Understand and accept your strengths and weaknesses. No one is amazing at everything and knowing your limits allows you to accommodate and improve them while focusing on where you can excel.

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 Jenifer Parsons.

Jen is an experienced business analyst, project manager, user-centered design researcher and entrepreneur who is achieving success with her website, Flipping BA, a platform that helps people find their passion and create a plan to reach their goals. Her publishing company, Flipping BA Books, produces complementary tools to support the process. Through 15 years of dedication to her craft, she has become known for her expert ability to plan complex projects with skillful execution.

After working at a billion-dollar ag company for many years, Jen became inspired to pursue something more fulfilling. She wanted to make a greater impact on society while also having more freedom over her time and work schedule. This desire eventually led her to founding Flipping BA and its associated publishing company, which are now empowering individuals to take control of their lives by planning out how to achieve their dreams and ambitions.

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?

Thank you so much for including me! I’m excited to share with you today!

I grew up in a small town in Iowa. My parents still live in the house they bought when I was 6 months old. Our community was small and new people in my world were few and far between. The people you knew had known you your whole life and they’d made up their minds about you years ago.

I was a very sensitive, empathetic child, quiet as a mouse and a bookworm. If you’re familiar with Myers-Briggs personality types, it might be helpful to know that I test consistently as an INFP now that I’ve settled into being myself. I spent a lot of time in my head, imagining grand adventures with the Hardy Boys, The Boxcar Children, and Nancy Drew.

As a highly sensitive kid, it was very easy for me to tell whether the people around me were happy, and as most kids do, I envisioned myself as the cause of that happiness or lack thereof. Without any understanding of my own wants and needs, I learned to become whatever I needed to be for the people around me. I lived a large portion of my life that way. Without being conscious of what I was doing, my opinions and preferences would orient to those of the primary person in my life at the time. At my worst, as a teenager, I let myself be pulled into dangerous situations when I knew I shouldn’t because it was what my friends wanted to do.

I was in my early 30s before I realized that I felt like a chameleon, constantly changing my colors to suit my current environment. It’s taken me several years since to truly know myself and learn what my real preferences are. Now, when I choose something to meet someone else’s inclination, it’s a conscious decision that I will balance later.

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

In my heart, I am a ‘maker.’ I love to solve puzzles and design solutions that improve people’s lives. My motivation comes from continuous curiosity, looking for ways to use my skills to create new things and to help people however I can. As my career has progressed, I’ve found ways to meet these objectives through my work in software design and now with my site and books.

Over time, I’ve assembled a group of mentors and friends who encourage me to take bigger steps and follow new paths. I’m leery of listing them here for fear of forgetting someone, but, through their belief in me, they’ve inspired me to believe in myself. They’ve taught me that anything is possible when you set your mind towards a goal and stay true to yourself along the journey.

One person who inspires me to action every day is my daughter. She motivates me with her boundless energy, creativity, and optimism. Seeing her courage and confidence encourages me to keep going even in moments when I may feel frustrated or doubtful about achieving a goal. Knowing that she believes in me reminds me that anything is possible if I’m willing to put in the effort. As she’s grown, I’ve realized that it’s my purview to teach her by example that she can do the big things, and all the small things she wants, even when they are scary or overwhelming.

Ultimately, my greatest source of motivation continues to come from within myself. The belief that, by working hard, dreaming big, and taking calculated risks, I’ll be able to achieve whatever goals I set for myself has kept me moving forward throughout my career so far.

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?

A few years ago, I was supposed to fly to Turkey to meet some friends in Istanbul. When it comes to preparing for a trip like that, I’m typically very well organized. I had used my passport a few months prior, so I was confident that I knew where it was.

I packed my things and was all set to go. My sister was house-sitting and driving me to the airport, so she came over a few hours before my flight. The last thing that I needed to grab was my passport.

To fully understand the story, you need to know that I’m a bit of a clutter bug. My organizational system is based around knowing where things are even though they are not necessarily “put away.” My passport was supposed to be midway down in a very specific pile of papers.

When it was time to grab my passport and put it in my bag, I cut the pile of papers in half and started leafing through… But my passport wasn’t there.

I flipped all the way through to the bottom of the pile, then all the way to the top. No passport. I started at the top and went all the way to the bottom again. No passport. I looked through every probable stack of papers in my house. No passport.

I could barely breathe. I was nearly in tears. I had spent nearly two hours looking for the passport. No luck. I texted my friends to tell them maybe I wasn’t going to make it to Turkey after all.

