Stopping by Authors & Readers Book Corner today is author Ryan Maule. Ryan is a nationally recognized and highly sought-after motivational speaker, host of the popular Expect Awesome Podcast, and the president of Integrity Doctors, the world’s largest chiropractic business organization. Over the last 15 years Ryan has traveled the world spreading the message of expecting awesome and building a stronger self-image in order to gain a God-powered confidence. Ryan is happily married to his awesome wife Amber and they live in Florida with their two awesome kids, Summer Grace and Nolan Zeal.
Let’s get to know more about his new book.
Your new children’s book, I Am Awesome!, aims to teach children about confidence and self-esteem in a Godly way. What inspired you to write a book series for children around this topic?
For the last five years, I’ve traveled the country speaking on the importance of having a God-powered confidence! I felt like I was not only talking the talk, I was walking the walk! But that was until I was blindsided by my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and counselor. At a school counseling meeting I was informed that my daughter was suffering from low self-esteem. Not only was this affecting her learning, it was impacting her ability to make friends. I quickly realized that while I was awesome at explaining confidence to adults, I was failing at communicating self-worth to my own children.
That wasn’t my only problem. I was then faced with the question of how to take an hour-long talk on self-worth and building a God-powered confidence and teach that to a six-year-old. I can barely get her to sit through a movie, let alone an hour-long class! I needed a simpler way to communicate the same message in a format that she could understand and relate to. I needed to connect with her on her level and create a story that didn’t talk down to her as an adult. She needed to see a character like her that also needed help with self-worth.
The books are beautifully illustrated. Why was it important for this to be a picture book?
Thank you! Actually, this book was never really a book in the first place. It was a short story that I wrote in order to try and help my daughter understand where confidence comes from and to teach her how easy it is to become confident!
After writing it, I read it to her one day in my office and although she said she liked it, I could tell that she didn’t get it. Mainly she just couldn’t sit still through it, like all the children’s books we had read before bedtime. The words were nice, but she always connected with the pictures! I realized if this were going to work, I had to take it to the next level and turn this story into an actual book.
So, I started contacting publishers and reaching out to illustrators whom I thought could pull off my vision so that my daughter could finally not only hear the story but see it and enjoy it. And that decision has made all the difference in the world for her. Now she connects with it and asks questions about it! The illustrations help trigger the thoughts that lead to comprehension and understanding. Without the pictures there’s no connection or relation.
The book uses robots as main characters. Why did you decide to use robots?
As a dad who’s read lots of children’s books, most stories are either about other children, monsters, or animals. I didn’t want this to be like other stories and wanted there to be representation of God in the book without there being a direct mentioning of God. In other words, I wanted kids to be able to easily enjoy a fun and magical story while allowing parents the ability to recognize the Biblical truths used through these characters that are sometimes hard to explain to their children.
In modern times, robots or the idea of robots is the only thing that I thought could illustrate this. A robot isn’t born, it’s invented by an Inventor! Inventors create all kinds of amazing things and kids can easily understand creation through the eyes of an inventor. Talking animals and monsters are cute, but I needed something that could be invented and still be relatable to any child. And after all, what kids doesn’t think robots are cool?
Why do you emphasize being awesome in this book?
I want everyone to be and experience the best version of themselves possible since most of the time it’s much easier to settle for less! It’s easy to go about hoping for a good day or even bumping it up to a great day, but what if you chose to embrace having an awesome day? Awesome is on another level as a grander exaggeration to words like good and great.
If you’re going to start your day and improve your self-worth, attitude, and situation, it’s always best to start from the highest possible point, which is awesome! Choosing awesome means starting your best day ever each and every day. This way when things don’t go the way you planned or life comes at you or attacks in ways you didn’t expect, you are sure to come out stronger and more positive than if you’d started at a lower level.
So, if you simply start on a good day, it doesn’t take long to drop to a bad day. Starting at great could drop you to good before things go bad, but awesome starts at a level that has to pass both great and good. We should all start at the highest level in all aspects of our life in order to have the most awesome lives possible!
What advice do you have for parents interested in having these discussions about confidence and self-esteem with their children?
The best way to start a dialogue between you and your children about self-esteem and confidence is to help them see and understand their own awesome first. It’s hard to choose awesome and start believing in yourself without understanding what it feels like inside to actually be awesome.
So, the biggest and most important step is to build them up by communicating how awesome you think they are. As parents, we find no trouble in providing constant and continuous love for our children. We say I love you, give kisses and hugs, but a lot of time we spend so much time communicating affection that we forget to communicate recognition. Your child can’t believe they are awesome until they believe that YOU think they’re awesome first!
Your children need to be told “I’m proud of you,” “you did an awesome job,” “you are the most awesome boy/girl I know.” You may be surprised at the responses and even the questions that come up with these statements, which will help you realize how important and profound these moments really are. If you don’t tell them how awesome they really are, then who will?
Why is it important to start these talks with your children at a young age?
