Self-Esteem: Thousands of books, world over, have been written on this subject. Countless coaches and psychotherapists, all over the world, coach people on how to raise your self-esteem. And yet, millions of people suffer from the consequences of having low self-esteem.
In my 20 years of being a business owner, I have worked with people who stumped me with their brilliance as well as people who were nothing but a pain in the neck for everyone. That made me ponder –
Is the quality of our work connected somehow with our self-esteem?
What I observed was – Some of the winners were outwardly quite shy and reserved. But when it came to doing their work – Gosh! Did they outshine the others! Through their dependable and solid personalities, these winners became irreplaceable in my team.
What they had was – oodles of self-belief.
What I have come to call – Quiet Self-Esteem.
Self-esteem is not an outward show of self-assuredness. It is an inner knowing of one’s own worth.
There are a few unique qualities that separate people with high esteem vs people with low self-esteem. They are:
1. Living by your values:
We all have core values that we live by. These values guide most of our everyday decisions – big or small. For example – honesty, integrity, courage, boldness, cunning, devotion etc. ( Please refer to the FREE resource on this blog – Value List. It contains the top 50 values that human beings hold dear. You can check the ones that you live by.)
A majority of us are not consciously aware of these values. And it is not as if 100% of our actions are according to our highest-held values.
Psychologists discovered that people who make maximum decisions of their life IN ACCORDANCE with their core values, had decidedly higher self-esteem in them.
We had an office boy once, by the name Chander. He went around telling everyone how committed he was to his family. It was obvious, he considered ‘caring and nurturing’ as his core values. But unfortunately, he struggled with his addiction to alcohol. Whenever Chander drank, he would turn into a foul-mouthed, wife beater. And the next day would see him as a totally destroyed person, full of shame and remorse. Chander’s actions were in exact opposition to his core values. Needless to say, people like Chander live with zero self-belief; and thereby, zero self-esteem.
2. Keeping your promises – to others & to self:
Whenever we make a promise to someone or a promise to ourselves, there’s a part of us which is constantly watching us – evaluating us, as to whether we are keeping our promise or not. There’s no running away from this hidden watchful part of us.
Why do alcoholics who fail to quit drinking despite promising themselves, feel like shit? Same way, why do those who know that they have failed to deliver their promised share of office work, feel miserable inside (even though others may not notice it)?
Because the Inner Silent Watchful Evaluator (ISWE) inside each one of us, knows everything. There’s no escaping it. No hiding from it.
When we keep our promises, we earn brownie points in our own eyes. And in the eyes of others as well. That elevates our esteem in our eyes. Every pat on the back that we give to ourselves, is a stepping stone towards high self-esteem.
3. Keeping realistic expectations – from others & from self
Setting too high standards for your own self is as bad as for others. We are all humans. And not always able to meet the goals that we set for ourselves. Just as others often fail to meet the goals that we set for them. Mistakes are bound to happen.
And more often than not, even if we forgive others, we tend to be quite harsh on our own selves.
Allowing space in our hearts for mistakes – whether made unintentionally by other people or the ones that we make, is very important for having healthy self-esteem. Unnecessary harsh criticism, blaming and fault-finding is a sure-shot relationship killer.
Doing that to others spoils our relationship with them and doing that to ourselves, spoils our relationship with our own self. And ultimately brings down our self-esteem.
4. Stepping outside the comfort zone
Oxford dictionary defines comfort zone as – ‘a settled method of working that requires little effort and yields only barely acceptable results’.
We are born to fly, not crawl.
Our comfort zone is the area within which we force ourselves to crawl. In order to fly, we have to step out of our comfort zone. And who said stepping out of our comfort zone was easy?
But then warriors and bravehearts are not scared of difficulties. Everytime we do something unfamiliar, something that is difficult but in accordance with our core values, we elevate ourselves in our eyes.
Our soul longs to expand. We yearn for new learnings. We want newer experiences everyday. That is the basic nature of all humans.
Unfortunately, fear tends to chain our basic nature of expansion.
We fear the backlash of society.
We fear upsetting our family.
We fear toppling the set norms of our tribe/ culture/ religion.
We fear we may fail and people may laugh at us.
We fear falling and not being able to get up.
We fear hurting our loved ones.
Also, when we act in order to conform, out of a false sense of belongingness, our ISWE (Inner Silent Watchful Evaluator) knows that to be cowardice. We deprive ourselves of our birthright – to expand our human life experiences.
At work, this may translate into –
Not attempting to learn new skills,
Shying away from works that may put you into limelight,
Not taking on additional responsibilities and
Resistance to change – inner and outer.
All acts of self-deprivation that have their roots in fear lead to low self-esteem. And unhappiness. It doesn’t matter what excuse we may hide behind.
Your Key Takeaways:
Self-esteem is deep work. It requires diving into the unknown and the unfamiliar. And coming up with hands full of pearls and hidden treasures.
Are these aforementioned 4 qualities the only ones required for high self-esteem at work? No. There are many more. But for starters, these 4 are excellent for setting us on the right track.
- Do not mistake smugness with self-esteem. You may be quiet and reserved and still have a high level of self-esteem.
- There is an ISWE (Inner Silent Watchful Evaluator) within each of us. And you cannot lie to it.
- Live as much as possible according to your core values.
- Being overly critical of yourself or of others brings down your self-esteem.
- Keeping your promises is a sure winner. And that includes the promises that you make to yourself.
- Be your own biggest supporter in stepping out of your comfort zone. Be your own cheerleader.