Personal Growth Series: 1 of 5

This series of articles tells my story.  I’ll share with you some of my earlier experiences, my failures, my wins and how I got started with personal growth.  I’ll share with you what worked and what didn’t work and the lessons I learned along the way.

1977, Born in Sudbury

I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.  I’m proud to be Canadian.  Hockey, beer and real North American winters.  Yup, it’s the life.  I’m 31 years old as of this writing.  Yes – it’s true!  I’m not 25 years old, like most people think, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t :-)

Here’s a little pick of me just starting out.  My mom even put my hair into a spike.  My hair style hasn’t changed much.  Trisha says I look determined in that picture, like I’m on some sort of mission or something.  I’m not so sure what to think of it.

Sudbury was a great place to grow up.  It is a small community of about 100,000 people located a four hour drive north of Toronto.  Sudbury is a hockey and mining town for the most part.  Mining is driven by INCO, the local mining company.

Mental Programming Growing Up

When you grow up in Sudbury, there is some mental programming just like any small community.  You’ve got to remember that everything revolves around mining.  It’s what keeps the local economy alive and well.

When I was a little guy, it was common to hear people say “If you get a job with INCO, you’re set for life.  You’ll get a great pension and they’ll take care of you.”  After a while, you start to believe what people tell you.  You think it’s the truth.

Oddly enough, it’s not being said as much today.  Latest news is that INCO is planning to lay off 500 employees next month.  I think a few people are reworking their definition of job security.  I talk about this in The Big Lie About Money.

When I was young my dad wanted me to work for INCO.  He saw job security and a life-long career.  He had the best intentions for me, but I had other plans.  More on this later.

1982, False Beliefs Adopted in Kindergarten

When I was growing up, I was really curious about life. I loved to experiment and explore. Here’s a picture of me with my wheel burrow.

When I was in kindergarten we used to be taught in this huge classroom.  The back of the class had a kitchen and a play area.

One morning I decided to explore the back of the class while others were playing outside. I was poking around in the kitchen.  This pink stuff caught my eye.  It looked and smelled like candy so I reached up for it. Once I got my hands on it I sampled a taste.  I couldn’t resist!

Immediately, I knew there was something wrong.  The pink stuff did not taste like candy after all.  It tasted like sand paper!

Minutes later my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mantha came to the kitchen.  She began screaming at me, “Oh my God! What in the world did you eat? We need to get you to the hospital right now!”

I knew at that moment that something was definitely wrong.

Moments later my mom came by the school.  She picked me up and we drove to the hospital. Our family doctor checked me out to make sure I was ok.  Good think I have an iron stomach because I was in good health.  I checked out of the hospital and went back to school the following day.

Upon my return to school I learned something interesting.  The pink stuff I ate was a chemical that the janitorial staff would put on puke when kids got sick. It would dilute the puke smell and make it smell like bubble gum.

Emotional Trauma & Belief

The kids in my class told me this and I felt embarrassed.  It was painful for me. I felt like an idiot.  “How the heck could do something so stupid?”  I thought to myself. “I’m an idiot and I’m stupid.”

The damage was done.  I officially installed a new belief: I’m stupid.

At the time I was only 6 years old, so fragile and innocent.  I didn’t know any better.  I really thought I was stupid for having done that.  I thought I was telling myself the truth.

And that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life.  What you tell yourself is never true.  It’s whatever you make it mean.  It either empowers or dis-empowers you.  You can tell yourself just about anything.  Just pick something that empowers you, instead of something that puts you down.

Impact of this False Belief

You see, for the better part of my life I really did believe that I was stupid.  I wouldn’t admit it consciously, but deep down in the depths of my mind I really thought this to be true.  And when you believe something like I did, you immediately want to resist it.

You want to prove that it isn’t true.  And that’s exactly what I did.

Even when I was young, I would try harder to ‘look smart.’  I would do smart things so that people would acknowledge me as someone who was smart.  I would study hard to get good grades so that I could be smarter.

The real truth of it is – I didn’t want others to believe I was stupid.  I didn’t want people to know my secret so I covered it up.

