New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Dr. Ivan Joseph

The Science of Self-Confidence (How to Command your Mind)

Don't settle for a lesser version of you.

Do you have difficulty believing in yourself? 

People often struggle with their self-confidence because of their past experiences. They dwell on their mistakes and the criticism that they’ve received from others. But you can overcome the negativity and grow from your mistakes if you develop a positive narrative about yourself. 

I had the pleasure of discussing self-confidence with Dr. Ivan Joseph. Dr. Ivan is an absolute master when it comes to building self-confidence. Together, we discussed a wide range of topics pertaining to self-confidence and developing positive beliefs about yourself. 

If you’re one of the countless individuals that needs help boosting their self-perception, this episode of The School of Greatness will change your life! Dr. Ivan will help you overcome your mistakes and negativity, and he will help you learn and grow from your past experiences. 

Dr. Ivan and I also talked about how developing self-confidence is not only essential for our happiness but also our productivity. Self-confidence is invaluable for achieving greatness, so you’re not going to want to miss this episode!

Who Is Dr. Ivan Joseph? 

Dr. Ivan Joseph is a self-confidence expert. He has a background in athletics with immense success coaching soccer and serving as the Director of Athletics at Ryerson University. He coached the Ryerson University soccer team to their first national championship. 

Dr. Ivan also has a Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from Graceland University. His sports background made him a master of understanding what motivates people and how they can build themselves up to optimize their performances. 

He currently serves as the Vice-Provost, Student Affairs at Dalhousie University. 

In 2012, he gave a TEDx talk at Ryerson University that’s now been viewed over 19 million times on YouTube titled, “The Skill of Self Confidence.” He also published an excellent book on self-confidence titled You Got This: Mastering the Skill of Self-Confidence. 

Dr. Ivan’s advice on building your self-confidence and self-worth will completely change your life, so let’s dive into it!

Retention vs. Mastery 

Have you ever wanted to truly master a skill? 

Dr. Ivan and I discussed that mastery takes more than merely doing the same task repeatedly. He described the process that occurs in our brains when we perform a skill over and over again:

“… what happens is we groove a motor pattern. So think of it like the Appian Way [in Rome]. … In the Appian Way, there’s these chariot grooves, and the horse can basically find its way wherever it’s going because over time, those chariots have grooved their path into that stone. And it’s very similar with the motor signal that goes from your brain to your muscles. When you’re doing something, it just becomes automatic …” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

When we repeat the same skill several times, we don’t need to think about it because our brains can do it automatically. If we want to master a skill, we need to shift away from only learning through repetition. We need to think about what we’re doing rather than let our brains do it automatically. 

“So every time it’s variable, you have to attend to that skill every single time. So there’s no latency memory. There’s no pattern that’s developed. And so you gotta really work hard at learning that new pattern. And there’s where the retention or the mastery happens. – Dr. Ivan Joseph

Dr. Ivan used pole vaulting as an example. If you’re trying to develop a particular skill within pole vaulting like planting the pole, doing it repeatedly will enable you to do it effectively without thinking about it. But if you want truly master pole vaulting, you practice the different skills that go into it — like planting the pole, springing off the top, and barrelling over it. Rather than repeatedly focusing on one particular skill, the first try you might focus on planting the pole. Then on the second try, you might focus on springing off the top. You continue mentally engaging with the activity that you’re doing by varying the skill that you’re focusing on with each attempt. 

When you work on the different skills that go into it, your brain isn’t just repeating the same pattern automatically, so you need to think about what you’re doing, and this will lead you to greater success. 

Growing From Criticism

Dr. Ivan and I dove deep into discussing how we can use criticism to grow in our skills and in our lives. But before we got into the specifics, Dr. Ivan pointed out something essential for you to understand: there’s a massive difference between negative feedback and critical feedback. Critical feedback is helpful and constructive, while negative feedback is insulting and meant to tear you down.

“The negative feedback type. … [Is like] This is why you suck. This is why it’s not happening. … The critical feedback — Here’s what’s wrong. Here’s what’s broken. Here’s what I recommend. Here’s what I suggest.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

It’s essential to know the difference so that you can discern negative feedback and use critical feedback. We can use critical feedback to reflect on how we’ve failed and how we can improve. 

