self belief

Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are absolutely right.

— Henry Ford

I saw this quote for the first time on the wall of the gym I go to for personal training. My PT, Bryan, is an amazing guy. He is young (and not bad to look at, which I why I get him to demonstrate lots of things), encouraging without being pushy or intimidating, he knows his stuff and he built his business up from scratch because he is passionate about what he does. Bryan had the belief that he could do this, and he has.

In the two (plus a bit) years I have been going to PT with Bryan, he has turned me from someone who used to say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that,’ (when faced with a physical obstacle or exercise that looked a bit hard) into a person who (usually) says, ‘I’ll give it a go.’ The times when I still say, ‘I can’t’, he always says, ‘Yes you can,’ and there is no arguing to be had.

During this time I have lifted weights and boxed (with a bag, not on a person) — two things I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing before. Currently I am learning how to do a one-armed push up — purely for bragging rights.

The thing is, I have realised that if I tell myself I can’t, then I won’t — but if I tell myself I can, then eventually I will. It also helps to have Bryan standing next to me.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The other thing I have recently started doing is Dragon Boating. (I know I have written about this before, and I’m sorry if you are sick of it, but I’m not.)

Never in a million years did I think I would be out on the water paddling — and not just paddling for fun, or socially, but in competitions.

Just before our first regatta (some time in September last year and after I’d only been paddling for a few months) I asked a team-mate if I should put my name down to compete. She looked at me like I had rocks in my head and said something along the lines of  Are you crazy? Of course you should. This is why we train! 

I was worried that I couldn’t. I thought I’d let the team down. But after some reassurance, which was rather forceful, I put my name down and on the day I discovered I could.

A similar thing happened a few regattas later when my name appeared on the crew list for the 2km race. 2 kilometres!! That’s a long way in a dragon boat. Immediately I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I’m not going to be able to make it. I’ll be a lay down Sally.’ I desperately wanted to make up an excuse as to why I couldn’t participate.

Again, some serious pep-talking happened. I felt like I was going to vomit as we went to marshalling. I’m sure my fear was written all over my face. Once we got in the boat, though, I thought, ‘I can’t get out of this now. I know I can do this. We’ve done it in training.’

And I did!

And I didn’t die at the end of it.

And the feeling was amazing!

(And I don’t ever want to do it again … but I will, because I know I can.)

Finally, our team participated in the Chinese New Year Dragon Boating Regatta in Sydney on the weekend. Just getting in to this competition was a coup. I read somewhere that there were 3000 competitors. Teams came from everywhere. Good teams. Strong teams.

The Diamond Phoenix crew at the end of our first heat. That’s my daughter out the front with the drum. (Photo: Leanne Wilks)

Well, we went in with a can-do attitude. Our coaches told us to give it everything … and we did. We came second in our heat. Then Heat 2 was cancelled (owing to heat … ha-ha). Places in the finals were going to be decided by the times in Heat 1. Did we have a chance?

Absolutely – not just a chance either. We rocked it in.

We came second in our division.


A little team from Canberra who just happen to have amazing coaches and an amazing, strong, supportive crew.

I am so privileged to belong to this team.

As with my PT, the team has allowed me to develop my I can belief. This attitude is more important than anything.

The brilliant Diamond Phoenix crew who said WE CAN, paddled and came second at the 2017 Chinese New Year Dragon Boating Regatta. Love these guys. (Photo: Michael Robertson)

One thought on “self belief

  1. Self Belief!!! How important it is to have strong self belief in coping with life’s challenges!! Loved reading your article about dragonboat racing. Our eldest son, enjoyed the dragonboat experience immensely in his final years at high school, not before listening to lots of words of encouragement by friends to take up the sport. Due to his 40% hearing loss Paul was very reticent in becoming part of a team after disastrous experiences in the other ‘usual’ team sports such as soccer etc.
    As a recent United States President often said, ‘Yes we can!’ Kellie, you can honestly say, ‘Yes, I can’ and ‘Yes, I did’.
    I am also reminded of the quote:
    All things are difficult, before they are easy.
    Keep writing, Kellie! You have wonderful self belief!!


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