“If we don’t like what’s going on outside, we’ve got to go inside, and change our beliefs.”[ii]
Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, for episode #199 on “The Neuroscience Behind Self-Belief” that I want to dive into instead of the episode I was planning on writing this week, (a deep dive into David A. Sousa’s NEW Edition of How the Brain Learns), that I will release next week instead.
For those new, welcome, I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment.
Sometimes we must listen to what’s going on around us, and I got the message loud and clear this week, that made me pivot towards this topic of self-belief. This week I met my good friend, Patti Knoles, for coffee. We used to work together years ago when we both worked for Bob Proctor in the seminar industry, and although we live in the same state, it’s been a few years since we met up in person, but after the news earlier this month, we decided to meet and share some memories.
Patti Knoles with her daughter, Jessica Knoles
NOTE-- For those who follow this podcast and tuned into our final episode of our Think and Grow Rich Book Study[iii], you will know that my mentor, Bob Proctor sadly passed away earlier this month and I dedicated that final episode to him. After I released that episode, I knew I needed more time to just process everything and wasn’t finished. I wanted to stay open to what else I could cover, that would make an impact for everyone else who tunes in, while saying goodbye to the man behind the work that I do, so I just kept my eyes and ears open and went to meet Patti for coffee.
Patti Knoles, is a quiet, yet fierce force behind many creative efforts with Bob Proctor’s seminars, since the late 1990s when I first met her. She’s a graphic designer by trade, but so much more than that. She’s a true visionary, with a talent of combining her creative ability, with her imagination and thoughtfulness, bringing something powerful out in her work. It was Patti who I asked to design the covers of my two books, because I wanted her talent to shine through with my work, which it did. The Secret for Teens Revealed[iv] that was published in 2008 won an outstanding book sales award, and the publisher funded my second book, Level Up[v] with this incentive that ended up helping thousands of teens globally to go after their dreams, and live the life they imagined.[vi]
Think about this for a second. When we know what we want, we’ve got to start with writing it down. Writing causes thinking, thinking creates an image and this is where ALL ideas begin. Patti was able to take what I wrote down and turn it into an image that would later impact thousands of others around the world. Your ideas, or what you want to create, really do have the ability to change the world. I wonder if you believe that?
When I met Patti for coffee, she had a bag, and a gift for me that I’ve got to say was the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. To honor Bob’s legacy, Patti created coffee mugs that had a photo of Bob, saying “Live Like Bob” and on the side she inscribed “BE. DO. HAVE. GIVE.” which she had heard him say often. There was so much thought to this gift, but the icing on the cake came with the card that had a whole bunch of sayings that I know Bob said all the time, that have stuck in my head over the years. I’ve got the card and mug on my desk as a great reminder to DREAM BIG and NEVER GIVE UP on my vision.
The biggest AHA moment I had from my meeting with Patti is that we ALL have the ability to make an impact on the world with our ideas. It wasn’t just Bob Proctor who inspired the work that I do, but many others that I met along the way, like Patti who designed the cover of my two books, and then the teens who would drive our programs to new heights. Then the educators I met along the way, paving my path forward. Once we take action with the ideas that we want, we will meet many others, along the way to drive us forward.
I don’t know who has inspired the work that YOU do, but I’m sure there’s someone you look up to, that you want to live up to their example. You want to live like they do. This is why they are called mentors. Who has inspired you? What is YOUR vision? Who will YOU inspire with your work? Do you know what you want to do? Have you written it out? Are you hanging out with people who inspire you to move towards what you want?
If you’ve listened to the 6 Part Series of our Think and Grow Rich book review, you will remember that when I was in my late 20s, Bob Proctor asked me “what do you really want?” and I was caught off guard, because no one had ever asked me that before but there was more to it. I didn’t have a clear vision and didn’t have self-belief. I’m sure many of you listening can think back to your late 20s (if you are older than that now) and remember how you were in those early years when you were just figuring life out.
