Helen Walker is a Sales & Mindset Coach of York Walker and understands the role that self belief has played in their business journey so far. They took some time out to speak with The Industry Leaders about this powerful state of mind.
Firstly, can you give us a little bit of background about your business journey?
I fell into my corporate career after university and 18 months travelling, up to my eye balls in student debt, I took a sales role. The promise of big commissions and paying off my student loan were mighty appealing. I spent 10 years in a career that didn't light me up, trapped by the salary handcuffs and a lack of self-belief. I truly believed that if I left, I would have to take a massive pay cut and start again. I had no idea how many transferable skills I had or how important what I knew would be to others. Having had one too many managers who used me as a verbal punch bag, I decided enough was enough. By this time, I was on medication for depression and my self-belief was non-existent. I just knew that I couldn't face another day in that office. So I took the plunge into the world of self-employment. That was 10 years ago, this June. My 10 years has been a journey of transformation. From career coach to empowering women to start their own businesses and teaching them how to sell. It's kind of ironic, that even though my lack of self-belief and depression plagued my life for so long, I now teach other women how to believe in themselves. It's the key ingredient for success in my experience. I discovered that I was really good at breaking down sales and making it really easy to learn. Not knowing how to sell is something that stops most women in business from ever realising their full potential. So together with my sales know how and my experience of transforming my own self-belief, I decided that I'd finally found my calling. To help other women create profitable businesses so that they could create an extraordinary life for themselves and their families. I've never looked back!
What role has self-belief played in your journey as a business leader? How has it influenced your decision-making and overall success?
It was my lack of self-belief that has ironically made me so successful. I know what it's like not to believe in yourself and I know the impact that has on the decisions and actions you make. I know what it takes to help other women overcome a debilitating lack of self-belief. I held myself back for way too long. I didn't believe I was good enough, so I didn't go out there and shout about my offers, I hid away. I undercharged and massively over delivered. It wasn't until I reached burnout, that I decided that I had to find a different way. I started a journey of self discovery. I desperately wanted to understand why I held myself back and why I didn't have the confidence I needed. That changed everything for me! It transformed my whole life, not just my business. Self-believe has been THE reason I have succeeded. I've become way more visible as a business owner, I've become recognised in my industry as the go-to-expert, simply because I believed in what I had to offer and my ability to help people. I adopt Richard Branson's motto "Screw it, let's do it" because I know that even if something fails, I have the belief in myself to know I will eventually make it work. I would have never have said yes to the opportunities that I have been presented with, without that unwavering level of self-belief.
Can you share a specific moment or challenge in your journey where your self-belief was tested? How did you overcome it and what did you learn from that experience?
I had kids. My son came along 5 years ago. At first I didn't believe I could have it all. Could I be a good mum and run a successful business? For a while I gave up on my business, not believing that I had what it took, becoming a mum took its toll. For a while, I lost who I was. Was I good enough to build the type of success I really wanted? I had massive doubts and impostor syndrome crept in! But this calling of helping others niggled away at me, I was my passion and something I knew I had to do. I discovered that the biggest of our doubts can be overcome with the right thinking! I knew I now had someone who was not only financially dependent on me, but who would also, one day look to me as a role model. I also knew, from all the research on self-belief, that however I viewed myself, then chances were, that's how my kids would view themselves. That realisation broke my heart. Imagine if my own thoughts about myself, rubbed off on this tiny human. I couldn't stand the fact that he would think he was worthless, not up to the job or not as good as everyone else. That changed things for me. I realised that I had to work on changing the story I told myself. I couldn't allow past experiences and mistakes to define me anymore. So I started living as the person I wanted to be. Confident, adventurous, self-loving! Eventually, I became that person. It wasn't easy, but it was so worth it. Life is amazing now. I am a big advocate, that if life isn't how you want it to be, you have to first look at how you view yourself, then work on building your self-belief. It changes everything It taught me, that anything is possible. It all depends on how you think!
How do you cultivate and maintain a mindset of self-belief amidst the inevitable ups and downs of life?
