If you have read even a few self help books then you know this for a fact: There is a lot that gets said under the garb of peak performance, self help, personal productivity, psychology etc.
But one thing most authors agree and which research in psychology has confirmed is the enormous impact of self esteem on one’s life. The long and short of self esteem is that it is made up of three components: Self Ideals, Self Concept and Self Esteem.
Self Ideals is your version of your perfect self. Self Concept is how close you think you are to it. Self Esteem is how good you feel about yourself. It is your sense of self worth. Self esteem is a very important part of your persona. It is your subconscious driver. It is your personal thermostat. It is your emotional engine.
But enough of the dry boring academic details.
I once had a personal experience that drove home the supreme importance of self esteem to one’s decisions and choices. I have had a long career and changed several jobs while at it. In spite of my significant academic achievements including getting a 99 percentile ranking on the GMAT on my very first attempt I was in the grey zone between outright self confidence and utter diffidence.
The incident occurred at least 20 years ago when the family was playing around with a new and novel gadget. A voice recorder! When my turn came I spoke a few words and replayed the recording. I was shocked at how meek and timid I sounded.
Somehow I made the switch from academia to corporate not only surviving but thriving in the selection process. I got a job with a coveted employer. After a year at it I changed jobs and then again … and again.
I became pretty good at selling myself and talking the confident talk, showcasing my achievements from the past, but I bombed when it came to negotiations on salary and other terms. I was an utter flop. I literally became a different personality and sweated even talking about occasional work from home opportunities, a nice perk at that time, let alone salary and benefits.
So I did not.
As a result of taking whatever was offered I lost out on salary and benefits. Later on in the job I encountered a colleague who negotiated an extra week of vacation. This when I thought vacation was utterly non negotiable!
When I look back I realized I could have done with a better sense of self worth. I felt I was being given what I was worth even though it was a negotiation tactic most often.
Working on my self esteem has made a world of difference to me and will do the same for you.
Your self worth determines your attitude, your actions and how you relate to yourself and others among other things. A high self esteem leads to a great output. In other words if you feel good about yourself you will do good by yourself and for others. It is well worth being aware of it and taking steps to increasing and maintaining it.
In his book “Success Is A Choice”, Rick Pitino, one of the winningest coaches in NBA outlines a 10 step program. The foundation of the entire 10 step process … self esteem.
So how do you develop self esteem?
Self Esteem has to be deserved
You can’t fool yourself. A solid sense of self esteem can only come from true accomplishments. Anything else is illusion and that is dangerous because then you start living in denial. For example if you are obese don’t just fool yourself into accepting your condition. Work at losing it by eating less, eating right, working out, etc.
Make and keep promises
This is a great way to boost your self esteem. If you are not used to keeping your word and tend to rationalize your failure to commit then start small.
I had an on and off relationship with my blog. I used to have periods where something motivated me to write fervently and then the sideways period where I did not touch my blog for months.
I felt I was not going anywhere with until the day I committed to writing 250 words a day, nothing more and nothing less. Excuses gave way to actual writing. Turns out it was not that big a deal after all.
Oh but what a terrific boost it was to my self esteem. It was like taking a hallucinogenic drug, the way it made me feel great and upbeat.
Go easy on yourself
It is easy to get caught up in the ritual of boosting your self esteem that you could really start beating yourself should you slip up. We all fall off the bus once in a while. But if you were to go too harsh on yourself you would do be doing two things:
- adversely affecting your self esteem. The very thing you wanted to boost in the first place.
- making it harder on yourself to get back on your feet. Adopting an attitude of ‘hey its no big deal’ will actually make it easy to get back on your feet.
Go out of your comfort zone
Building your self esteem is not just about little incremental actions that you perform daily. It could also be decisive actions that you take at pivotal moments in your life. For example it could be the day you shed your inhibitions and proposed and married your current mate. In my case it was when I challenged my sense of self worth and asked and received three times my current salary on the second job after graduation.
Keep a success journal
In the hustle and bustle of our life it is easy to forget your personal triumphs against external odds or against your own weaknesses. As the years pass on memories of your previous successes become lost in the mists of time. But if you were able to persist and succeed against odds then you can very much do so even now. You are the same person if not better.
Track your successes in a journal. A walk down the memory lane will become a pleasant way to remind yourself of all your great deeds.