Back then, I didn’t believe I could have the things I really wanted. Who was I to think I could move to a new country and make an impact in the field of education? Proctor had us write out our goals and design that life that we wanted, with the book Think and Grow Rich as his guide post, and I still have my first sketches of the house I imagined living in, the car in the driveway, the family I envisioned, and the life I’m living today that’s not far off from the vision he had me create over 20 years ago. But it wasn’t always that way. If you knew me back then you’d remember, just like Patti who remembers those early days when I was carving out the vision.
You can see for yourself with a snapshot of my goals from 1999, the year I met Proctor. He would describe me as a “scared schoolteacher”, and I didn’t like that identity. But it was true. Based on my upbringing, it wasn’t easy to DREAM BIG, or think of BEING LEGENDARY, and I wasn’t someone who TOOK CHANCES. All of this took time from those beginning days when Proctor said, “What do you really want?” and I wrote them down. It began here, and you can see that Bob wrote his number at the top of the page for me to call him if I had any questions. At that moment, I made a pact to follow through and never give up on this vision that began with doing everything I was fearful of doing. I don’t know if you can relate, or if you have any fears, but I think EVERY high school student should have a list of things they really want to do, and a plan to work past their fears. This is where self-belief begins.
When I met Patti that day, we were reminded of where we began, and of how much our lives changed by living it, by our own design. Not by chance or luck, but by pushing past obstacles, fears and being relentless with this push.
We all begin here. With doubts, fears, and insecurities. We must do the work to discover our own self-belief and that was the whole idea of covering the 6 PART book study of Think and Grow Rich at the start of this year. At the end of this book study, I ask “Do you have an unwavering belief in whatever it is that you want to achieve” and urge us to all put some serious thought into this. It’s because I remember the days when I didn’t have it.
If you want to see my interview with Bob Proctor, and where my vision for the school market began over 20 years ago, go back to episode #66[vii] where this vision began, and EPISODE #67[viii] on the Top Lessons learned working with him for six years in the late 1990s. I only scratch the surface of the lessons learned in those six years, that carved the path for the future that began with this list of goals in the late 90s.
Meeting with Patti this week, I was reminded that in that final episode, I left something important out and didn’t want to move on without addressing the importance of our self-awareness, right down to understanding our identity, because if we ignore this, it will impact our ability to reach our highest potential. We did cover the neuroscience of belief on episode #173[ix] where we talked about the importance of understanding our cognitive biases, and how flawed our beliefs are and to be open to challenging our beliefs.
What is the Neuroscience of Self-Belief?
But what about self-belief? You can clearly see by the goals I wrote in 1999 that I didn’t have “an unwavering belief” in my vision, if I even had a vision at all. This all took time, work, and awareness, for self-belief to form with each success or win to propel the vision forward.
It begins with self-awareness that we covered on EPISODE #2[x] of our podcast back in July of 2019 and that “we must know our identity to reach our highest level of potential” and once you can see that you have the ability to reach whatever it is that you set your mind to, you’ll see that the opportunities in life are limitless. You’ll develop that unwavering belief.
Where does self-belief come from? How does it become instilled in us? How can we inspire it in others?
Researchers at Dartmouth College have identified a region of the human brain that seems to predict a person’s self-esteem levels, or what they think of themselves (where our identity begins that leads us to our self-belief).