As I sat there, panicky and dejected, I realized that I truly believed that I wouldn’t have lost something so important. I decided to go through the first pile of papers, one more time. This time I opened anything that could hold something the size of a passport, envelopes, packets, pouches, even if it made no sense that a passport would be inside. And finally, in the middle of the pile, tucked inside a photo envelope from the pharmacy, I FOUND THE PASSPORT!!!

I made it to the airport and had an amazing time with my friends in Istanbul. It’s an incredible place if you ever have an opportunity to be there.

I learned a few lessons from that experience; 1) put your passport away after you use it, 2) don’t wait until the last minute to pack it, and 3) it pays to have faith in yourself even when you have every reason to doubt.

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

Right now, my favorite project is a quarterly planner designed to help people create the life they want. It encourages those who otherwise might not start at all to start small by thinking about what they want to get out of the next three months. The planner is an interactive tool that walks them through the process of envisioning where they want to go and breaking that vision down into a handful of achievable goals. Then, it guides them through defining bite-size tasks that will move them towards their goals and making room for those tasks in their already busy schedules.

My goal is to make changing your life seem as do-able as possible.

I feel like so many people continue down the path they’re on not because they particularly want it but because they are overwhelmed at the idea of finding their way to a new one. Ultimately, I hope this project empowers people with the tools they need to make meaningful changes in their lives without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by a daunting goal.

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?

Believing in yourself can open a world of opportunities. It gives you the courage to tackle obstacles head-on and, often, to achieve better-than-expected results. When you believe in yourself, you are more likely to take risks, try new things, and strive for success. This increased action opens the door to new potential opportunities that otherwise may not have been available. Over time, the cycle builds on itself and results compound into bigger and bigger successes.

Let’s use my own story as an example.

I daydreamed about running my own business for close to 20 years. I had so many ideas about what I could do but none of them seemed ‘good enough.’ Eventually, I was inspired to choose the name, Flipping BA, and establish a website, even though I hadn’t decided what I was going to do with it. I thought maybe I could teach people some of the things that I’d been learning, but who was I to teach others?

Then, I didn’t do anything with the site for more than 10 years. During that time, I was learning the things that I’m sharing with you today, learning to believe in myself enough to think that other people could benefit from what I have to say.

A few years ago, I started using YouTube and online courses to learn the different technical skills I might need. Eventually, I began designing and publishing low-content books, but it was still a few more years before I was willing to share my thoughts in words. Now, the compounding is starting to take effect. I’m communicating ideas on my blog, which is snowballing into the opportunity to do interviews like this one.

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 about having faith in your capabilities and your ability to use and develop them. It’s about having the confidence to work towards your dreams — no matter how lofty they may appear, even if you haven’t yet developed the skills you need to achieve them.

So, yes, you can believe that you can be a great artist even though you may not currently have top-level artistic abilities. It is possible to believe that you can become an Olympic gold medalist even if you’re not exceptionally athletic.

The key is to understand that ‘believing you can’ isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. It’s also going to take hard work and dedication. You can believe in any dream that your heart desires, but you also must put a plan in place and take action to achieve it. The loftier the dream, the more resources (i.e., time, energy, money) it’s going to take to get there.

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

When I was younger, feeling uncertain of myself and my own abilities, I let fear take over and dictate my decisions. The fear that came from not believing in myself stopped me from taking risks or trying anything new. This crippled my personal growth and development, as I was too scared to take a chance and fail. I felt stuck and out of control of the direction in which my life was headed.

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?

Several years into my career, I had built positive, supportive relationships with many of my co-workers. Over time, I realized that they believed in me more than I believed in myself, and that realization triggered a reevaluation of my whole life. That’s when things started to change for me.

Acknowledging where I needed to improve, understanding what caused me to feel this way, and being willing to take some risks despite my uncertainty were all crucial steps in overcoming my doubts and fears. Little by little, through trial and error, along with a lot of self-reflection, I became more confident. It gave me the courage to start actively pursuing more challenging opportunities while no longer hiding behind fear.

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

The key to learning to believe in yourself is to create opportunities for as many small successes as you can. These achievements will compound over time until, eventually, when you start something new, you’ll find that you’ve gone from the mindset of “Can I do this?” to “I can do this!”

With that in mind, here are my top 5 strategies:

Let’s use the artist example from above to demonstrate what I mean as we move through these strategies.

1 . Understand and accept your strengths and weaknesses. No one is amazing at everything and knowing your limits allows you to accommodate and improve them while focusing on where you can excel.