“… [people] aren’t willing to engage in the reflection when the things have failed because that’s where the growth happens.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

Have you ever failed or received critical feedback, but you didn’t use it as an opportunity to improve? Maybe you messed up at your job or said something hurtful to your significant other. It’s so essential that we learn from our mistakes and failures to become better people. Otherwise, you’ll repeat the same mistakes and continue failing. 

Dr. Ivan also discussed that while we should reflect on critical feedback and our failures, it’s essential that you have someone who is building you up. We need that person in our life that reminds us that we are awesome and have done amazing things. You need to create a balance so that you build your self-confidence while also learning to improve. 

Building Unbreakable Self-Confidence

Do you need help building your self-confidence? Dr. Ivan is the guy to listen to. His expert advice will shape the way you approach believing in yourself, and it will completely change your life if you take his ideas to heart!

The first step to developing self-confidence is reminding yourself of all that you’ve accomplished. Guys, you’ve done awesome things in your life, and you NEED to remind yourself of those things so that you can handle those harder moments. Dr. Ivan recommends that we not only remind ourselves internally but also write it down:

“You’ll hear me speak about a self-confidence letter, a letter you write to yourself … You set a goal, and you accomplished it. … Whatever it is, write [it down.] And it’s your personal brag sheet to yourself. When I became an AD [athletic director], I had to read that probably, I kid you not, two weeks straight. And this isn’t about ego. This isn’t about, ‘Oh, you’re telling everybody how good you are.’ No, this is your personal brag sheet.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

You need to develop healthy, constructive beliefs about yourself to accomplish what you want. Beliefs can make or break you, and they directly affect every area of your life. If you believe that you can’t do something, then you will fail. You need solid, positive beliefs about yourself to continue pushing forward when you do face adversity and negativity.   

Dr. Ivan also discussed that sharing positivity with others will help you build your own self-esteem and happiness:

“… taking a letter and writing it to one of your friends, a gratitude letter to your friends telling them of all the things you appreciate in them … that builds your happiness and your optimism and your confidence. … the science of it says it releases dopamine, right? When dopamine comes in … I’ll say the endorphin, the happiness chemical, and the more dopamine in there, the better you feel.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

I think that’s incredible. When you lift others up, you lift yourself up too!

When we develop a happy and optimistic mindset through our confidence letters and gratitude letters, we’re also improving our productivity: 

“And not only just from feeling good and happiness, but the science also then links that to performance. … it’s related to your creativity output. … I think you’re [around] 19% more productive. Analytic problem-solving. You’re 29% quicker to solve complex problems. … [This happens] When you’re happier, when you express gratitude, when you use positive statements of affirmation to yourself. The big one [is] you increase your revenue by 36% … [According to a] Sonja Lyubomirsky 2006 Harvard study.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

Not only is building your self-confidence and lifting others up essential for your happiness, but it also directly contributes to your success!

“The tiniest step is the one that moves us toward our goal.” @DrIvanJoseph  

Listening to Your Internal Voice 

Have you ever noticed the voice inside your head telling you to do something, but it contradicted the most logical thing to do? Maybe it involved taking a job that pays less or buying a worse vehicle? 

Dr. Ivan describes this internal voice as the “heart voice.” He suggests that we listen to our “heart voice” over everything else:

“… whenever I make a decision purely logically, I always am bitter. … And then you got this little heart that’s sitting there, that little self-conscious piece that’s telling you when you know that you’re going south … There’s no science behind this, but anytime I don’t listen to that voice … when I fall off my values and my principles, I go south. And it’s cost me money, it’s cost me friendships, [and] it’s cost me opportunities.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph 

Rather than giving in to what the world says is the correct, logical decision, you need to allow your “heart voice” to be your guide because it’s driven by your values and principles. 

When we follow our values and principles, our happiness, confidence, success, and performance improvement because we’re aligning with our purpose. Our values and principles guide us to what we should be doing. 

Dr. Ivan discussed a great way in which you can clearly determine your values and principles. Think of the most important decision that you’ve made in the past 18 months, and use under seven words to describe why you made the decision that you did. For Dr. Ivan, it was taking the Vice-Provost job at Dalhousie University. The words he used to describe his decision was, “I had outgrown the job.” 

Next, Dr. Ivan suggests that you pick one word to describe your decision. For him, the word was “challenge.” Based on the words he used to describe his most significant decision in the last 18 months, Dr. Ivan determined that one of his values is challenging himself. 

What’s the most important decision that you’ve made in the last year? You can determine some of your values and principles RIGHT NOW if you implement this simple exercise! 

