The first thing I do is help people to increase their awareness of what’s going on around them and inside of them. When we become aware of those things, we begin to notice patterns in our thinking and in our behavior. For example, many of us have a tendency to engage in negative self-talk. We put ourselves down by saying things like — I can’t do this or I’ll never be able to do that. When you catch yourself thinking that way, you then have the opportunity to change your thinking, right then and there.
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 Stanley Bronstein.
30 years ago, Stanley Bronstein, Attorney, CPA, Broker and Author maxed out at 367 pounds. As recently as 15 years ago, he was still 320 pounds. Today he weighs 135 pounds and he did it all with no drugs or surgeries. Along the way, he created his system of personal development that incorporates the skills he cultivated to lose 230+ pounds and keep it off.
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?
My childhood was pretty normal until, at the age of 8, my mother, who had been very sick, died. Needless to say, I was unprepared. That singular event, 55 years ago, has had a major impact on my life. Undoubtedly my previous lifetime of being massively obese sprang from this one event. But, it has also served as the catalyst for all of the wonderful things that are happening today.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I had many people who inspired me, but the 2 most impactful sources of inspiration were my mother and my father. My mother worked very hard to get me off to as good of a start as possible, before she died. My father then picked up the pieces and raised me. He taught me the value of hard work and honesty. Those are 2 very important traits that have served me well.
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?
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “the walls have ears?” Well, I learned this valuable lesson many years ago when I said some overly critical things about a person (that I never should have said), all while their spouse was sitting next to me. Very embarrassing and I definitely learned a lesson from the experience.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am working on 2 major projects at the moment. The first is my YouTube channel called The Way of Excellence. I use that channel to introduce people into my system of personal development and to help give them the tools to change their life. This has allowed me the opportunity to shift from practicing law full time to doing something I truly love (helping people change their lives the way I was able to change mine). You can view the channel at YouTube.TheWayOfExcellence.com
The second project is an offshoot from my YouTube channel that’s called Stanley Beat Obesity and you and your family can too. In this offshoot, My co-host (Deb Anderson) and I have weekly discussions about all things related to obesity and the things people can do to get their weight off and to keep it off. Our focus is helping shift from the traditional American diet to a more whole foods, plant-based diet. Scientific research has shown, pretty conclusively in my opinion, that plant based is the way to go if you want to live a long, healthy life. Because it’s so different from the traditional American diet, people are often reluctant to make such a switch. My partner and I consult with people directly to help make such a switch much easier. You can give these videos at YouTube.StanleyBeatObesity.com
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 am often asked what is the biggest problem the people of America (and the world face). I tell them, it’s that we don’t believe in our abilities, in our talents and in our ideas. Belief is so crucial, it’s Concept #17 in The Way of Excellence System I developed.
Quite simply, until such time as we believe that which we want is truly possible, we’re never going to achieve our maximum potential and evolve as a species.
Belief is key. If you truly believe you can do a thing, you are more likely to actually do that thing. If you believe you cannot do a thing, chances are you never will.
If all of us, as individuals and as a collective, learned to believe in ourselves, we would create a society where so many more wonderful, positive things are possible, thus empowering all for the benefit of all.
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?
While I believe we can accomplish just about anything we put our minds to, there are obviously some limits. While I think I’ve become a good athlete, I don’t think (at the age of 63) that I’m ever going to become the starting 2nd baseman for the Houston Astros. That’s not going to happen. HOWEVER, I can instead exercise daily, push myself daily, cultivate myself daily so that, over time, I can be in the best shape of my life. That’s exactly what I’ve done over the last 15 years and the results are nothing short of miraculous.
Did I believe I could ever do what I did (lose 230+ pounds and keep it off? I’m not sure. But, now that I’ve done so, it’s caused me to think bigger and to realize that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined. It has also led me to believe that ALL OF US, are capable of so much more than we might have ever imagined.
Now I work with people to help that happen.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
It’s funny. When it came to my career, I also believed in myself. That’s how I became first a CPA, then a real estate broker, then an attorney and then an author. I could not have done that without believing in myself, But, on the flip side, my physical health was a mess. I also had the belief that I “could” take the weight off, but I was never willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
That’s why, as much as this article focuses on belief, I think willingness is equally important. You can believe that you can do just about anything, but if you’re not willing to do what it takes, your belief is worthless. That’s why Willingness is Concept #16 in The Way of Excellence system I developed.
