all your wins, big or small! We’re so quick to beat ourselves up about what goes wrong and what we don’t like about ourselves. But when is the last time you patted yourself on the back? I try to celebrate every win. Got up on time, win. Worked out as I promised myself, win. Had a great time with my wife, win! As you begin to realize all the positivity in your life, it becomes so much easier to believe there’s more to come.
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 James Matte.
James is a life-long passionate entrepreneur, investor and business owner. Tapping into his over 20 years of business management and leadership experience, has been coaching and training clients & teams on mindset and performance strategies for the past 4 years. Recently partnering up with EmergentQx, James works with partners Pete and Dean to deliver groundbreaking tactics to achieve quantum leaps in mindset and personal and professional development.
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?
You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure to be here. As a child, I was blessed to have an amazing mother who worked tirelessly to instill in us an amazing moral and value system. In my early years, my family moved quite a few times and my parents split up when I was 7, leaving my Mom to raise 3 boys on her own. She always did her best and put us boys first, but after relying on my father for many years to be the bread winner she wasn’t positioned very well financially to raise a family. My father offered little support in this regard. Wearing hand-me-downs and clothes from the thrift shop (before it was made cool by Macklemore) positioned me to deal with some bullying and other situations that really had a negative impact on my self-esteem. And, it’s so hard when you’re growing up to differentiate between finances and self-worth. Financial and peer challenges aside, I had a stable home and much to be thankful for.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My biggest motivating factor as a child was growing up in a low-income family. The struggles and hearing phrases such as “we can’t afford that”, or “it’s too expensive” drove me crazy. Growing up in an oil town and seeing all the other kids my age with super expensive toys, sports, hobbies, and brand name clothes led me to make a promise to myself that I would never struggle like this as an adult.
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?
Well, it can be tough to laugh at while you’re making the mistake, but looking back I find it funny that I used to partner with people out of convenience. Friends, family, etc. It can seem like a great strategy when you’re hanging out and brainstorming business ides to work with people who are close to you, but what about qualifications and experience? Pretty laughable that I once assumed I could force a round peg into a square hole, so to speak.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I learned a ton about recognizing and seeking out top talent. I also learned how to recognize opportunity and partner with the right people for success.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
That’s a great question. Pete, Dean and I have some amazing programs under development at EmergentQx that are designed to bring performance tactics utilized by C-Suite Executives to the average person and/or business owner. Giving people the tools and skills to perform at a high level gives them the confidence to believe in themselves and achieve goals they may have previously not thought possible.
I also have several other projects underway, but I can’t share them here unless we have you and all of your readers sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. (laughs)
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?
Definitely. This gets into physiology and psychology. The way our minds work, specifically our Reticular Activating System, our brains create our perceived reality from experience and beliefs. Basically, what you’re exposed to plays a large roll in what you think is possible, and even what you can see.
About 80% of what you “see” with your eyes is actually constructed by our RAS so that we can process data faster. This is why a professional in any field will notice details that others untrained in that field don’t. And this is why even with thousands of people in a stadium, no one can agree on how to call a play.
The numbers are similar in our consciousness as well. About 20% of your brains activity is conscious while about 80% of it is subconscious. This allows us to keep our heart beating without sitting there concentrating on making it happen. Our minds are super-efficient, which is both good and bad.
Why this is important is because if we continuously beat ourselves up or doubt ourselves, our minds will start to implement these thought patterns without our effort. Once you’ve burned this into your mind your running with a negative autopilot. This will actually limit what you perceive and believe is possible and you can end up in a perpetual downward spiral.
A great story is when I started my 3rd or 4th business. I had no project management experience, no experience running a multi-million-dollar organization and was missing many of the skills most would consider necessary in such an endeavor. But I was unaware of this, set my site on my goals and grew the business so fast people started asking me how I did it.
If I had doubted myself I likely wouldn’t have started. After all, why would you ever begin an impossible task?
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 is simply recognizing possibility. Once it’s out of the realm of possibility and into reality you don’t “believe”, you “know”.
You can choose to believe anything about yourself that you desire. This goes back to the last rhetorical question I posed. If you don’t believe it’s possible, why ever start? One of my mentors once told me “if anyone else can do it, why can’t you?”. This has become a mantra of mine; “if they can do it, I can do it”.
We aren’t born anything. Skill is developed. No child is born an Olympian or Artist. We recognize and pursue possibility, which becomes our opportunity.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Yes. Between the ages of 10–14 especially. Dealing with father abandonment, living a low income lifestyle and not having many opportunities presented to me was devastating. This led me towards skipping school, getting into fights and holding myself back in bitterness. It can be so easy to engage in self-destructive behavior when you don’t believe in yourself.
