“No one will believe in you unless you do.” –Dr. Ivan Joseph

Dr. Ivan Joseph is a sports psychologist and Director of Athletics at Ryerson University in Canada. But earlier in his career when Ivan coached the soccer team at Graceland University in Iowa, the critical asset he sought in incoming players was confidence. He defines confidence as “the ability or the belief in yourself to accomplish any task no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty, no matter the adversity.” It was the most important skill as a player “because without that skill we are useless as a soccer player because when you lose sight of belief in yourself we’re done for,” Joseph asserts. While some people believe that individuals are simply born with or without bold and assured personalities, Joseph insists that confidence can be trained. Here are five ways he believes anyone can build a winning mentality.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Patiently and consistently practicing what you want to excel in is key. Joseph insists, “The problem is we expect to be self-confident, but we can’t be unless the skill or the task we’re doing is not novel–is not new to us. We want to be in the situation where we’ve had so much pressure…–because pressure builds diamonds–we want to be in the situation where, ‘Hey, I’ve done this a thousand times…” It’s crucial to overcome the human tendency to avoid tasks that we believe we’re failing at. He states, “Practice, practice, practice. And do not accept failure.”


Self-affirmation starts by stopping yourself when you notice you’re having a negative inner dialogue. Next, convert your thoughts and words to positive ones that acknowledge the full credit you deserve. Because our thoughts affect our actions, he likes to repeat the following manta: “I am the captain of my ship and the master of my fate.” For Joseph believes, “If I don’t say it, if I don’t believe it, no one else will.”

Get away from the people who tear you down

If someone brings you down, it can trigger your own negative thoughts. “There’s enough people that are telling us that we can’t do it; that we’re not good enough. Why do we want to tell ourselves that?” Joseph asks. Avoid negative energy all you can, and instead find supportive friendships.

Acknowledge what’s good

When people are only shown what they did wrong they tend to under perform. Similarly, they tend to thrive when they’re reminded of what they’ve done right. Knowing that we all make mistakes and we all have the potential to dwell on those errors, Joseph asserts the importance of finding ways to appreciate ourselves–especially during the most difficult times. For example, he once wrote a self-confidence letter to himself when he was in high spirits. It listed several positive aspects concerning his life and character, including the wise choices he’d made as well as his accomplishments. Joseph makes sure to pull the note out and read those words particularly when he’s going through tough times, making mistakes, or receiving criticism.

Self-confident people interpret feedback to their benefit

Joseph notes that self-confident people tend to put a positive slant on the feedback they receive. If they hear there’s a 98-percent chance they will fail at something, the self-assured interpret the percentage as a good chance of success. A two-percent opening is enough to encourage them in their efforts because it means succeeding is indeed possible. Joseph hopes everyone makes a habit of this kind of emboldened thinking.

Dr. Joseph is credited with making great advancements wherever he’s employed and with inspiring pride and spirit in others. Clearly, developing the skill of self-confidence is working for him.