“It's called the frontostriatal pathway, and the stronger and more active it is in the brain, the more self-esteem someone has.”[xi] Lead author Robert Chavez found that self-esteem lies in this pathway as shown in the image in the show notes and that “this pathway connects the medial PFC that deals with self-knowledge to the ventral striatum that deals with feelings of motivation and reward.” He called this pathway “the road” and that “a person with a strong road was more likely to have higher long-term self-esteem.” He also reminded us “how repeated behaviors (like meditation) can alter brain traits,” leading me to think back to our Think and Grow Rich book study and whether the repeated action of reading and writing our goals twice a day could strengthen this pathway, and self-esteem, leading to a stronger belief in whatever it is we are working towards. It would make sense to me that this is true, as well, that this pathway is strengthened with daily practice (whether it’s through meditation, a sport, or practicing an academic skill) that we learned from Dr. John Dunlosky’s work from EPISODE #37.[xii]
Using a Power Identity to Get to Your Next Level
Aside from repeated behaviors to strengthen our self-belief, through an increased self-esteem, what else can we do? I first heard of the concept of creating an “alter ego” when I interviewed multi-platinum recording artist, Sean Kingston in 2009 for the Teen Performance Magazine[xiii] when he was talking about how important it was for him to inspire self-esteem in his music. I became an instant fan of his work while preparing for that interview where he explained that he used certain strategies to move him forward. He depicted the “alter ego” in his song Face Drop[xiv] as an inner power or strength that gave him a new identity when he was singing, to help him to overcome his fears, insecurities and doubts. I don’t think I fully understood this concept until recently, when author Todd Herman hit many of the speaking circuits with his book The Alter Ego Effect, that he explains on Tom Bilyeu’s podcast[xv] and another podcast I heard recently[xvi] where we are reminded that “our thoughts and words can impact our state and those around us.” Herman’s book explains how we can change our brain state to attain the desired results with this “alter ego” or “power identity” that helps us to overcome obstacles and takes us beyond where we’ve been before.
Sean Kingston used this “alter ego” idea to form a new identity or self-belief, that drove him forward, and I could only guess that this repeated practice could possibly strengthen the frontostriatal pathway in his brain leading him to long-term self-esteem, which he needed for his success in the music industry.
It’s powerful when we can connect brain science to our life, leading me back to my meeting with Patti, where we chatted about how grateful we were to have been mentored by someone who changed our results over the years. It wasn’t just Bob who changed our results, but all of the people we met along the way as we worked towards our goals. We vowed that we would continue his legacy through our work, which led me to write this episode.
How to Develop an Unwavering Self-Belief and Then Instill it in Others?
Keep Studying: Awareness is the key. If I was to ask you “What do YOU really want” would you be able to tell me in detail, or would you hesitate like I did when I was first asked that question. If you aren’t sure yet, keep learning and you will discover this pathway with time based on your talents, skills, and abilities.
Read and Write Your Goals Out Daily: There is a power and magic to the clarity that comes from this activity. I can’t say this enough, that this is where the magic happens. In addition to this, I had an affirmation that was created for me to help me to overcome my biggest doubts and fears and has been the most powerful tool I’ve used to overcome self-doubts. When I was affirmation was first given to me, I couldn’t even read it, let alone read it out loud. With time, the belief came, until it became my identity and I’m shocked that there was a time I didn’t believe this.
Know Your Fears! They will show up in your results whether you like it or not, so it’s easiest to get them out of the way. Do what Proctor had me do and write out everything you are afraid of. Looking back at my list, I remember being afraid to ask him questions, or to ask him if I could speak on stage at times during the seminar. Can you imagine if I never overcame those fears? There’s no way I’d be able to do what I’m doing without acknowledging and then overcoming what I was afraid of. We all have fears, when we first begin.
Expect Your Win: Whatever it is you are working on; you will meet with success when you are prepared for the outcome. Do the work, with consistency, and the win will be the outcome of this effort.
What’s Your Legacy? How will you make a difference in the world? Once you have achieved your win, it’s up to you to replicate your win in others. This I believe is our duty, and why many of us choose the teaching/coaching profession. This brings me back to my meeting with Patti, where she gave me the coffee mug reminding me to “Live Like Bob” with a card with all the ways I can do this. I’m grateful for this reminder from Patti to “live” ALL of these in my lifetime and encourage others to do the same in theirs.
Here's the affirmation that was created for me that has been on my bookshelf since 2001. This affirmation helped me to create a new identity.
To close out this episode, I want to thank Patti for inspiring me to write this episode and for the years of friendship.
I’ll leave you with these questions:
Who do you want to live like?
What legacy do you want to leave?
Do you BELIEVE you’ll achieve it?
I’ll close this episode with the same quote I closed out our final episode of our Think and Grow Rich book study.
“What story do you want to tell? What scenes do you want to shoot? How do you want the movie to end? Be the director of your life.” --Bob Proctor
Whatever it is you are going after, you’ll do it when you believe it.