It’s sort of like eating a crappy burger.  You know the burger is crap, but you dress it up with fancy tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and even add ketchup and mustard.  Then you take a bite of the burger and it still takes like crap.

This is similar to any powerful false belief.  It runs you even though you don’t know why and you keep looking outwards for solutions to your problems.  Once you realize that this belief is the problem you can get rid of the crap.  And getting rid of the crap will lead to true fulfillment and inner peace.

The whole idea here is to avoid resistance to your false beliefs.  Why?  Because what you resist, persists.

How do you know if you share this belief?

It’s easier to point this belief out in others than it is to recognize it in yourself.

Here’s an example that might help.  Let’s pretend that you’re in a conversation with a friend of yours.  And this friend is trying really hard to make a point.  They spending so much time trying to explain why their point of view is the ‘right one.’  Do you see what I’m talking about here?

If someone is trying to prove that they are ‘right’ and you are ‘wrong,’ this is a clue.  It’s a clue that they’re not really interested in what works versus what doesn’t work.  They’re more interested in being right and having the right answers.

And they want be right because when they’re right, it means they’re smart.  And if they’re smart, then they can’t be stupid, right?

Wrong.  Like I said, for a great number of people this belief is unconscious.  You don’t even know it’s there.  It’s just being covered up, but it’s still there.

How do you find out if you share this belief?

4 Steps to Uncover the “I’m Stupid” Belief

  1. You’re having a conversation with someone who is “always right”
  2. Be the listener in the conversation
  3. Quietly ask yourself: “Does this person bother me or am I ok with it?”
  4. If you’re ok, then you’re clear.  If it seriously spins you into rage and you get upset, then you’ve got the belief.

The time to recognize this belief is when you’re in a conversation.  When you’re in a conversation with one of those people who is always right, just listen to them.  Just be the listener and ask yourself this question:

“Does this bother me or am I ok with it?”

If the righteousness bothers you, then you’ve got the belief in yourself.  This person is an exact mirror of you.  What you dislike in others is what your dislike about yourself.

If it doesn’t bother you, then you’re clear.  It’s not one of your beliefs so consider yourself lucky.

What to do if you share this belief?

If this is a belief that you share, then you’re in good hands.  Why do I say that?  Because you now know it’s a belief you have so you can do something about it.  It’s not permanent.  This is a great thing to know because now you don’t have to let it control you.  You can do something about it.  This is the first and most important step.

Here is the next article in the series: Personal Growth Series: 2 of 5


Formerly, Mr Right.


  • Leslie

    Reply Reply December 21, 2008

    Man, I know that issue very well. I’m a science and math teacher at a high school and there are so many kids that have that “I am Stupid” belief. It is VERY common.

    Unfortunately, the way the school system is set up, it sometimes promotes the propagation of the “I am stupid” belief. The grading system makes those that get D’s and F’s feel stupid, while not doing much to encourage them and help them to figure out what they are “smart” in. That’s one of the big challenges in the education field.

    Looking forward to the other 4 parts of this series :)

  • Steve

    Reply Reply December 21, 2008

    I agree – it’s such a bad system, but that’s why people like us are here to change it ;)

    Good to hear from you Leslie,

  • Drezz

    Reply Reply December 22, 2008

    Steve and I grew up together and were in the same class. Although I don’t remember the details of that particular incident, I do remember he was rushed out because he did something wrong.

    Now I dont know if it was the kids, or the adults who instilled that sense of “stupid” in him, but I do know that experiences you have when you’re young, along with advice you’re given can often shape your way of thinking. And its not a good thing.

    I can relate to the message. My dad worked at INCO, wanted me to join their workforce and had the same mind set – work hard and work at a job that will make you good money.

    I don’t do anything remotely close to working for INCO, and I don’t work nearly as hard – but I get paid relatively the same, ad I work smarter. Mainly because I figured out what I wanted and needed and made my job more for personal enjoyment than for the sole purpose of earning a paycheck.

  • Steve

    Reply Reply December 22, 2008

    Hey Drezz,

    Nope, nobody else installed the “I’m stupid” idea in my head. It was all me!

    Good thing I kicked that belief to the curb.

    I’m surprised that you remember as far back as kindergarten :)

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