When she was 18, Kim Gravel read a book she credits with changing her entire mindset: The Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol. Decades later, and with a wide range of business and life experiences to draw upon, Gravel’s first book is out this month—one she says could be a “beautiful companion” to the classic guide that first inspired her.
In Collecting Confidence, Gravel shares lessons she’s learned from her public successes—including building an empire that spans hosting several QVC shows and episodes as well as a podcast, launching beauty businesses and mentoring young women—and private failures or challenges. More than anything, however, she wants readers to come away feeling empowered.
“Don’t look at your life as a basket full of mistakes or a basket full of hardships, look at your life as just this plentiful harvest of opportunity,” Gravel says. “I promise you, if you shift the way you look at it, everything in your life will shift.”
We talked with Gravel about why finding your calling is so important, and how it can help you find contentment and fulfillment that’s bigger than any other measure of success.
Why did you decide to write this book, and why now?
Kim Gravel: This book has been in the making for quite some time, but I think the time is now because—I’ve seen, heard and what I’m doing in business and what I do when I train young girls—it seems people are having this crisis of confidence. Do we have what it takes, are we confident enough to move in what we’re called to do?
I just thought that the timing was right for this book. It’s basically about my journey and how I’ve had to navigate the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys, and how all of that experience has led to this unwavering confidence. Now when I say unwavering, I’m always confident but it does wax and wane, it goes up and down depending on what you’re going through. And it’s just a different philosophy on how to be confident in today’s world.
Did you have confidence at a younger age?
KG: I think we’re born into confidence and I think what happens is circumstances, the world, mistakes rob us of that as we live out our lives. If you think back to when you were younger, you had this fearless confidence. You didn’t know not to really believe in yourself, you didn’t know not to look in the mirror and love what you see, you had to learn how to doubt yourself.
You were born with fearlessness, with fearless confidence. And then as you live on, life chips away at it. We all have it, we lose it, and so this book talks about how you go about through your life collecting it back again.
On your website, you say about yourself ‘what’s most important is not what she’s doing but who she’s being’. What do you mean?
KG: We mistake our “do” with who we are.
Who you are as a person is what you lead with, not what you do or what you’ve done. But it’s who you are. And I think that’s the big get for all of us. I think we’re born into this life, always trying to figure out who we are and why we’re here.
Is this book an autobiography?
KG: It’s basically my life stories but it’s all with that reader in mind. Meaning, you get the takeaway from it.
It’s perspective for me. I don’t look at messes and mistakes as problematic. I look at it as something to lean into, to actually learn from, and those messes become your message. So it’s all on how you look at your life. Nothing was a mistake and nothing was by happenstance or chance. It’s all for a reason and it’s building this confidence in this calling in your own personal life to live out what you were born to do.
We really are made for something. We have value to add and we forget that in the business of life and the mistakes of life. But all of that adds up to that purpose.
You’re a multihyphenate—entrepreneur, television personality, author, podcaster, life coach and a former Miss Georgia. How do you blend all of those titles with being who you are called to be?
KG: We’re all very distracted by what we do. When I say it’s who you are and not what you do, everyone has a calling in their lives. So everyone starts with that foundational calling. My particular calling is edification or the building up of things—so I can do that in business, I can build businesses, I can build people, I can build communities.
I can build, that’s what I do, that’s what I love, that’s who I am. I’m a builder, I’m an edifier. As long as I’m moving out of that edification calling, I have this supernatural, energized, abounding abundance of energy to do those things.
My main focus is to find out what that calling is. When you move out of that place, then you can do a lot of different things and do it with ease. Now, I’m not saying there won’t be obstacles and it won’t be hard work, but it’s a little bit more effortless because it rejuvenates you, it energizes you.
True confidence comes from knowing who you are, and why you’re here.
Do you think some people are nervous to answer that question about what their calling is?
KG: I do.
We’re so conditioned to look at everyone else and think everything else is outside of ourselves. And I think that’s so true with our purpose, I think we’re actually afraid to know what that really is because it’s not maybe what our parents wanted for us.
We’re afraid to fall into what that purpose is because we might let our friends, family, parents down. We’re also afraid to do it because when we know what it is, we’ve got no more excuses to use to not be about it.
But when you take a taste of it and you see how good it is to live from that place? It’s the best feeling ever.
How does the book align with your other work? Is it part of a broader mission to support women in business?
KG: Truly confident people want other people to be confident. Truly successful people want other people to have success. I have found my calling in life, so I want everyone else to find theirs.
Have you had periods in your journey that were particularly difficult compared to men around you, and in what ways?
KG: I’ve been beat down more than a yard dog, that’s what we say in the South.
I have been rejected. I have been flat-out insulted. I have been sued frivolously. I have had people tell me I wasn’t skinny enough. I’ve had people tell me I wasn’t feminine enough. You name it, I have been through the trials and tribulations. I’ve been divorced. I’ve had a near-death experience.
Sometimes I handled it right, most of the time not. Most of the time I was just a big ol’ F-O-O-L, big ol’ fool in it all, but every bit of it, I would do it again. I would do it differently, I do have some regrets, some of the things I’ve done in my life, but I will tell you everything has been used to fulfill my life’s purpose.
Those bad things can work together for your good if you will allow it. And that sounds cheesy and easy and maybe that sounds trite to some people, but all I can tell you is I’ve lived and I am nothing special from that retrospect.
What I do know is what I’m called to do and nobody can take that from you.
What are things you’ve discovered, seen or heard along your journey that have encouraged you in business and that you’d like to pass along to other women?
KG: I’m a girl’s girl, so I always say help your fellow woman.
People say find your tribe, but a lot of times when you just find a tribe, they’re all alike. I’m going to say find a whole, big ol’ universe full of women that knows what they do and do what they do well and partner with them. That’s the beautiful thing about women—women get together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
Go find you some women that love what they do and do what they do well and partner up, because it will change your communities—it will change our world.
Photo by Sylvia Lee Photography
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