Two Steps To Better Self-Esteem

Pleasure is found in what you do. Happiness is found in who you are.

In 1950, Ralph Bunche won the Nobel Peace Prize for being an outstanding statesman. But you might not know the secret of his climb to national and international success and acclaim. It wasn’t due to the fact that he was born into a noble family or had some fancy, expensive education.

No. Ralph was born in Detroit. His mother died when he was very young. His father, a butcher, supported the family until his death soon thereafter. Ralph was left an orphan at the age of twelve.

When his parents died, Ralph came to Los Angeles to live with his grandmother, Lucy Johnson. She was an inspiring woman… who wrote, near the end of her life, a book entitled, “Believe In Yourself.”

In the first chapter she wrote, “Believe in yourself. Never say, ‘I am going to try.’ but rather, ‘I am going to do’.” She repeatedly drove that message into Ralph, and it paid off. Ralph became the most distinguished fellow of his day, and he became the first black to be honored with the Nobel Peace Price — because he believed in himself.

Half a century later, in the year 2002, Serena Williams, the winner of the U.S. Open Women’s Singles, said about the same thing. Serena said, “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does — that makes you a winner right there.”

And Jim Stovall, a true rags to riches individual, affirmed that at a 2003 meeting I was attending. Jim noted that “The only sales job you will ever have to do is on yourself. Everything else is just communication.”

In each case, Bunche, Williams, and Stovall, they seem to be saying the same thing… when your self-esteem and self-confidence are in good shape, success is almost a given. I agree.

In fact I would go as far as to say that self-esteem is the foundation of all other success. One poem says it quite well…

“If there is self-esteem in the soul,
“There will be happiness in the person.
“If there is happiness in the person,
“There will be harmony in the home.
“If there is harmony in the home,
“There will be order in the nation.
“If there is order in the nation,
“There will be peace in the world.”

In my two-day program entitled “The Journey To The Extraordinary,” I outline the 12 keys to incredible success in every part of your life. And not too surprising, the first key is self-esteem. In fact, self-esteem is so critical, so fundamental that you perform exactly as you see yourself. When you strengthen your self-esteem, you automatically improve your performance.

Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to strengthen their self-esteem — significantly and permanently. They pursue behaviors that don’t work and might even back fire. If you want more, good, healthy self-esteem, here’s what I suggest.

=> 1. Don’t Waste Your Time Trying To Get Attention.

Sometimes people will ask me if it’s possible for a person to have too much self-esteem. After all, they know some coworkers or family members who seem to be conceited, arrogant, or stuck on themselves.

My answer is, “No, you can’t have too much self-esteem. In fact, behaviors of conceit and arrogance are always signs of low self-esteem.” The person who behaves that way is actually insecure. He’s trying to prove to himself and others that he really is okay — even though he doubts it.

When a person has a healthy measure of self-esteem, he has no need to prove it or impress others. He simply behaves with a quiet but powerful sense of confidence and conviction.

Just remember — it is impossible to find happiness through trying to prove your own self-importance.

=> 2. Don’t Waste Your Time On Trying To Be Perfect.

Michael Eisner, the CEO of Walt Disney Productions, said, “The cost of perfection will drive you out of business. What you are striving for is MAGIC, not perfection.”

Similarly, the cost of trying to be perfect is a loss of self-esteem. It’s not possible to be perfect because perfection is NOT a human attribute. Only God can make that claim.

So the more you try to be perfect, the more you realize your inability to be perfect. You might even label yourself as a failure, and that’s a far cry from self-esteem.

Even more insidious, when you strive for perfection, you tend to define yourself by the situation. Because you lost, you’re a loser. And because you failed, you’re a loser.

To have a strong sense of self-esteem, you must accept the fact you’ll never be perfect. You are not finished making mistakes. You will fail again. You must accept the fact that not everyone will like you. Lots of people will disagree with you. And you will die with some unfinished business.

By contrast, if you’re going to build up your self-esteem, you’ve got to accept who you are, how you got there, and where you’re going. You’ve got to be patient with yourself when you make mistakes, fail, or do really stupid things.

And you’ve got to strive for EXCELLENCE instead of perfection. If you simply try to get by, saying something is “good enough,” you’ll never feel proud of yourself. And if you try to be perfect, you’ll never succeed. Neither extreme works.

Self-esteem comes when you know you’ve done your best. As one poster said, “Success is not beating everyone else, because there will always be someone faster, smarter, better, stronger, and wiser. The only thing that matters is raising your own bar. It’s only important to continue to beat your own previous best.”

There’s good news. No one has to live with poor self-esteem. It can be built.

And even if you have high self-esteem, someone else can come along and rip it apart. So it’s time to learn how you can have a L.A.S.T.I.N.G. self-esteem that will stick with you and work for you all the time.

Action:  To what extent are you guilty of pursuing Attention? Pursuing Perfectionism? They’re both dead-end strategies when it comes to building a strong healthy self-esteem.

And what is one thing you could do instead? What might be a healthier behavior to pursue?