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Self Esteem vs Self Confidence with Stephanie Gabbert

George Grombacher September 7, 2023

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Self Esteem vs Self Confidence with Stephanie Gabbert

LifeBlood: We talked about self esteem vs self confidence, the important differences and similarities, how they are skills to be learned and developed, the role courage and resilience play in our development, and how to get started, with Stephanie Gabbert, CoFounder and CEO of Peak 9, an org empowering girls to become more confident through athletics.      

Listen to learn the age at which self confidence is formed!

You can learn more about Stephanie at, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Stephanie Gabbert

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Stephanie Gabbert is the co founder and CEO of peak nine, that organization empowering girls to become strong, confident women of the future through athletics and sport. Stephanie, excited to have you on welcome.

Stephanie Gabbert 0:17
Thanks, George, excited to be here.

george grombacher 0:19
Yeah. Tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Stephanie Gabbert 0:25
Sure. Absolutely. Well, thanks for having me. You know, I always like to have the opportunity to talk about peak nine and talk about some of these issues that I think are really important and becoming even more topical today, with the mental health issues we see with our kids and confidence and self esteem among girls, that’s been going down for a lot of other societal issues that are happening. So my organization’s called Peak nine, as you said, and I always like to start with, I’ve named it peak nine, because the research shows that a girl self esteem peaks at age nine. Most people are, kind of look at me sideways when I say that. But you know, in the days now of the Google, you can Google that, and a lot of articles will come up and kind of explain why that is, or some other interesting facts around that. But basically, you know, peak nine kind of evolved out of my experience, as a successful athlete, I was a soccer player college after college, basically played at some of the highest levels you can play at during that time, unfortunately, you know, there were no pro leagues, or anything like that when I was that age. And, you know, that morphed into my coaching career, which I started doing as soon as I graduated, and had the opportunity to go to high level power five schools. And also, I spent about five years coaching full time with our US national teams with the youth team. So I’ve worked with some, some of the highest level athletes, female soccer players that, you know, play in this country have played in this country. And all along that route. confidence and self esteem, were always the biggest issues holding players back. Right. So, you know, most, most athletes, most parents of athletes think, you know, once they hit certain levels, all that’s going to be sorted out, they’re going to be good to go. But honestly, it just gets more complicated, you know, as they go along that spectrum. And myself and another coaching colleague of mine spent years just having conversations about why is this happening, you know, and eventually that morphed into us, creating peak nine. And, you know, part of part of the origin story that I like to relay to people is, for myself, personally, you know, I wouldn’t put myself in the category of having confidence issues as a young person. You know, we’ve all struggled with that, of course, I had my moments, but, you know, my experience was, as a as a kid, you know, I was a single parent household, my mom with my mom and I had an older brother, and my mom was an activist, you know, she was involved in political movements and issues around empowering women back in the 70s of the kid, they didn’t have time, she couldn’t find me a babysitter. So I went, you know, so I was, I was at 910 11 years old. And in marches, you know, and in all these meetings, and around all these strong women, my entire childhood, you know, plus the women in my family, were very strong role models. And so, I didn’t know you were supposed to be any other way. You know, and my mom got me involved in sports when I was a kid, because she thought that was another great way to, you know, empower me. And so, I started realizing, probably in my late teens, and when I went to college, that not everybody had that experience, you know, and most of my friends, girls, and teammates, a lot of them had opposite experiences. So there was a need, I saw that need for how do we, how do we get this experience to other people and really went into the coaching world, because that was my way of being able to go out and empower girls, you know, working with younger girls or college players or players older. Coaching was kind of my avenue to do that. So Um, you know, when I created peak nine, that was sort of a result of, you know, all that time and coaching, and seeing what those things were and seeing how people respond in different situations. But wanting to make that impact, particularly with the younger girls, because learning those skills at those younger ages is much more impactful. And a better way to learn than when you’re 2223 24. Now trying to learn how to how do you build confidence, because I think as coaches, and I’ve done it myself, I did it for a long time. And it happens all the time. I hear it all the time. You hear coaches say to players, you just have to be more confident, you know, and that’s it. You know, it’s like, well, how do I do that? You know, there’s not enough information out there for for coaches to do that consistently. And, you know, coaches aren’t giving those tools to the players in order to build those skills.

george grombacher 6:07
Just do it.

Stephanie Gabbert 6:09
Yeah, that doesn’t work.

george grombacher 6:11
Like yeah, I’d like to bet I don’t know how I have no idea. So exactly. confidence and self esteem, are they they’re very similar. They’re the same, they’re different.

