In a previous post, I talked about your self-image regulating your performance and keeping you in your comfort zone. Your self-esteem also plays a role in your performance.
I’ve heard various definitions of self-esteem, but the one I like best comes from Bob Moawad’s Increasing Human Effectiveness workshop. It’s not an inventory of your favorable characteristics, traits, achievements, honors or accolades; nor is it conceit. It’s not what you do—your job or your roles in life.
As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If you are what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t.” Think about that. It’s the downfall of people who lose their job or a retiree. A job can be a tee. I struggled with that a little, feeling a bit lost, on the first Monday after I retired from Lubrizol.
My definition, which is adapted from Bob Moawad’s, is:
The degree that I like and respect myself and feel confident to deal with life’s challenges; how warm, friendly and appreciative I feel toward myself.
If you have ever owned dogs or been around them, you have witnessed unconditional love. When I facilitated The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People workshop, the best personal mission I ever heard was, “I want to be worthy of my dog’s unconditional love.” What it would take to be worthy of that?
But how do you feel about yourself? Do you have a warm, friendly and appreciative feeling and love yourself unconditionally? What holds you back? Is it your life? Is it your achievements? Self-Esteem does play into what you achieve or, more correctly, what you believe you can achieve, which is your potential. I’ll discuss the connection between your potential and effectiveness/sustainability in a subsequent post.
How do you talk to yourself (come on, we all do it) when things go well, but more importantly, when things go badly? I know I do not acknowledge myself when things go well as a result of my efforts. In fact, I often play it down. But I’m really good at beating myself up when things don’t go as planned. I catch myself verbally abusing myself in my mind. I would never talk to anyone else like that. Where does it come from?
One thing I have to be very conscious of is the difference between perfection and excellence. In a nutshell, I am perfect. Sounds arrogant, doesn’t it? It’s really not, though.
What else can I be given that I am the summation of all my life experiences, good and bad, that brought me to be where I am? Excellence, on the other hand, is the result of excelling at something. The two may be equivalent in some cases, but it’s best to strive for excellence realizing that you are perfect just as you are. I will talk more about this in a subsequent post as well.
For me, high self-esteem is the result of being well-grounded from within. Your Sacred Self would never talk down to someone else. I know that’s just my Ego trying to bust his way out and dominate my life. I’ve become better at catching when my Ego goes on a rant about something I did or didn’t do, say or didn’t say. But I still have to improve.
Since you and I as humans can think about our thoughts, we need to pay attention to our self-talk. Catch yourself doing things right and tell yourself. Now don’t go overboard. For example, if you do a great job at carving the turkey at Thanksgiving, don’t tell yourself that you can now do intricate surgeries. Not quite the same thing…
When things go bad, hit your mental “pause button” before you think anything about yourself or others. There is a gap between the stimulus and response where you have the opportunity to use your four human endowments—self-awareness, independent free will, conscience, imagination—to choose how you respond to anything. But you must first have the knowing that you can do that. I say knowing as opposed to belief because it has to come from your innermost being, your Sacred Self.
As a side note, there is another outfall when things go wrong and you’re the cause of it. In addition to beating you up, your Ego wants to put the blame on someone or something else while your Sacred Self will accept the responsibility.
“There are two ways to have the tallest building in town. One is to tear everyone else’s building down, and the other is to build your building taller.” -Jim Rohn (US Author 1930-2009)
The Ego will tear all the buildings down around it, while the Sacred Self wants to build yours up.
Which one, Ego or Sacred Self, are you going to allow to win? You can choose.