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?
Sure. Just before I turned 15 life took me out of my small hometown and into the big city. It was at this point I made a decision to not be bullied or looked down on any more. I recognized an opportunity to totally reinvent myself because nobody in my new city had a preconceived idea of who I was, or was supposed to be. I realized I could be whoever I wanted!
Although it wasn’t an aha moment in which I realized how important believing in myself was, it was this transformation that made me realize I could do this in any area of my life. This led me towards believing in myself, my abilities, and the possibility for positive growth in any direction.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Write down your goals in the affirmative. Using one of your examples above; if I wanted to become an Olympian I might write “I am growing and improving every day and working towards my goal of competing in the Olympics. I am, or I am becoming, an Olympic Athlete.” You’ll want to expand on this and really try to embody the identity in the way you write your goals. Read these aloud to yourself every morning when you wake up, and for extra impact again at lunch and before bed time.
2 . Use positive affirmations to reprogram your subconscious. One of my favorites is “I am happy, healthy, wealthy and free”. Repeat your affirmations out loud 3 times and put some excitement and energy behind them! Consistent repetition of these and your goals will eventually override the negative programs in your brain.
3 . Eat well. This is so often overlooked. Reduce or eliminate processed foods and refined sugars. Your brain and body can’t function without the proper nutrients. Garbage in, garbage out. If you’re not firing on all cylinders, it’s tough to feel good about yourself.
4 . Be active and exercise regularly. You’ll feel better physically, your mind will function on a higher level, and as your body improves over time you’ll start to recognize your growth. This will contribute to a positive self-image and make it easier for you to believe in yourself.
5 . Celebrate all your wins, big or small! We’re so quick to beat ourselves up about what goes wrong and what we don’t like about ourselves. But when is the last time you patted yourself on the back? I try to celebrate every win. Got up on time, win. Worked out as I promised myself, win. Had a great time with my wife, win! As you begin to realize all the positivity in your life, it becomes so much easier to believe there’s more to come.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
This is inevitable and I’m so glad you asked this question. Our brains are wired to help us survive, not to help us thrive. If you shoot to push yourself into something new and out of your comfort zone, out will come the negative thoughts to hold you back. But this is just a survival instinct. The amazing thing about humans is we can override our instinct! Think of this self-criticism akin to a doting mother who has your best interest in mind.
Just as you would with your mother, politely decline the fear-based criticism and reply to yourself with one of your affirmations. An example could be, if I wanted to push into a new industry and my mind told me “I don’t have the knowledge and skills so I’ll fail”, I would catch that thought and think or say to myself “Thank you for the comment, but that’s not true. If they can do it, I can do it. I have been successful in new industries in the past and I can do it again!”.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Wow, amazing question. The biggest misconception is that this can be achieved in the mind alone. You have to take action and action is what most people are missing. This is a shortfall caused by how most of us are educated, but that’s another topic.
If you set goals, make positive affirmations, but don’t follow through with action you will just be lying to yourself. You can set the goal to be an Olympian and say all the affirmations you want. If you don’t take action you’re breaking your own trust and this could result in the opposite effect, disliking yourself even more.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
Awesome flow from the last question. Take massive action! If you want to be an amazing guitarist, play as much as possible, and guess what? If you play regularly, you are a guitarist! And if you play regularly for long enough, it’s inevitable that you will become amazing at it.
Impostor syndrome is a symptom of us knowing we’re not giving it everything we have. Give it your all and don’t give up.
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 would want to inspire a movement of personal accountability. If there’s something in your life you want to change or improve, cut the excuses, be accountable and get to work. As I like to put it, reasons or results? Everyone has a laundry list of reasons they’re not getting the result they want. Confident, successful people produce results because they ignore these reasons, believe in themselves and possibility and… You guessed it — they do the work that no one else can do for 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 🙂
We sure are blessed. At this moment Ray Dalio comes to mind. I have such a high level of respect for everything he has built and achieved. Not only that, he’s been putting so much out there for everyone, much of it for free, sharing the experience he has gained to help others and to have a positive effect on humanity as a whole. Ray, if you’re reading this, I have much love and respect for you. Let’s do lunch!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and shoot me a message: linkedin.com/in/james-matte-29884a19b/ and check out EmergentQx at: https://www.emergentqx.com.au.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.
Your welcome. I wish the same to you and all of your readers.