Stephanie Gabbert 6:25
They’re different, but interrelated. So you know, that debate can go on, forever and ever. But, you know, basically, self esteem is more about your value, how you value yourself. So it’s an it’s an inner thing, it’s appreciating and valuing yourself. Confidence is more about the belief in your abilities, the belief that you can accomplish something, but the key factor in the competence piece that gets skipped over is the belief that I can do something, but I believe I’ll be okay, if I don’t. So if I fail, it’s not the end of the world. And what started happening even more in the last probably five or six years, is that, particularly with girls, sort of that fatalist attitude of, if I try something and I fail, you know, it’s over, I’ll never be able to do this again, or I’ll, all my friends will disown me or my parents won’t talk to me or all the things, whatever it is, it can be the smallest thing or the biggest thing they’ve ever wanted to try. But if there’s one thing for, for younger people to learn, and probably everybody, it’s that I’ll be okay. If I don’t, is the most important part of that whole piece of that confidence building, because you can’t get better at anything unless you try new things. And when you try new things, you’re gonna fail. So there’s got to be an expectation that that’s part of the learning process. And it’s not going to devastate you, you know, forever and ever.

george grombacher 8:07
You think you’ve observed that? The specifically in this example, women have girls, there’s been an increase in that kind of fatalistic attitude.

Stephanie Gabbert 8:20
Yes. So, you know, really, social media plays the biggest part, in that there’s an increase in that perfectionist, you know, striving for the perfection, which comes through social media and the images they see. And you can be, you know, criticized and evaluated 24 hours a day now. But, you know, and everything that kids do now, is almost always shared somewhere, right? Their parents are all excited, they’re going to this tournament, and blah, blah, blah, and then, you know, they don’t have a great game, and they lose the will that shared to everyone, you know, their friends all go to some event or something, and they’re not there. Well, that’s all shared, and they didn’t get invited, and they’re not there. You know, there’s just it’s a 24th and evaluation of you, not only of what you’re doing or trying to achieve, but just who you are. And I think a lot of kids in our they’re not able to find that line between what you do, what you’re trying to do and who you are. And so they all get kind of lumped together and not everything works out great. So,

george grombacher 9:47
why would they be able to do that it’s not obvious that that that’s, it’s so it’s not it’s very obvious when you describe everything gets shared, good, bad, or ugly or whatever. And so we’re constantly doing this evaluation. So why wouldn’t I be a little bit concerned about falling on my face? Even though it really doesn’t matter?

Stephanie Gabbert 10:10
Yes, true. And it sort of goes both ways to, you know, I work with college teams, as well as younger kids and this, I worked with women, you know, this, all of the stuff that we do with peak nine is transferable across that spectrum. And the information is fine for boys as much as it is for girls, right. But, you know, with college, the unique part with the college players now is they’re connected to their coach 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by their phones, through texting, posting, you know, there’s all kinds of different communication platforms. So at any moment, as a college athlete, I can be sitting or gonna be sitting in class, taking a test and my phone beeps, and there’s a text from my coach, which I don’t want to open because I’m taking a test. But right away, I’m like, oh, you know, am I in trouble? Why does Why is Coach texting me, you know, parent contests. So it’s just this constant state of alertness that happens. And it goes the other way, too, you know, coaches are, are 24 hours a day connected to every player, and every parent of every player and every assistant coach and boss that they have, as well. So, you know, a lot of the confidence issues that come up, come up, because what’s happening in their brains, you know, what, what kids are saying to to themselves, when they are imagining what’s happening in this situation. So, you know, this constant connectivity just creates more imagination, if you’re not able to resolve it in an immediate fashion. And that self talk and the negativity is a huge influencer on girls, in particular, their lack of competence and lack of self esteem, low self esteem.

george grombacher 12:16
Thank you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody sort of summarize problems, perils of modern living and kind of what that’s doing to us. But that certainly makes sense. What? So I struggle with. And I think that we all struggle with self image. But where, where we derive that, from where, where, what’s the best source of self esteem?

Stephanie Gabbert 12:49
Oh, the best source still self esteem.

george grombacher 12:54
I guess, I kind of asked because these days, we’re, there’s a lot of celebration about just our immutable characteristics. It’s there’s body positivity, there’s, I’m a proud this or I am happy because I am this. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m just aware that it’s out there. And what I derive my value from maybe it’s just me, or the achievements that I’ve the things I’ve done, the things I’ve worked hard towards. So that’s my question.

