Pick one word…

If you put a small value on yourself, rest assured the world will not raise the price…

If you have to pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

There are certain value judgements we make about ourselves and every aspect of our lives is impacted by the way we see ourselves. Zig Ziglar summarizes this well with his saying ” It is impossible to behave in a manner inconsistent with how we see ourselves. We can do very few things in a positive way if we feel negative about ourselves”.

A Low Self Esteem or Self Image is characterized by thoughts, feelings and self-talk  of inadequacy to face challenges, unworthy of love and respect, not entitled to happiness, fearing assertive thought, wants or needs and lacking self-confidence. This self esteem deficiency will limit you, no matter what other assets you possess.

We should not be too concerned about what others might think about us.  What we should be concerned about, is what we think of ourselves. Many people tend to live their lives according to what others believe about them. If the important people in their lives expect them to go nowhere, then that’s what they expect for themselves. If you are surrounded by people who believe in you, that’s fine, but what if you are surrounded by people who don’t believe in you? John Maxwell believes “The value we place on ourselves is usually the value others place on us”…and I experience and see it daily, not only for myself but many people around me.

Is there something we can do to build our self-image? Something practical that we can start doing immediately?

  1. Guard your self talk – Whether we like it our not, we have a running conversation with ourselves all day long. The nature of which is many times criticizing ourselves. Turn this voice around to a positive influence by encouraging yourself. In the book “The Answer”   John Assaraf explains that by the age that a person is 17 years old they have heard “No..You can’t” a 150 000 times. they have heard “Yes…you can” only 5000 times – that is 30 no’s for every yes. This makes for  a powerful
    belief of “I can’t” – hence the negative nature of the self talk.
  2. Stop Comparing yourself to others – Comparing your performance to others’ have two negative effects. Either you feel inferior and discouraged for not performing better or you perceive yourself to be better than the other person and become proud.  Neither of these feelings are good for us. You should compare yourself to you! The mission is to become better than what you were yesterday. Look back and compare the you of today with the you of yesterday, last week, last month or last year. This should encourage you.
  3. Add value to others – People with low self esteem, often see themselves as victims and feel inadequate. This leads to a huge focus on themselves, becoming self protective and selfish because they feel they have to survive. If this is something you have to overcome, start serving others and add value to them. Sounds a little counter-intuitive? Making a difference in the lives of others, even a small one, lifts one’s self esteem. It’s hard to feel bad about yourself when you are doing something good for someone else. Guess what – in addition to that, adding value to others, make them value you more. So the cycle of Value starts.

Awareness – the greatest agent for change…

“Authentic human interactions become impossible when you lose yourself in a role” 

Eckhart Tolle – the New Earth

In many instances, It does not matter how well you are prepared for a sales appointment, the customer chooses to deal or not to deal with you, within a few minutes of meeting you. Maybe even before you started talking business!

Could it be that people may not perceive us to be authentic in the relationship that we are trying to built? Don’t be too hard on yourself  if you think that it may be a possibility that they perceive you as playing a role.  We have been born into a society that specialize in Role assignment and self-definition. It started when tribal cultures started developing into ancient civilizations. As people fulfilled certain functions such as priest, warrior, farmer, merchant, labourer etc, that  function became their roles and determined their identity. They were eventually born into that role. Think about modern surnames such as “Bishop”, “Smith” & “Butler” that identify such medieval roles.

Social structures are less rigid nowadays,  but we are still being conditioned by our environment and our self defined roles. We allow our “function” to become our “role”.  To the extend that our roles (i.e colleague, customer, sales person, manager)  take over our true identity and we act out the requirements of that role unconsciously.   If we are “aware” enough when we interact with other people, we may detect the changes in our speech, attitude or behaviour, depending on who you are interacting with. The way we speak to the CEO of the company versus the cleaner or the way we speak to  a child versus an adult, indicates that we are acting out roles.

How can we be more authentic in our relationships? Especially with our clients, seeing that this is the topic of this post?

  1. Ensure that you are fulfilling a function (such as sales or admin) in line with your natural abilities and strengths. Natural gifting for a function in business or life, will make you play less of a “role” and be more authentic.
  2. Make it a question based interaction!  In order to separate you from the role as the all- knowing sales person with the selfish motivation, approach the conversation with genuine interest to help the client (or your colleague, or team member, or subordinate…)
  3. The aim of the questions should be to establish the goals and objectives of the other party…Such as “What do you hope to achieve? What will that mean to you? What will happen if the goal is not reached? How will that affect you? What is keeping you or standing in your way? What could you do about it? Where could I help or what options am I able to supply? “
  4. Be aware of your body language and what is “unsaid but communicated”. Most of all, be aware of your motivations in responses…Our ego tends to step forward and “defend” its identity when the answers are not in line with our opinion. Remember – Awareness is the greatest agent of change! Self-Change obviously…

Easy does it…

Ever had the thought – “How the hell did I land up here?” Chances are that it wasn’t a isolated decision that brought you to that place, but a series of choices. The power of the compound effect is invisibly at work in our lives, positively or negatively… We see it manifesting in our health, relationships, business results, finances, physical environment etc.