If you want to become a great artist, try many different styles of art until you find the one that suits you best. You may not be naturally good at drawing, which is the foundation to many forms of art, and you may not enjoy it enough to spend the time to learn, but you might find that you’re decent at sculpting and you love doing it. For you, becoming a great sculptor would be a much better approach to becoming a great artist.

2 . Set achievable goals for yourself. Big, ambitious goals can be broken down into smaller milestones and the small successes will motivate you to keep going.

Now that you’ve decided to become a great sculptor (your big, ambitious goal), some smaller steps that you could take immediately might be 1) visit museums and art galleries to see what styles inspire you and 2) take a sculpting class to learn the skills you need. Once you’ve gotten some experience, you might set the goal to 3) set up a shop in an online marketplace to offer your sculptures for sale. Before you know it, your next ‘small’ goal could be 453) prepare for my showing at <insert famous gallery name here>.

3 . Take care of yourself. How you feel has a big impact on your motivation to try new, challenging things.

While you’re busy filling your days with museum tours and sculpting classes, it can be easy to forget to make time for eating, sleeping, and exercising. Those things are important, too, though. Without them, you’ll eventually be too worn out to figure out how to set up your online shop.

4 . Surround yourself with positive people. Support and encouragement from your friends and family can help shift your mindset, if you let yourself believe them.

The people in your closest relationships should be your biggest cheerleaders. When your most recent attempt at that clay dog sculpture turns out more than a little lop-sided, you don’t want the most important people in your life to be the ones that say “That looks stupid. You’re never going to be any good at this.” You want the people who help you think through “What would you do differently the next time you try?”

5 . Give yourself grace when you make mistakes. Learn what you can from them and move on. Don’t let them stop you from trying again.

The one person that you can’t get away from is yourself. If you’re the one who is saying “That looks stupid. You’re never going to be any good at this,” take a step back and ask yourself if you would say the same to your child or your best friend. If the answer is no, give yourself that same grace that you would give to them. You deserve it, too.

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

When you find yourself getting pulled into a stream of self-criticism, remember to give yourself the same grace you would give to others. Take some time to remind yourself of your favorite past successes or positive feedback you’ve received in the past. If you’re in the middle of working on something that is really challenging you, take a quick break, if you can, or briefly switch to something you’re more comfortable doing to give you a quick confidence boost.

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

To me, being confident isn’t about having a big ego or feeling superior, it’s all about trusting in your capabilities and taking risks without constantly worrying about the outcome.

Another thing to keep in mind is that building confidence doesn’t happen overnight. It is a cycle of personal growth and success that takes time and effort to build. Committing for the long-term is essential for achieving greater things.

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

I understand how it feels to be bogged down by imposter syndrome — the feeling of not belonging or being good enough. I want to remind you that it’s only fear, the fear of judgment from others, the fear of failure, and it’s totally normal! Everyone has imposter syndrome at times, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

Don’t let the fear stop you from making progress. Just keep going and proudly recognize the things that you have achieved so far — no matter how small they may be — as these are your building blocks towards bigger success in the future.

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.

If I could inspire a movement, it would be one of tolerance, acceptance, and understanding. As humans living in an increasingly diverse world where our beliefs and circumstances differ so greatly, it is imperative that we treat others with respect and recognize we share more in common than we have differences.

It’s easy to forget how interconnected we all are and how each decision we make can affect those around us — both positively and negatively. To create a better future for us all, it’s important that we allow ourselves to consider views different from our own while providing our own opinions. When we start listening to each other again, learning from one another, real progress can be made. We need to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but no one has the right to put down someone else for having a different one.

If we can focus on celebrating cultural diversity rather than vilifying it; come together as global citizens instead of retreating into tribalism; create open spaces where conversations can take place without prejudice or judgment; then together we can build a more tolerant world that works for us all!

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 would love to have the opportunity to spend time with Brenè Brown and Mel Robbins. Both of these strong, powerful women are changing the world with their willingness to share their vulnerability so openly with all of us. Brenè’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, initiated my own journey into self-acceptance. There were chapters of that book that hit so close to home that I couldn’t even read them the first time through. Mel consistently gives me tangible micro-actions that I can incorporate into my routines to make a huge difference in my motivation and confidence through her eponymous YouTube channel and podcast.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

If you’re interested in more of my work, you can follow me online at my site, Flipping BA, linked at the beginning of the interview, and @FlippingBABooks on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.


  • 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.