Stephanie Gabbert 13:25
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a tough question. Because, you know, part of the issue of building competence is also understanding. Think I heard somebody say it once, it’s an evolution, not a revolution, right? You’re not going to do one thing today, and then all of a sudden, be confident, you’re gonna listen to this podcast and go, Oh, I heard how I should do it, and then be confident, it takes time. And so that time, I mean, it’s a lifetime, really, in a lot of ways. But it’s a long, it’s a long process. So it’s, it’s not enough to say, this is how I identify so now I have better self esteem that that’s not really it, you know, part of it is allowing people to live in their identities are going to be more comfortable that way. It’s going to make me more confident if people accept me for the the way I want to identify, right, that’s probably going to increase my self esteem a little bit. But self esteem and confidence are, it’s such a community. And by community, I mean, everything that’s around that person. It’s a community driven process, right? So I can work with a youth softball team, and do a lot of, you know the exercises that we do the activities that we do and help them learn how they can build their skills. In, we focus on three areas competence, courage and resilience. But if they go home, and they’re a parent, but they have a parent who kind of talks to them in the opposite way, or hurts their confidence or hurts their self esteem, they’re not going to develop those skills enough, you know, it’s the same as their parents are great, but then they go play for a coach who’s constantly cutting them down, or, you know, teachers who tell them, you know, you’re a girl, you can’t be an engineer. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen anymore. But you know, it does. So it’s really about that whole community around the girls who are developing. But there’s not really there’s not a short, easy answer to that.

george grombacher 15:52
And probably, nor nor should they be. But again, I really, I think that you, you articulated that really well, and those values of confidence, courage and resilience, that really resonates a lot with me, and making sure that we’re positioning ourselves and young people to have those reinforce so that you’re not getting different messaging from one person in particular, I’m sure. If your parents are telling you one thing, and then your coach is telling you something totally different. That’s just kind of productive, for sure.

Stephanie Gabbert 16:24
Yes, yeah. And, you know, we came up with confidence, courage and resilience, because, you know, it’s, for those folks who are athletes who have done the mental skills training, type of programs or exercises, we kind of figured out that everything falls into one of the one of those three buckets. It’s either a confidence issue, a courage issue, or resilience issue. And when we talk about competence with, with athletes or non athletes, you know, first we just talked to them about presence, you know, you have to have some kind of a good, solid, positive presence to have competence, right? You’re not going to do anything great if you’re hunched over and you know, backing away. So presence is key. And we use these different words to kind of help the kids understand stand what it looks like, you know, in an action. So, having said that courage, we talk about action, you just have to do something, right. There’s fear of failure, and all those things that happen. But you have to try and understand it’s not going to work out perfectly every time. And that might be as simple as you know, I don’t, I’m not comfortable talking to my coat or asking for things because authority figures. All right, next time you go to Starbucks, because every kid goes to Starbucks now, you know, just this tell the person behind the counter. Thank you. And I hope you have a great day, you know, so you’re, you’re taking little steps to kind of build up. So courage is action. And then resilience is about response. How are you responding to that situation? And so, once we kind of help them see those three buckets, then it’s a lot easier for them to kind of figure out where do I struggle the most? And which one? Is it all in? And now what do I have to do to start addressing that, because I think it’s so important for people to understand those three things. They’re all skills, they’re just skills, every skill can be taught, and every skill can be learned. But if you don’t teach someone a skill, they’re not going to have it unless they just try to go figure it out and find it out on their own. Sometimes they don’t know that they need that skill. So whether you’re a 12 year old girl or a 50 year old woman, you can learn those skills. If you’re intentional about about learning those and they will help you and we try to categorize what we do as it most more like emotional fitness, not necessarily mental skills training, because that has different connotations in the athletic world. But building those skills, absolutely makes you a better athlete, whether you’re a recreational youth athlete, or a college athlete, or a professional athlete, makes you a better salesperson, it makes you a better podcaster you know, it makes you better at whatever you want to do.

george grombacher 19:29
I absolutely agree and I love it. Confidence being the presence and showing up and carrying myself and courage, ability to take action in the face of whether I feel like doing it or I’m scared of doing it or I’m apprehensive and then resilience is I respond to the different circumstances that I find myself in when loser draw, so I love it. Well, Stephanie, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn More about you, how can they engage with you?

Stephanie Gabbert 20:03
Yeah, the best place to go is our website. So the website is peak nine That’s the number nine. So peak number nine That’s really the best place. There’s a lot of information on there. For anybody who’s looking for more information or the statistics around this, or who wants to engage with us and work with teams or groups, we work all over the country virtually and in person. And, yeah, you can reach out to me through there as well. And I respond to everything that comes in. So I’d love to hear from you.

george grombacher 20:45
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, show, Stephanie, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to peak, nine, pe a k, the number nine And check out all the great resources that Stephanie has been talking about. I know just how valuable it is to actually give somebody the framework or the steps to do something and instead of just saying, Just do it. So I’m really, really grateful for you sharing all of this and really breaking it down because it’s given me an enormous amount to think about also. So thank you. Awesome. All right. Thanks, George. Until next time, remember, do your part doing your best

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