Peer judgement may feel like it was invented in middle school but it actually starts much earlier. As your child starts to explore their newly discovered world, social interactions become extremely important early on. From daycare to preschool and then onto kindergarten, social interactions, clicks, and judgement all start to appear and become important as children discover and meet other kids. Whether your child is quiet, to themselves, outgoing, or even so social they don’t know what a stranger is, their social skills are not a direct reflection of their self-worth. We want our kids to put their best foot forward and in order to thrive in social situations when meeting either other children or adults, they need confidence to navigate these new relationships!
How do you think being confident at a young age helps children as they grow into adulthood?
Confidence is the turbo boost to all life experience! By building up a stronger confidence in your children, you are increasing the likelihood in success of all things. Children with more confidence are shown to be more willing to try new things and get things done because they believe in themselves. Confidence relates to volunteering to go up on stage, raising a hand to ask a question or offer up an answer to a question, trying out for sports or a dance solo, taking on new experiences and trying new hobbies.
A lack of confidence fosters feelings that all parents fear. Not wanting to be involved in group activities, never trying new things, doesn’t play well with others, would rather be alone. These perceived character flaws can’t be fixed or turned around without your child understanding how awesome they are and how awesome you think they are! They need the foundation of a strong self-esteem and self-worth to help push them to stand out from the crowd and try new things.
What makes you an expert on confidence?
I’m an expert on confidence because it’s something I am continually working on! In fact, I didn’t grow up extremely confident. My confidence rose and fell with each passing year. From being bullied as a young boy for being the “four-eyed fat kid” with glasses to making the varsity football team as a junior and discovering peer popularity, I experienced all the highs and the lows.
I left college very confident, got married young, and started what I thought was my dream life. Then in my early thirties I experienced my lowest point. I was in a failed marriage and filing for divorce. I had stopped going to church and bottled up so much anger, I felt I was going to burst at any moment. I can honestly say that I had no confidence. I was a single dad trying to figure out life with a career that had stalled due to my own lack of self-worth and I needed answers.
At my parents’ request, I attended a Wednesday evening church service on my own called Worship Wednesday after avoiding church for a few years. It was the turning point I needed. I sat on the third row and just cried, no sobbed, the entire service. I asked God to give me the strength I needed to get myself back and I believe he spoke to me. He told me he loved me and that I needed to use him as my fuel to get my life back.
I am an expert because I’ve lived with confidence and without confidence. I know what it’s like on both sides and God has given me a gift to communicate that to the world! Shortly after, I created a speech called “Becoming Awesome” which became the foundation of my entire career. It connected with people and allowed me to share to steps I had been taking to embrace my newly founded God-powered confidence! Five years later with thousands of people reached worldwide and now I want to impact a new generation. I now want everyone to experience the confidence that God has given me. I couldn’t be where I am now or know what I know without Him. It’s his strength that powers me and guides me to be awesome!
Where does your confidence come from?
My confidence truly comes from God! I know a lot of people have a hard time understanding that, but it’s true. The problem is that most people confuse confidence and cockiness or see confidence as a fine line that ultimately leads to cockiness, and let’s face it, no one enjoys being around cocky people.
My secret is defining the two and understanding the difference. Confidence is when you believe that you are awesome, everyone you know is awesome, everything around you is awesome and life is going to be awesome. Cockiness on the other hand is when you believe you are more awesome than anyone else, your life is better than others, you are more awesome than anyone else could be, and you’re never impressed with anything because it can’t live up to your hype or standard. Cockiness thrives on tearing others down so that you can build yourself up, while confidence thrives on making everyone feel better.
Now where is the God connection? Phillipians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you know someone who believes they can do all things? I’m betting if you do, you’d call them confident. The Bible says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Not some, not most, it says “all.” All things can be done by any one of us. But don’t miss the main point – that confidence doesn’t come from a book or just by choice, it comes from Christ! God is the strength and the muscle that takes us from our natural nervous state and powers us to be confident in everything that we do. All we have to do is recognize it and turn to Him and we too can all experience a God-powered confidence!
Ultimately, what do you hope parents and children take away from I Am Awesome!?
I want everyone who reads this book to realize that not only is confidence a good thing, it’s what God intended! God created each and every one of us with a specific purpose and a plan that is fueled by His awesomeness. It’s up to us to tap into that awesomeness to see life through a totally different set of eyes.
Imagine how much better you would feel if every time someone asked you how you were doing and you made a point to say, “I am awesome!” Imagine how much more you would enjoy life if you thought everything was awesome! Imagine how much better you would do in school, at work, and as a parent if you believed you were an awesome student, staff member, or parent. Experiencing an awesome life is as simple as accepting that when God made you, he created someone made of nothing less than awesome!
Learn more about Ryan and I Am Awesome! at www.ryankmaule.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About The Book
I Am Awesome! tells the story of two robots named Grace and Zeal who live in Goodland, a land created by an Inventor where everyone and everything is Good. When Grace and Zeal meet a new invention who claims to be Awesome and not just Good they set off for the Inventor’s workshop to get some answers. There they discover the truth – that they are worth more than they ever realized.
I Am Awesome! is available on Amazon