Growing your self-esteem


Today, we look at the second of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “feeling fully” the last time.  These principles also apply very well to adults working in the business world and can help us work better with others and understand, for ourselves, how we can be most productive and effective in every walk of life.

What is the principle of self-esteem? Vannoy defines it like this:

“When you have high self-esteem you are nearly invincible. No matter what happens, you still know that you are a good and capable person, that you can do what you need to do again and even better. You have a rich supply of inner strength. You approach every moment, every event, every interaction with an attitude of openness instead of fear, giving instead of taking, acknowledging your strengths rather than your weaknesses. You see abundance and opportunity instead of shortage and trouble.”

Many individuals struggle with low self-esteem. This can result in addictions, depression, a sense of inadequacy, or worse.  There are many theories about how self-esteem is formed in us as individuals, but most believe the feelings we have about ourselves as adults was primarily formed during our early childhood years.  A low self-esteem can hinder us in the workplace, as well.  It can result in an inability to make decisions, unwillingness to assume a new role or task, or a general lack of participation in work or team activities.

So, what can we do to help shape a more positive self-esteem? As adults, are we doomed to life as it is?  Well, of course, I suggest that the answer is, “Yes, we can enhance our self-esteem.  It is possible to shift our thinking to one that is more positive.”  Not suggesting that I am an expert on the subject, I do offer the following 6 key steps that I have observed that work to help enhance self-esteem:

  1. Acknowledge and name your strengths – We all have strengths… things we generally do better than anyone else. However, we often forget them in the face of challenges or our weaknesses overshadow those strengths. Take the time to think about what you do well, where you have been successful in the past, and things you bring to the table that can benefit others.
  2. Position yourself for success – Failure often comes because we put ourselves in positions in which we are highly unlikely to succeed. For example, if I put myself in a situation in which I have agreed to play a concert piano solo with the St. Louis Symphony, I am destined to fail. Learning to position yourself in ways that provide a high percentage of success is one way to avoid those failures that might drag us down. Focus on your strengths and highlight those, not your weaknesses.
  3. Identify the worst-case scenario, then move upward from there – Often, when I am faced with a challenge, I simply ask, “OK, what is the worst case scenario here?” When I look at it from that view, I can see that, at worst, I have a minor delay or easily corrected problem. We can position ourselves for success when you realize that the risk of failure is actually small or minor. This enhances confidence and, ultimately, our success.
  4. Nurture relationships with individuals that can provide honest feedback – We need others in our lives that are not afraid to tell us the truth. It is easy to avoid such individuals, but we need someone that can tell us our strengths and weaknesses. When we hear from someone else that we trust that we are phenomenal, it boosts our confidence.
  5. See the glass as half full – Individuals often have low self-esteem simply because they do not see the value that they routinely add. Seeing things from a positive perspective instead of a negative one takes work, but it can change our entire attitude.
  6. Be realistic – We need to be honest with ourselves. And, in being honest, we are more likely to be objective. The reality is that understanding our value and the contributions we can make will help us realize that we can make a difference and we have to take a back seat to no one else.

Don’t feel as though you must live the rest of your days being inferior and less important than others. Everyone has strengths and everyone has value!  By looking for those strengths that we already possess and building upon them, we can literally change our view.  We can re-build our self-esteem step-by-step, brick-by-brick… if we work at it.  Let’s look for ways to apply the suggestions listed above to allow us a better, more accurate view of our potential and value.  As Vannoy puts it, we need to see more of our “…abundance and opportunity instead of shortage and trouble.”  And, let’s not neglect the honest feedback and advice of a few trusted friends… this might be the tonic we need to push us all forward.

Thanks for all you do! Have a fantastic day and remember, this just might be the day… our very best one yet!

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