Pursuing Your Dreams 

Have you ever wanted to accomplish a dream that seemed too big or too challenging? You can do it if you develop positive beliefs and pursue your goals effectively.

“Everybody’s dreams … they’re just making that up. That’s why they’re dreams. And so the difference though between people who are successful or not is how they choose to pursue those dreams. So let’s just say I had a dream to become an Olympian. I always, in my mind, picture that dream on the top of a staircase. And I have these series of steps that go down, and every step represents a quantifiable, smart goal that I’m going to put on me.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph 

Following our dreams is all about determining the necessary steps and pushing forward with those steps. This breaks your long term goal down into smaller steps so that the task is no longer as daunting.

“… recognize how important it is to ladder up that step. Because if you put that big dream up there [it] becomes so overwhelming. ‘Where am I going to start? Oh my gosh.’ The tiniest step is the one that moves us towards our goal, the tiniest step.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

Once you’re following the necessary steps to accomplish your goals, you need to reject negativity and reinforce yourself with affirmations. 

Dr. Ivan discussed the importance of “centering” — which is having a trigger to center yourself psychologically and reject negative thoughts. We see this in sports all the time. Players will snap their fingers or clap their hands to return their headspace to a neutral zone. Once you’re able to get back in the neutral headspace and avoid the negativity, you use positive affirmations to build yourself up. 

“Make it automatic and recognize that it’s a skill. Get your three [affirmations.] ‘You got this. I work harder than anybody. Nobody outworks me. I can learn everything.’ And whatever it is, get it ready.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph 

You keep telling yourself affirmations so that you keep believing in yourself. You need to believe in your power to accomplish your goals in order to achieve them. 

Dr. Ivan also emphasized the importance of embracing the moments in which you accomplish something: 

“… savor the moment. … That’s a big component about happiness, and savoring means live in it, feel it, relish it, [and] embrace it. … It’s almost like when something’s happening, like pull yourself out and just watch yourself with your friends and appreciate it.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph

Does this sound like something you need to put into practice? It’s amazing to keep striving for greatness, but it’s also essential that we embrace our victories and recognize the great things that we’ve already accomplished! Celebrate the steps that you’ve already climbed so that you can continue believing in yourself.  

Why You Should Listen to this Dr. Ivan Joseph Podcast Episode Right Now…

It is incredibly essential for your success and wellbeing to believe in yourself. You will accomplish amazing things if you work on keeping yourself in a positive headspace, regardless of the adversity or negativity that others may throw your way. You can overcome it and push yourself to greatness! 

I highly encourage you to start implementing Dr. Ivan Joseph’s tools today. It’s never too late to build unshatterable self-esteem. 

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, definitely check out the podcast episode. We dove into so much more helpful material that will inspire you to believe in yourself and never give up!

Dr. Ivan’s definition of greatness is so powerful:

“I want to leave this place better than I found it. Right? And so that’s for my family, my kids, the people that have served as a coach and an educator, we leave this place better than [we] found it.” – Dr. Ivan Joseph 

Speaking with Dr. Ivan was such an enjoyable experience. His advice for building self-confidence changed my life, and it will change yours too! 

If you want to learn more from Dr. Ivan, check out his book You Got This: Mastering the Skill of Self-Confidence. You can also keep up with him on Twitter and Instagram

Friends, believe in yourself, and never stop following your dreams! In the words of Dr. Ivan, “You got this!”


To Greatness, 

Lewis Howes - Signature

Some Questions I Ask:

  • How do we master skills?
  • Is it possible to successfully coach people who have very different needs and personalities?
  • What can we do to overcome negative feedback?
  • Why do happiness and gratitude scientifically increase productivity?
  • How can we find our purpose?
  • What’s the secret to self-confidence?
  • What should I do every day to build positive routines?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How you can graduate from skill retention to mastery
  • The crucial difference between negative feedback and critical feedback
  • How to overcome the opinions of other people
  • A simple exercise to find your values and purpose
  • Why you need to follow the tiny voice in your head
  • The steps you need to take as you try to accomplish your dreams
  • How to avoid the small things that ruin people’s pursuit of greatness
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Connect with
Dr. Ivan Joseph

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:

Music Credit:

 Kaibu by Killercats

Comment below

let us know your thoughts

join thousands of
greatness subscribers
on your favorite platform