Tara Rule, CEO & Founder, Tara Rule Ltd
Tara Rule is the CEO and Founder of her own International Coaching Business known as The Busy2Balanced Positive Psychology Coach. She left her successful corporate career just a few months ago so she could help busy professionals to succeed without sacrifice and she knows first-hand just how important self-belief has been on her journey. She 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?
So. I started my business journey at 18. I was adamant that I didn’t want to go to university, and all I wanted to do was to work in London. I made that dream come true and started as an office junior in London. That seems such a long time ago, but when I look back now, I love how I knew what I wanted and went for it – and I’ve not really changed much from that 18 year old girl. I went to night school for three years and became a qualified ACCA accountant and after growing my career in Finance, I moved into Marketing and then Sales.
One thing that I’ve always consistently done through my career is to stretch outside my comfort zone and say ‘yes’ to things that scared me, but I knew I’d grow from.
I’ve spent the last 18 years in the fast-paced world of Technology, growing my career and rising through the ranks at Adobe and Virgin Media O2, with the last few years in Sales Leadership and becoming a Senior Director, heading up Global Business Operations at Adobe.
But, for a long time, I’ve known that helping people is what I love! I call it my sticky toffee pudding! The thing I always have room for even when I’m full! Despite being up to my eyes in deadlines and back-to-back meetings, I’ve always had room to help people. Just like I always have room for a sticky toffee pudding if when I'm out for dinner!
So, I became a qualified Professional Coach at Henley Business School and more recently a Positive Psychology Coach through PPCA. I set my coaching business up two years ago and worked on my confidence, mindset and self-belief to be in the fortunate position I am now, where I’m in my dream job running my own company full time. Well, I decided as I’m my own boss I’d only work 4 days a week so it’s not completely full time!
What role has self-belief played in your journey as a business leader? How has it influenced your decision-making and overall success?
Self-belief has played a huge role for me. And it started at such a young age without me even knowing about it. When I was just 12 years old, I had to do a school entry exam, all my friends passed but I didn’t. When I look back rationally, I know that it meant that I went to a school that was the best fit for me. But, without me knowing it, I formed a belief that I wasn’t good enough. I only actually realised I had this belief a few years ago through being coached. Now, don’t get me wrong, it definitely helped me have a successful career because I went the extra mile, I was driven and worked hard. However, it also meant that I had the fear! Choosing to leave corporate and start my own business would have been so much harder if I was stuck in the fear. It might have stopped me from doing it all together in fact. So, I really worked on my self-belief and now I know that I am enough and I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
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?
Ha ha, I’m thinking back to my first ever big presentation. I definitely had the fear then! But my boss supported me and I choose to step out of my comfort zone despite the fear. Picture this, I’m stood on stage, 80 people are watching me, I have a full-blown script as this is the only way I can get through it, my voice is shaking through the microphone, my legs are shaking and honestly it was awful! But you know what, I didn’t die, I didn’t get fired and it didn’t mean I wasn’t good enough. It just meant that I had to practice more. So that’s what I did. I said yes, again and again to doing these kinds of presentations, I asked a question anytime there was a microphone at big events with Q&A so I’d get used my voice on a microphone and I didn’t let the fear and lack of self-belief stop me. And now, fast forward 10 years and one of the things I love most is being in front of an audience delivering masterclasses and workshops.
How do you cultivate and maintain a mindset of self-belief amidst the inevitable ups and downs of life?
I think this is where positive psychology really comes in for me. The truth is that no one can be happy, confident and positive all the time, but research shows that we need three positive emotions for every negative emotion we experience. It’s not about cutting out all negativity but having the resilience to bounce back quickly. Now we can either wait for something bad to happen and then stop and think of three ways to boost our positive emotions, or we can embed them into our every day life so they become habits. For me, it’s waking my 12 year old up in the morning and both saying what we’re grateful for, it’s listening to music that boosts my energy, lighting a candle, knowing what my strengths are and using them every day and deciding how I want to show up for each meeting I have.
Are there any specific strategies or practices you follow to boost your self-confidence when facing uncertainties or setbacks in your business?
So, on top of those daily habits, I think the other big one is to remember to listen to my inner cheerleader instead of my inner critic. What I mean by that is, we all have that inner voice in our head, saying I’m not good enough, I have to be perfect, I’m going to fail etc... But that inner voice, our inner critic has just one job and that’s to keep us safe. When we know that, we can say thank you for trying to keep me safe and now choose to listen to our inner cheerleader instead. She’s saying things like; I am good smart, I am strong, I am successful, I am enough. Digging deep and creating positive affirmations like this are key so I can remind myself when I face any uncertainty or setback.
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?
Personally, I think it’s so important to tune in and listen to that negative self-talk rather than just put it in a box! If we don’t then those negative thoughts are happening anyway, just in our subconscious, which then drives our actions without us really knowing why. Once we voice that negative self-talk, we get to choose whether we let it control us, or if we choose to believe something different. I love talking to my coach about what I’m really scared about, and it’s funny because as I start saying it out loud, I start challenging it. But voicing it is the first step.
But my biggest tip would be, talk to yourself as you’d talk to your best friend. I’d never tell my best friend she’s not an entrepreneur or she’s not good enough, so why do I think it’s ok to say that to 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?
Funnily enough, only 2 years ago, when people said I was a great coach and asked if I’d ever leave to do it full time, I’d say ‘I’m not an entrepreneur, but maybe I’ll have earnt enough money to leave corporate and do a bit of coaching!’ I would actually say I’m not an entrepreneur! But once I heard what I was saying, I saw it was just fear talking. My friend shared an article with me about entrepreneurial qualities, and I realised I had lots of entrepreneurial qualities, so that really shifted my confidence, once I set up my business I started saying ‘I am an entrepreneur’ and now I can say confidently ‘I am a successful entrepreneur’ but key is just taking it back to basics. What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? What are your strengths? And how can you use them so your self-belief increases?
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?
So, leaving corporate life to run my own business is obviously a big step, and I’ve had so many people say to me ‘you’re so brave’. But, I don’t actually believe it’s brave to spend time doing what you love every day. What I have realised is that it’s other people’s own fears that they’re unconsciously showing me. My job isn’t to convince them that I’m not brave or panic that what I’m doing is scary. My job is to stay centred and keep believing in myself.
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?
Ooh, I love a good book. I think a huge step towards confidence is understanding how your brain works, so I’d recommend ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by prof Steve Peters. ‘The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women’ by Valerie Young is also amazing, it introduced me to the phrase imposter syndrome and I resonated with so much of it. Plus, I’d say watch this space as I know I’m going to publish a couple of books in the future!
Finally, what are some practical tips or exercises you can recommend for entrepreneurs to strengthen their self-belief and mindset on a regular basis?
I have a 5-step strategy to Catapult Your Confidence and I think it really applies here…
1.Know what you’re good at
2.Do what you’re good at
3.Have a vision
4.Set some goals you want to give 10/10 to
5.Believe and have hope
I’d recommend having ‘I am statements’ that you really believe in. For me they are; I am a successful entrepreneur, I am enough, I am positively impacting tens of thousands of people… Having affirmations like these really help to plant positive beliefs into your subconscious.