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?
On February 1, 2009 I had an epiphany. I woke up and told my wife I’m done playing this game. It was 4 months before my 50th birthday and I realized that if I didn’t start eating better and didn’t start exercising, I would be dead before I made it to 60. Right then and there I began taking action that was consistent with my belief and now 14+ years later I’m enjoying the benefits of that decision.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . The first thing I do is help people to increase their awareness of what’s going on around them and inside of them. When we become aware of those things, we begin to notice patterns in our thinking and in our behavior. For example, many of us have a tendency to engage in negative self-talk. We put ourselves down by saying things like — I can’t do this or I’ll never be able to do that. When you catch yourself thinking that way, you then have the opportunity to change your thinking, right then and there.
2 . I teach people the STOP method. STOP stands for STOP, THINK, OBSERVE and PROCEED. If we learn to pause, even if for only a moment, it gives us a chance to analyze our thinking and our behavior so we can then consciously act, as opposed to unconsciously reacting.
3 . I teach people to have confidence, faith and trust in their talents, abilities and ideas. I have them go through previous times in their life when they succeeded and then help them take a deep hard look at that experience, all while looking for times when their talents and abilities were showcased and their ideas worked well. This reinforces their belief in themselves and helps to instill confidence, keep the faith and to trust themselves.
4 . I share my personal story of massive weight loss with them and tell them how the experience made me realize I was incredibly powerful and that I was capable of doing way more than I ever believed possible. I then tell them that as a result of said experience, it made me realize that they too are more powerful than they might have ever imagined. This helps boost their confidence and the results are fantastic.
5 . For my private clients, I take them through the entire 20 parts of The Way of Excellence system and help them apply the concepts of said system to their personal situation. The 20 concepts in the system are universal, but applying those concepts to their story is personal. For example, I was working with a weight loss client today and as we went through the system, I pointed out how each concept applied to my weight loss journey and how they might apply to hers. It made her feel much better to realize that she wasn’t alone in her thoughts and feelings and that she wasn’t broken. She just needs to realize that she can do it and put that knowledge to use to change her own life.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
Again, I refer you back to the STOP method listed previously in this article. If we learn to STOP, even for the briefest instant, it gives us the opportunity to catch ourselves when we are engaging in negative self-talk and then to adjust course and to think positively, instead of negatively.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Yes. I want everyone to realize that no matter what their previous experiences have been, it’s never too late to change and it’s never too late to start having positive, confidence building activities. I waited until I was almost 50 to change and I want to help people realize they don’t have to wait that long and that they too are capable of some pretty amazing things.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
We all are worthy and we all have the capability of succeeding. We all deserve to succeed. Unfortunately, some of us have a tougher time believing that, because of their earlier life experiences. The best thing one can do is realize that the past is what we learn from and NOT where we should live. Example your past. Learn from your past. Then move on …
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.
Boy, you hit my thoughts right on the head. My goal is for millions of people, of all ages, to be exposed to The Way of Excellence System and to incorporate it into their lives. I believe that iIf that were to happen, the world would definitely change for the better.
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’ll give you some from each category.
Business — Karen Lynch (CVS Health) or any of the other large health related companies, so we could discuss the obesity epidemic faced by America and my proposed solutions for addressing said epidemic.
VC Funding — Anyone who wants to fund an app that will help educate people, worldwide, about how whole foods, plant based eating, exercise and mindfulness would change their lives and change the world.
Sports — Any leading athlete who does good work to help people, such as a J J Watt (formerly of the Houston Texans). Anyone who wants to help people and who is in a positive to help people would be fantastic.
Entertainment — Levar Burton. I’ve followed his work for pretty much most of his career and the work he did with Reading Rainbow is noteworthy. He understands. He gets it.
However, I’m not restricted to just those people. I have the ideas and I’m building my network to get those ideas out there and into the hands of people. Introducing me to anyone you know who can help me do it better and more quickly would be fantastic.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can subscribe to my YouTube channel at YouTube.TheWayOfExcellence.com
You can subscribe and watch recordings of my weekly Zoom chat on obesity related topics at YouTube.StanleyBeatObesity.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.