You perform exactly as you see yourself.
After delivering the keynote address at a national business convention, an audience member drew me aside. He said he had something to discuss with me.
“I’ve just been promoted to a very high position in my company,” he said. “I’m scared to death. I’ve let them think that I know all about that job, that I’m extremely competent. But I don’t think I can do it. I’ll make a fool of myself!”
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been in a situation where your self-esteem was as shaky as that man’s self-esteem? I’d hate to admit how many times I’ve felt that way.
The strange thing is most people look confident and composed on the outside–but many of them are insecure on the inside. They’re filled with self-doubt. And that’s serious. Decades ago, Dr. Charles Mayo said, “I never knew a man to die of overwork, but I have known men to die of doubt.”
The good news is you can get rid of the doubt. You can have great self-esteem. You really can. That’s why you shouldn’t listen to my CD on “SELF-ESTEEM;” you should study it. It’s included in my 6-pack CD album entitled “TAKE CHARGE: 6 Strategies For Achieving More Than Ever Before.”
And it’s not all that difficult. As master juggler Rob Peck says, “You don’t have to believe in magic–because the real magic is in believing.”
So how do you go about believing in yourself? It’s a process or journey that includes the following steps.
Step one: TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT YOURSELF. Make an honest self-appraisal. You’re not going to change anything until you admit the need for change.
You might stand in front of a mirror. Do you look discouraged, or do you look self-assured? Your physical appearance reflects and affects your self-esteem. If you improve one, you will improve the other.
Then examine the inner you. Do you feel confident, or is your mind filled with worries? If you have uncertainties about your ability to cope with life, admit them. Then tell yourself you’re going to do something about them.
Step two: PICTURE YOURSELF THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE–for you have a strong tendency to become what you imagine.
So think about it. What kind of personality would you like to have? What talents would you like to nurture? What successes would you like to achieve? Picture those things for two or three minutes two to three times a day.
When you do that, your image kicks a process called “mental osmosis” into gear. And your mind will do its best to reproduce the image in fact.
Of course, Olympic athletes know about this. They attribute 95% of their success to the mental work that underlies their physical performance. They know that if they’re going to be successful, they must first “see” themselves as successful.
Likewise, when you picture yourself the way you want to be, your image turns to energy. Your energy turns to determination, determination to action, action to results, and results to self-esteem.
Step three: TALK AWAY YOUR FEAR. For most of us, there are two separate and conflicting entities inside our minds: the “brave me” and the “fearful me.” Many times the “fearful me” paralyzes and frustrates the “brave me.” You’ve got to talk away the “fearful me” if you’re going to have great self-esteem.
At the beginning of his opera career, the famous Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, was unsure of his talent. On an opening night, Caruso stood in the wings waiting to go on stage when he was seized by an overwhelming attack of fear. He actually shook with fear. Nearby, astonished stagehands heard him whisper the command, “Out! You miserable ‘little me.’ Get out of the way! Out! Out!”
Caruso was changing the way he viewed himself through self-talk. He told the fearful element inside himself that his “brave me” would prevail. In the face of this fierce counter-attack, the “little me” shrank-away, and Caruso went on stage and sang with beauty and power.
Maybe it sounds crazy, but this technique really works. Tell yourself, over and over, that you are capable of accomplishing the things you fear. Tell yourself you can do it, that you’ve got what it takes, and that you’re equal to the task. Your fear will die and your self-esteem will grow.
Step four: LIVE DARINGLY. That’s the advice of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to successfully reach the summit of Mt. Everest. He says, “Aim high! There is little virtue in easy victory.”
To live daringly does not mean you live foolishly. You must do your homework, studying each problem or opportunity that comes your way. You must learn as much as you can about each of them; make a decision, and take some bold action.
Once you’ve done your homework, don’t give in to faintheartedness. Faintheartedness always gets faint results. Socrates said, “Fortune is not on the side of the fainthearted.”
So live daringly. Dare to be what you dream to be. Dare to be the finest you can be.
Like Babe Ruth. One of the things that made him a great baseball player was the fact that he would swing at any pitch that was any good at all. Sure, he struck out a lot, but he also hit more home runs than any other player of his time.
Step five: CLEAR YOUR CONSCIENCE. Even though the preceding techniques will work wonders, it’s almost impossible to sustain self-esteem if something is troubling you. You must be able to look at yourself in the mirror without feeling ashamed of some wrong you have done.
Maybe you have to forgive yourself, or maybe you need to ask for forgiveness. It’s never easy. But one sign of a mentally healthy, growing, self-respecting human being is the ability to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Forgive me.” You simply can’t go into the future lugging the accumulated weight of past wrongs.
Step six: ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES–and learn from them. People with low self-esteem may try to hide their mistakes, deny them, or blame somebody else for them. But those folks who are building their self-esteem know that mistakes–handled well–can be extremely helpful.
Rhoda Olsen, President and COO of Great Clips, Inc., says, “If I didn’t make so many mistakes, I wouldn’t be so smart.” She teaches the employees of Great Clips that it’s okay to fail as long as they learn from their mistakes.
Never give up your right to be wrong. Business philosopher Jim Rohn says, “At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.”
If, on the other hand, you’ve always got to be right, if you can’t admit being wrong, you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. You will not build a solid self-esteem.
Step seven: LEARN FROM YOUR SUCCESSES. When you succeed at something, analyze your success. Don’t chalk it up to good luck. Figure out what you did right so you can keep on doing it.
The reason is simple. Competence builds confidence. If you’re good at something, and if you know you’re good at it, you can’t help but build your self-esteem.
Unfortunately, our society often discourages an honest look at our successes. That’s the dilemma that Lewis Carroll described in his book, Alice in Wonderland. In the book Alice says: “Where I come from, people study what they are not good at in order to be able to do what they are good at…Nobody ever tells us to study the right things we do. We’re only supposed to learn from the wrong things. But we are permitted to study the right things other people do…It seems like I have to do something wrong first, in order to learn from that what not to do. And then, by not doing what I’m not supposed to do, perhaps I’ll be right. But I’d rather be right the first time, wouldn’t you?”
Millions of people crawl through their lives and their careers, defeated and afraid–nowhere near their potential. Sometimes they try to cover it up by appearing “so-together,” but beneath it all they are frightened people with poor self-esteem.
Self-esteem, on the other hand, brings confidence, and confidence is a vital ingredient in the formula for success. Such was the case with one tiny, elderly Florida woman.
After finishing her shopping, she returned to her car and found four men in the act of stealing her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bag and drew a handgun from her purse, proceeding to scream, “I have a gun and know how to use it! Get out of the car!”
The four men didn’t wait for a second invitation. They got out and ran.
The spunky woman then proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back seat of car and get into the driver’s seat. She was so nervous that she couldn’t get her key in the ignition switch. She tried and tried and then it dawned on her. She was in the wrong car.
A few minutes later, she found her own Buick parked four or five spaces farther down. She loaded her bags in the car and drove to the police station.
She began telling her story to the desk sergeant when he broke into laughter. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four shaking men were reporting a car-jacking by an elderly woman, less than five feet tall, with glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a handgun. No files were charged.
Do you want more self-esteem? Do you need it? I’ve just given you seven steps to get it.
Action: Select two successes from this past week. Analyze them. What made you successful? What did you do right? What attitudes, skills, or qualities helped you achieve your success? Write them down.
Select two failures from this past week. With every failure comes experience. Write down what you learned from your failures so you won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.