A practical example of the principle looks like this: If two friends both at the age of 24, decide to invest enough money per month to enable them to have an investment of R1 Million at the age of 65, they will have to invest R2000 per month to get to the R1 Million. One of them starts straight away and put his R2000 per month into a savings account at 12%. The other guy waited for 6 years before he starts to save. Did you know that even if the first friend stop investing after the first 6 years without making a single deposit more, he will have just over R1 Million at the age of 65- due to the power of compound interest? The little financial ball he started rolling, picked up huge momentum over time. And the second friend will have to invest R2000 per month until the age of 62 to achieve the same balance. The six years of procrastination has cost him 27 years more than his friend and R54 000 more invested, just to arrive at the same place.

Nobody drops dead from eating one unhealthy meal. It is the compound effect of eating unhealthy meals over a period of years that produces the bad health result in your body.

The sales team’s results and company income didn’t just stop in one month. It started a few months ago when you stopped or neglected the regular one-on-one coaching meeting, the prospecting, the team sales meeting, the team building workshop, giving recognition, paying out the incentive on time…and one fine day, the result shows! Seemingly like a bolt out of the blue. Really?

Jeff Olsen in his book, The Slight Edge, explains that “success is the progressive Realization of a worthy ideal”. “Progressive” meaning that success is a process, not a destination. Failure is just as gradual. The difference between success and failure is so subtle, we most times can’t see or recognize it during the process. The difference is dictated by small, critical choices that you make daily in line with the bigger objective you are pursuing. By the time you get the feedback – when the results show – the choices and the real work are history. At the time you made those choices, nobody noticed, but you.

This is exactly where the challenge for us lies: You alone are accountable for those choices. Hardly ever does someone stand over you shoulder and say:” Come on, get up now, you said you wanted to jog the 5km early today” or “Oh no! – are you really going to eat that? How will that affect your weight loss goal?” or ” Wouldn’t it be a good opportunity now to give him some feedback on his attitude during that meeting? – I know its tough and confrontational but it is the right thing to do for the team”

These small investments – actions – choices, are easy to do and as easy, not to do. The compound effect of doing them or not doing them, will, over a period of time, show in a result. That result is either success or failure.

Well, nothing changes until you move…

Time for another little choice. What am I going to do? As you could see from the first example of the R1 million saving, there is a cost to waiting. Think about the one Thing in your life that has the greatest effect on your mental, emotional and physical well being. The Thing, that if you could change it, will have the greatest beneficial effect. Break down the achievement of that goal into small, regular daily steps or actions..Easy to do, easy not to do. Start doing as “Easy does it!” The power of the compound effect will produce the result.

Face the Facts….

One of the things that we have to do in order  to move from where we are to where we want to be, is to face what is not working in our lives. We are in denial when we make excuses for the lack of energy, lack of income, sales on a downward trend, a deteriorating relationship or when we are not confronting an employee or colleague whose behaviour is detrimental to the team’s performance.

To face something that is not working in your life usually means you are going to have to do something uncomfortable. It means you may have to exercise more self discipline, risk not being liked, confront someone, ask for what you want, maybe say “no” to someone or demand respect in an abusive relationship.  When we don’t want to do these uncomfortable things, we defend and tolerate a  situation that does not work.  Making progress in your life, will take courage to face these situations head-on  and take action, no matter how challenging or uncomfortable it may be.

We possibly don’t even realise when we are in denial, hiding behind myths, widely accepted views and platitudes that sounds like these: ” It’s got nothing to do with me, It’s not my place to say, Don’t make waves, She’s just at that age, We just have to wait it out, I am sure he is going to pay it back” etc.

We will even make up reasons why something that is not working, is working! If we just acknowledge the bad situation sooner, it would often be less painful to resolve, be cheaper, more beneficial, the problems will be easier to solve, we would feel better about ourselves and we would have more integrity…BUT we have to get past our denial.

Charles Givens (Real Estate investment strategist) said: “Doing more of what doesn’t work, wont make it work any better”. Defending and justifying a bad situation is really just a form of denial.

Why then, if the benefits of fixing what is not working is so apparent, don’t we do the logic thing? “Often, denial is based on the notion that something even worse will happen when we stop denying and take action”, Jack Canfield explains in his book “The Success Principles“. In other words – we are afraid to face facts squarely.

Well, nothing changes until you make the first move…..

Make a list of what’s not working in your life. Think about the main areas of your life such as Business / Career, Finances, Relationships, Health and Appearance, Personal Growth. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is not working?
  • How can we improve it?
  • What requests can I make?
  • How can I help you?
  • What do I / We need to do?
  • What actions steps can I take to get each of these situations to work the way I would like.

Choose an action and do it! In the end, it does not matter what we know, believe or say..All that matters is what we do!