03
Believe in yourself
You have to expect things of yourself before you can do
them.
Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time
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What you have discovered so far
I Self-awareness is the first stepping stone
to building self-confidence.
I How to discover yourself your true self through a personal profiler,
31-question, self-test programme.
I Your personal profiler and your beliefs play a major part in determining
your levels of confidence.
What you are going to discover
I How to break the habit of assumptions and misguided illusions.
I How you form beliefs.
I How to build up your self-belief.
Barriers to self-belief
We all carry around beliefs that have become habitual ways of
thinking: these can either limit us or help us depending on how
we embed that belief. Here is a typical self-imposed illusion that
is misplaced and damaging.
Case study: A matter of degrees
Sally Davies and Bob Gordon do excellent jobs and are in middle
management in an international travel organisation. They are not at
senior level yet, but they are capable, valued people, well respected for
What Sally and Bob fail to see is that people with degrees make
just as many mistakes and have just as many negative experi-
ences, but they link them to something other than a lack of a
qualification – something that has just as much impact on their
confidence, but that Sally and Bob are
either unaware of or have chosen to
ignore. What they are doing in their minds
to hinder their levels of confidence is not
unique to them.
Are you influenced more by other peoples beliefs
than your own true experience?
The power of belief over experience
It is easy to see how beliefs around education are formed in a
society that consistently reminds us that ‘education is every-
thing’ and you cannot get a good job without a degree’. What is
interesting is that, even when you meet someone who has done
well for themselves without a degree and therefore proves the
belief to be invalid, the belief stays alive and current because so
many other people believe it. So you are influenced more by
other people’s beliefs than your own true experience. Such is
the power of belief and the immense impact your beliefs have on
your confidence levels.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
55
their commitment and ability to get things done. Yet independently they
feel lacking in confidence because they do not have a university degree.
They both habitually compare themselves with colleagues who have
university degrees and select their own negative experiences as evidence
that they could do better if they had one.
We are not suggesting that education is unnecessary, rather that
a lack of education (or lack of the appropriate education) should
not be used as a comparison with others, and as an excuse for
things not working out, or being a disadvantage. It is equally
compelling that many highly educated people, many academics,
are so caught up in their intellectual prowess that they have dif-
ficulty breaking out of their thinking mode to take action about
anything tangible or practical.
The business world has many high-profile examples of street-
wise individuals with a basic education becoming successful by
applying what they learnt about people and life. As Mark Twain
said, ‘I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.’
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin global brand, said of his
biggest motivation, ‘I just keep challenging myself. I see life
almost like one long university education that I never had
every day I’m learning something new.’
Jamie Oliver left school at 16 to enrol in a catering college; John
Madejski is a self-made magnate worth £350 million, ‘I never
passed an exam . . . I put my success down to going to the uni-
versity of life; Bill Gates of Microsoft and Michael Dell both
dropped out of university to pursue the ‘university of life’ and
start up alone in business, as did Gordon Ramsay, Simon Cowell
and the late Dame Anita Roddick.
A survey of small business bosses carried out by YouGov on
behalf of Barclays Local Business Banking in May 2007 revealed
that only 11 per cent believe that having a good education is
crucial to being a success in business (and less than half actually
had a degree). So the argument that educational qualifications
are essential to business success are just as misguided.
Here is another example of self-imposed limitations kept alive
despite evidence to the contrary but nevertheless having an
impact on confidence.
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