Fortune Favors The Bold

“Fortune is not on the side of the fainthearted.”

Socrates said that a long time ago. And it’s still true today. You can’t expect to win any races if you haven’t got a bit of courage and a strong belief in yourself.

Unfortunately, as Dr. Robert Schuller reported in his national survey, most people have a self-esteem that is way too low. They simply haven’t got enough self-esteem to be running at full capacity. They’re like automobiles sputtering along with a fuel that has too low of an octane rating.

In the last two issues of the “Tuesday Tip,” I outlined eight low self-esteem behaviors. I’m sure you’ve seen them in people, and you may even have a couple of them yourself. Let me outline the final four behaviors that show up when low self-esteem is present.

9. The Braggart

People will often ask me if a person can have too much self-esteem. Then they’ll describe a coworker who seems terribly conceited, arrogant, and full of himself. Or they’ll describe someone who flaunts the celebrities he knows, the possessions he owns, or the places he’s been.

The answer is “no.” A person with a strong, healthy self-esteem has no need to brag or impress others. He simply believes in himself and behaves with confidence.

It’s the insecure person who feels the need to brag. He figures if he can convince others that he’s okay, he might even convince himself.

I remember one man who liked to brag. He was 80 years old when he went to see a doctor for a check-up. The doctor told him he was in great shape and would probably live a long time. The doctor asked, “Just out of curiosity, how old was your father when be died?”

The 80-year old patient responded, “Did I say he was dead?”

The doctor couldn’t believe it. So he asked, “How old was your grandfather when he died?”

The elderly patient again responded, “Did I say he was dead?”

The astonished doctor replied, “You mean to tell me you’re 80 years old and both your father and grandfather are still alive?”

“Not only that,” said the patient, “My grandfather is 126 years old. And next week he’s getting married for the first time!”

The doctor asked, “After 126 years of being a bachelor, why on earth did your grandfather want to get married?

The patient looked up at the doctor and said, “Did I say he wanted to?”

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10. The Nit Picker

A person with low self-esteem can also find something wrong with everything. The glass is always half empty. She’s the quintessential griper.

If you tell her it’s a nice day outside, she might say, “Yeah, but it probably won’t last.” If you comment on the good meal you shared at a restaurant, she may respond, “But the iced tea could have used more ice.” She’s the master of the negative “but.”

I see it in seminars all the time. An organization can pay a high fee, bring in an excellent speaker, and arrange a wonderful location. The program is outstanding, and almost everyone goes away raving about the day. But when you ask “The Nit Picker” about the day, she’ll talk about the fact that the chairs were too hard or the room was too cold. Her low self-esteem caused her to miss the entire day.

It’s like the two friends who met on the street. One looked sad and totally depressed. The other man asked, “Hey, how come you look like the whole world caved in?”

His depressed friend said, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me $100,000.”

“Not bad,” said the other.

“Hold on, I’m just getting started. Two weeks ago a cousin kicked the bucket and left me half a million free and clear.”

“Incredible,” said the other.

“Yeah, well last week my grandfather passed away, and I inherited $2 million.”

“Wait a minute,” says the other. “Why are you so depressed?”

His friend replied, “This week — nothing!”

A person with high self-esteem would be a lot more grateful. And his gratefulness would almost guarantee a great, full life.

11. The Mask Wearer

Another behavioral sign of low self-esteem comes with “The Mask Wearer.” She’s the person who is convinced that no one would accept her as she is. So she covers up her real self by wearing a mask. She tries to figure out what kind of person others would like, and then she pretends to be that kind of person.

Of course, this is a dangerous strategy. If she’s able to fool people, if she’s able to wear a mask and convince people that that’s who she really is, she’s in trouble when she gets complimented. The compliments turn into self-loathing. She knows that people like her mask, and she’s persuaded they would never like her.

Some people wear a mask of self-importance. They “pretend” they’re more important than they really are. I see this in the business world all too often, and then those same people wonder why they have difficulty building a close-knit team.

I remember one confident young man who broke through someone else’s mask. He had tried over and over again to get an appointment with a certain executive — but with no success.

Finally he was able to see the man’s secretary. He gave her an envelope with his card and a note inside. She delivered it, and the executive came right out.

Of course she wondered how the young man had done it. Simple. On the back of his card he had written, “This morning I talked to God for 15 minutes. How come I can’t talk to you?”

12. The Loner

The last of the dirty dozen, the last of the 12 behavioral signs of low self-esteem is “The Loner.” He’s the shy guy.

Now certainly, some people are more reserved by nature. Some people are more introverted. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I’m talking about the person who doesn’t think he has anything worthwhile to say. So he’s quiet and aloof. He doesn’t contribute much to a conversation, and he doesn’t say much at a team meeting.

Or “The Loner” may not think he has anything worthwhile to offer. So he doesn’t get too involved in deeper relationships, and he doesn’t add much to a group activity.

By contrast, a person with higher self-esteem has the confidence to get more deeply involved. He opens up, shares, contributes, and connects.

It’s like the car that skidded on wet pavement and hit a light pole. Several bystanders ran over to help the driver.

A woman was the first one to reach the victim. But a man pushed her aside. He said, “Step back lady. I’ve taken a course in first aid.”

The woman watched him for a few moments. Then she tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Pardon me, but when you get to the part about calling a doctor, I’m right here.”

Well that’s it — the 12 most frequent behaviors you’ll see when low self-esteem is present. None of them will ever do you any good.

You’ve got to stop the behavior, and you’ve got to fix the low self-esteem that leads to those behaviors. The good news is you can do it. The research has even made it quite clear how you do it. Now the question is — “Will you do it?”

Maybe it’s time you built your self-esteem. Maybe it’s time you took charge and got my 6-pack CD album on “TAKING CHARGE: 6 Strategies for Achieving More Than Ever.”

Action:  If you find yourself doing any of the four behaviors listed above, I challenge you to do just the opposite. If you’re a Nit Picker, for example, force yourself to be a Good Finder. And if you’re a Loner, force yourself to interact with others. You will be on your way to eliminating the old dysfunctional behavior as you build your self-esteem.