The Importance of Self Belief

15 April 2016

The barriers to success

There are several factors that can stop a young person from doing as well as they could do at school. The list is a long one indeed: family/difficult circumstances at home, friendship issues and bullying are just some of the factors that can have a negative impact.

On the part of the individual student, poor behaviour or a poor work ethic (often stemming from some of the above problems, of course) certainly don't help. Most of us will find certain subjects harder than others - although to a large extent this can be overcome by hard work and dedication.

But perhaps the biggest barriers of all are a fear of failure and a lack of self-belief.

The fear of failure

If you lack self-belief, generally you will have a fear of failure and in an education setting this usually manifests itself with a student feeling stressed, under pressure or simply 'giving up.'

Inspiration can often be taken from quotes and you'll find no shortage of them about the topic of failure. Google 'failure quotes' and you'll see literally thousands of them right there in front of you just one click away. One of the most famous is this from Britain's leader during World War Two, Winston Churchill:

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

What Churchill actually does here is sum up failure perfectly in one sentence. Try applying it to school studies: A disappointing mock exam result or coursework mark is not 'fatal.' It won't kill you. It isn't 'the end.' 

Picking yourself up and going again, listening to the advice you have been given, learning from your mistakes you've made and working to meet the targets you have been set is having 'the courage to continue.' 

It takes guts. It requires determination. You need self-belief.

Similarly, doing brilliantly in one piece of work is obviously a great sign of success - but that success is not 'final.' It isn't 'the end' either. You need to try and repeat the success on the next piece of work and the next.

You still need to go again. It still takes guts. It still requires determination. You still need self-belief.

Nobody likes to fail but one failure does not make you a complete failure in the same way that one success does not make you a complete success.

Everybody fails at some point

Just as you can find thousands of quotes about failure, you can also look to many examples of famous people and role models that have all failed at some point (sometimes in quite spectacular fashion) before (or even after) becoming successful.

Walt Disney, one of the biggest names in movie history, was once fired by his boss because he, "lacked imagination and had no good ideas." He started (and failed) several businesses and ended up bankrupt. But Disney kept trying, kept learning and eventually found his winning formula with Disney films. The rest, as they say, is history.

Albert Einstein is seen by most as a genius. He also didn't speak until he was four. He didn't learn to read until he was seven and he was expelled from school.

J.K. Rowling became the world's first billionaire female author with her 'Harry Potter' books. Five years before she became a billionaire she was virtually penniless and struggling to make ends meet.

Michael Jordan is probably the most famous (and certainly the richest) basketball player of all time. Many would say he was also the best player of all time too - but he was dropped from his high school team. He experienced unprecedented success in the sport, but he has this to say:

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." 

How to develop self-belief

The key to stop fearing failure is to believe in yourself. Here are some tips:

  1. Set challenging but realistic goals

If you set yourself targets or goals that are unrealistic, you are setting yourself up to fail - and when we fail, our self-belief drops. This often leads to us giving up altogether.

Instead, set targets that are going to be a challenge for you - but that are achievable with hard work and determination. When you succeed (which you will), your self-belief grows and you can push yourself move. Gradually you are aiming higher.

2. Appreciate your strengths 

People who lack self-belief often find it difficult to appreciate their own strengths - they only see the 'weaknesses' and the things they feel they are not good at.

Focus on the positives every single day. Think about the things you are good at or the positive aspects of your character. Remember, nobody is perfect. Everybody has positives and negatives to their character. Find what your positives are and do not forget them.

3. Don't compare yourself. 

Never compare yourself to ANYBODY else - whether it's your sibling, friend or a celebrity. Take inspiration from others, yes, but don't compare yourself to them. You are unique. You need to be yourself because you can't be anyone else - and you shouldn't want to be.

4. Never stop developing

You never stop learning in life. Learning certainly isn't just something you do at school. Always try to push yourself with tasks and challenges. Your self-belief works like a mirror image of how well you handle things in life. If you aim to be your best in everything you do, your best will become better and your self-belief will grow.



Used by British and International schools around the world