In The News

How to have a positive mindset with Bear Grylls and Leah Williamson

Published: 6th April 2023

What an exciting few weeks we’ve had here at First News! This week we interviewed the adventurer Bear Grylls and last week, footballer Leah Williamson.

They’ve written inspiring books about never giving up and finding your strength.

Here’s what they had to say!

Leah Williamson

Leah Cathrine Williamson OBE is an English professional footballer who plays for Women’s Super League club Arsenal and captains the England women’s national team.

The subtitle of the book is Find Your Strength And Believe You Can; have you always had belief in yourself, as a person and a footballer?

“No, I think to get to the stage that I’m at and to be a professional footballer, you have to have a certain level of belief. But I think it’s a real learning process. I’m still learning now.”

Do you think anyone can become a leader or do you need some natural leadership ability to begin with?

“I think it is a natural thing. People would say to me when I was younger that I had those leadership qualities. I think anyone can be a leader if they want to be, it’s just whether you want to or not. There are roles for everybody. We want to have a team of leaders and you want to have loads of leaders in your life, but some people just aren’t for that role and don’t want it either.”

Society can judge women more harshly than men, but do you feel like that’s changing?

“I hope so. I spoke at the press conference the night before the final, and I also speak about it in the book, but what we did went beyond football. That’s a really lovely thought, that a girl walks out into society with her shoulders pushed a little bit further back and head held a little bit higher. The more we make it normal that women are being successful, the more we can continue to push and get the same things as men.”

What message would you give our readers about believing in themselves?

“I think ultimately what you have to remember is that you can never be reliant on someone else to give you that. You have to find the confidence and that self-belief within you, because that’s the only thing you can control. If you look hard enough at yourself, as soon as you look at your own behaviours and what you’re really proud of, then there will be loads of things that you’ll find. We’re not very good at that in English culture, so I’d say to kids to break that rhythm and do whatever you love to a point that you can be proud of yourself for it.”

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls OBE has become one of the world’s most recognised faces of survival and outdoor adventure. Bear spent time as a soldier in the SAS, honing his survival skills.

How do you think you would feel if you were a child growing up today?

“I’d struggle. In fact, I did struggle. That’s why I wrote this book. There are so many obstacles and challenges for young people today – from school, to anxiety, to peer pressure, to social media. You can have 1,000 friends online but still feel desperately lonely. You vs The World speaks to all these issues, from self-worth, to dealing with bullies. Empower, empower, empower was the goal.”

How will your book help encourage children?

“You vs The World aims to put kids on the front foot and prepare them for all the obstacles that life throws at them.”

Why do young voices matter? Do you think people in power listen?

“Because young people are the leaders of tomorrow. Our role is to equip them to be bold, to be kind, to be resilient.”

How did you find your own confidence and how can children find theirs?

“My confidence comes and goes, up and down, like with everyone. That’s okay. But genuine confidence is quiet and is rooted in knowing we are loved regardless of how we do. When we know we are secure then we are less afraid to take risks and fail a little. In fact, maybe even to fail a lot. After all, the only way we reach our dreams is by falling down over and over and finding that inner strength to get back up and go again. That’s the spirit of champions.”

Can you give an example of a time in your life when you nearly gave up, but carried on and triumphed?

I failed SAS selection the first time and that was truly gutting after giving so much. But I applied again and got it second time round. That was all the sweeter. I was also so much better equipped through failing the first time.

As I often say: improvise, adapt, overcome.

What would be your message to children who have a dream but think it’s too hard to achieve?

Don’t talk yourself down – you can do it. It’s about starting with that dream and then taking small steps each day towards it. You can do it. You truly can. And, if you equip yourself with the right tools, like You vs The World, the sky will be your only limit!

Never give up…

Read the full interview in this week’s issue of First News – available in print, online or via the newsstand.

You Have The Power: Find Your Strength And Believe You Can by Leah Williamson is out now on Macmillan Children’s Books for £9.99.

You vs The World: The Bear Grylls Guide To Never Giving Up is out now, published by DK Books, priced at £12.99.

If you wish to read more insightful pieces that could be discussed with your children, visit the Talking Points section of our website.

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