05 Sep Self Esteem, Part 1
I’ve had a number of conversations with leaders lately centered around self-esteem. They usually don’t start out that way, but as we continue to talk and flush out a problem at work or at home it’s not uncommon to find that at the root is someone’s esteem level. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how esteem influences behavior and some steps to improving our self-esteem as well as a improving a culture of esteem on teams. Today I’ll focus on what esteem is and what it isn’t.
Here is how I define self-esteem: an emotion; the degree that I feel worthy of happiness and confident to deal with life’s challenges. Self esteem is how warm, friendly, and appreciative you feel towards yourself. Your self esteem is the corresponding feelings you have about yourself, or your emotion and compassion for yourself. Self esteem is NOT egotism or conceit or arrogance. It is NOT an intellectual inventory of your favorable characteristics and assets. Self esteem is the degree that you, consciously or unconsciously, love and accept yourself as you are—the degree that you respect yourself and feel confident that you have what it takes to deal with life’s challenges. Healthy self esteem has an attitude of abundance: “I have everything I need, or I can find it, to deal with whatever life sends my way.”
In contrast, low self esteem has an attitude of scarcity. It shows up in feelings like “I can’t handle this,” or “This is too much,” or “I’m not equipped of this.” A feeling of scarcity leads one to withhold out of a need to save the self instead of helping others. One might withhold praise, participation, information, or their best efforts out of a fear that others will gain an unfair advantage. Low self esteem often leads to teasing and sarcasm.
The Cauldron Theory, which captures the essence of this condition, states that in order to pour water into another person’s cup, you must have water in your own. You can’t give away what you don’t have. You see, we all benefit when we feel better about ourselves. As Zig Ziglar has so perfectly said, “If you help enough people accomplish their goals, you will accomplish all of yours.” As we each believe that we are valued and worthy, we can help instill that same value in others, and people who feel good about themselves are much more productive, participate in healthy conversations, and share ideas where honest feedback is given and received.
Our goal is to grow our esteem so that when we are faced with challenges we can handle them with confidence knowing that we will be better on the other side because of it. And, at the same time, we will help grow the esteem of our teams.
How would you describe your esteem level? What do you do to show warm regard for yourself at all times? When was the last time you caught yourself in the act of doing something right? What can you do this week to catch yourself in the act of doing something right?
Read more about this in Moving To Great. Click here to purchase on Amazon.