I work on it every single day. I know the strategies that work. I have transformed my life, and the lives of my clients with the simple, daily tools. I have realised that I have to now focus on my mindset and always be building my self-belief. If I didn't, it would be easy for those unhelpful beliefs to creep back in and send me spiralling back into the depth of the black hole of depression. It's simple acceptance, that life throws us curve balls from time to time and it's how I react to those that really count. If I can keep getting up, thanks to a positive mindset, that's what truly makes me successful. I remind myself daily of the impact that I have had on so many of my clients lives. It reminds me that I know my stuff and that self-doubt is just interference from my mind. Plus, as my self-belief grows, so do my goals. So it's important for me to always be working on how I view myself, the story I tell myself and the love I hold for me.
Are there any specific strategies or practices you follow to boost your self-confidence when facing uncertainties or setbacks in your business?
I always acknowledge that unhelpful inner critic. Trying to silence it, without hearing it, creates a ticking time bomb that's waiting to go off. Normally at the wrong time, when you really need all the self-belief you can muster. Our minds need to express the unhelpful worries that we all have. Otherwise that emotion explodes out of us. I listen, but I don't engage with it. I don't buy into it, because I know, it's what I call "Faulty wiring" a set of beliefs that subconsciously have made their way into my mind. That voice is loud, but it's not the truth. So I allow it to voice itself Then I focus on the person I want to be I visualise the successful, confident, happy go lucky me That puts a new blue print into my conscious mind and overtime, I can rewrite some of those unhelpful subconscious, automatically beliefs and create new, positive ways of thinking. It sounds incredibly simple and it is. But it takes consistent, daily practice to master it. It's transformed my life.
How do you handle self-doubt or negative self-talk that may arise as a business leader? Do you have any specific techniques for reframing negative thoughts?
I tell my clients, and myself, that the good news is, your self-doubt isn't going to go away completely. It's good news, because now we can all stop fighting with it and accept that it perfectly normal to doubt ourselves. It's how we're wired and it's part of our survival system. Every time I launch a new programme, raise my prices or push myself towards a new goal, that negative self-talk comes right back. But I have to remember that this voice is out of date, it's not me and it's not true. I focus on the person I want to me, visualise how the real me would react, think, respond. I feel the emotions of that new, more confident me and that completely changes my energy. I show up as the person I want to be. I believe in myself!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who struggle with self-belief? How can they start building a stronger sense of confidence and belief in themselves?
Before you learn anything about business, work on your self-esteem and build up your self-belief. Listen to that inner critic and become aware of what it's telling you, without buying into it. Seek help if you need it, most of us do, because those beliefs we hold are so loud and powerful, they feel completely true. Work on changing that inner story about yourself into one that's more positive and self-serving. Then do one thing each day that scares the living day lights out of you. That might be speaking on a stage, doing a live stream video, pitching for a piece of work, or simply talking about your offers to a potential client. But if it scares you, make a point of actually doing the task, rather than making excuses or procrastinating. Because if you avoid it, the problem only feels much bigger and next time you're faced with the same task, it will feel 10x scarier. Remind yourself daily, how flipping awesome you are!
Have you ever encountered external skepticism or negativity regarding your business ideas or decisions? How do you stay grounded in your self-belief despite external influences?
All the time! I remember when I first started focusing on sales and mindset, I really began to change. My personalty, values, drive and whole outlook on life changed. A lot of people noticed that and didn't like it. Suggesting that I was changing and that change wasn't good. My outlook became more positive and I quickly discovered that misery loves company. It's hard to do the inner work on yourself, so rather than change and do what's required for a better life, it's easier for people to criticise what you're doing in a bid to make themselves feel better. After discovering this, I had to allow negative people to fall away from my life, because they were holding me back. It's important to remain focused on your goal and silence this external noice.
Are there any books, podcasts, or people you'd recommend checking out for anyone who wants to change to a more self-confident and belief-rich mindset?
There's one book that changed my life, it's where I learned all the models and strategies I now teach. The Chimp Paradox, written by the genius that is Prof Steve Peters. I wish every child at school was given this book - it's life changing!
Finally, what are some practical tips or exercises you can recommend for entrepreneurs to strengthen their self-belief and mindset on a regular basis?
Focus on the person you want to be, not the person you think you are, or your environment has lead you believe you are. These external influences are powerful. It's up to us to decide who we are, how successful we are and how we view ourselves. We teach people how to treat us, so we have to treat ourselves well if we want others to do the same.