Self Esteem and Success
Self-esteem is how a person views or feels in relation to their overall sense of self-worth or personal value.
Low self esteem develops over time and the catalyst for your feeling of lack of self worth may even be linked to something that was said to you by a teacher, a parent or your peers.
I recall talking to a person some time ago who told me that they were as thick as a brick. When I eventually got to the bottom of why they said that it transpired that when they were at school they were asked to read something out to the class for the first time in their school career. Feeling nervous the child faltered on a couple of words and froze.
The teacher’s response to this was to say that they were as ‘thick as a brick’. This embarrassed the child which was enhanced by their classmates laughing and from that day on this young child was teased for being as ‘thick as a brick’.
The Story We Tell Ourselves
Because the child believed they were as thick as a brick (which must be true if a teacher says so) they kept repeating the phrase in their own head. Add to this the other children at school repeating that very same saying to the child and you now have a more permanent belief taking place in the neurological networks in the child brain.
This is known as ‘Hebbian Associative Learning’ or in other words: ‘neurons that wire together fire together’ and the more you repeat or hear the same narrative the larger the network becomes making the belief more permanent inside a child’s mind.
So if you feel that you are worthless, that good things never happen to you, or you were born in poverty or you’ve been told all of your life that you will never amount to anything by your parents or teachers and you replay that story repeatedly inside your head, day after day, guess what? You create low self-esteem.
And people who have low self-esteem focus on loss and fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of change, fear of failure and sometimes even fear of success and it is this that stops them taking the right kind of action to change their lives.
Lets face it, you and I know lots of people who have been on training courses who still fail to take action and in some cases it’s the training course itself that exaggerates the problem.
Are Self Esteem And Self Confidence The Same?
The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often combined into the same meaning, when they are actually two very different things.
Self-confidence is, in general, a measure of a person’s faith in their own ability to do something, whereas self-esteem is about how we feel about ourselves backed by what we believe about ourselves.
For example, someone can have the confidence in their ability to do something, but have a feeling of low self-esteem with regards to how they feel about themselves.
Take a mother for example who gave birth to and looks after her children, manages a home, juggles the finances and budgets (in my experience the woman is far better at this than the man) and does it all with extreme confidence. But ask that same woman to stand up in front of a crowd of people and give a talk and fear and dread takes over. They remember being mocked at school or being reprimanded by a teacher or a parent and low self-esteem kicks in. They feel a lack of worth because of some out-dated story they were told many years ago.
These people (generally) make very good employees because they will do what they are told to do (sometimes underpinned by a fear of getting it wrong) but never go for promotion because they fear what others may think about them.
Why Self Esteem Is Important
Self esteem is important because it is the first step on the ladder to success and as Zig Ziglar said:
“The most important opinion you have is the opinion you have of yourself”.
You see you cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you feel about yourself. Therefore, if you wish to perform at the highest level in any area of your life, the starting block is your self-esteem, your feeling of self-worth.
Now self-worth has to do with what you believe about yourself. So if you don’t believe that you are worth something you are back down at the bottom of the ladder.
Can Self Esteem Be Changed
The good news is that the answer to that is a resounding YES!
If you change the story you choose to tell yourself (and not the words “choose to tell yourself” because that’s what you are doing) then you will change what you choose to believe.
And if you change what you believe about yourself you change your self-esteem. This will literally change your life.
The scientific evidence backs this up too. Remember I spoke about ‘Hebbian Associative Learning’ or in other words: ‘neurons that wire together fire together’ and the more you repeat or hear the same narrative the larger the network becomes making the belief more permanent inside a child’s mind.
Well the good news is that if you start to tell yourself a new story you build new networks and if you stop repeating the old story those networks shink. So you can literally rewire your brian.
Why Self-Esteem Is Important for The Mental Health of Employees
Self esteem is very important for the mental health of your employees.
Because self-esteem is the starting point for any improvement it’s going to affect the way that your employees form and develop relationships with each other and your prospects and customers.
Without good self esteem how can you expect employees to set and meet targets and goals if they feel a lack of self-worth?
Self esteem is also an important aspect in relation to an employee’s attitude towards what they do (which is more important than their aptitude) and that will affect the way they approach their work in terms of how much of a productive, efficient and effective member of the workforce they are.
Imagine for a moment a sales person whose job it is to sell a product who doesn’t feel that they are worthy of being a great salesperson. Imagine a teacher who lacks self-worth whose every word leaves an impression on a young child’s mind and the lifelong consequences of those impressions. Imagine a social worker or probation officer who’s self worth is so low or damaged that they just do the minimum necessary to get their pay.
People like this end up burnt out, which is possibly one reason why we are experiencing a recession.
But right now there has never been a more important time to serve at a higher level. As we slowly begin to come out of covid the world economy needs boosting and this can only be achieved by a productive workforce and to get a productive workforce we need employees with high self esteem.
But I’m not In Sales!
Yes you are. Everyone is selling something. If you are an information marketer you are selling information. If you are in a job you are selling your time for money. If you want promotion you are in the business of selling your ability for promotion. If you are a church leader or member of any faith or spiritual movement you are in the business of selling your belief to yourself and others. If not your faith will never survive (maybe this is why so many churches are struggling to find new members). If you fall in love with someone you are in the business of selling yourself to them in the hope that they will reciprocate your love.
We are all in the business of sales whether we like it or not and how well you do in your job, faith, relationships
Self Esteem and Stress Management – An ‘Interesting’ Story
Many years ago I was asked by a large corporate body to look at their stress management processes, because they had encountered a problem whilst following Health & Safety guidelines on how to manage stress in the workplace.
As part of the process they had undertaken a survey of their staff to find out what the current level of stress was that their staff were experiencing whilst at work. In short the staff were asked if they experienced ‘stress’ at work. Astoundingly a very high percentage of them replied ‘Yes’. They were experiencing stress in the workplace.
Step two of the process. Find someone to talk to them about stress. So, now that they had identified that a high percentage of their staff were ‘stressed’ they needed to do something about it. So the organisation put on a series of training events to teach the staff about what stress was.
The training was run by a person who had experienced stress which had resulted in it affecting his health to the extent that he had a complete breakdown. As a result he ended up leaving his job or losing his business (I can’t remember specifically which it was), his relationship suffered and his wife divorced him and now this poor guy was standing in front of a room full of people telling them his story that; according to him, was all down to stress!
Well it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see what was going on in the minds of those who were on the course. It was something like this: “I’ve identified as being stressed at work, that happened to this guy, and if that’s what stress does that’s probably going to happen to me too!”
The net result was that the organisation started seeing a dramatic increase in staff going off sick with ‘stress’. It was the human resources departments worst nightmare.
But the company was perplexed. What do we do now? We’ve followed what the guidance has told us to do and now we have a bigger problem than what we started with!
The company also had another problem. It was left with les staff with bigger workloads with more pressure on the management team to get results from an already overburdened workforce.
That’s When They Met Me
This is where I came into the story. I was approached by the management team to see if I could help. They had heard that ‘there was this guy who talks about the mind and quantum mechanics and other weird stuff, but he gets results’.
I was asked what I could do to help them and my answer was ‘I don’t know, but let’s go and find out’.
This confused them because they were expecting me to produce a nicely structured training proposal with clear aims, learning outcomes and objectives.
“What do you mean I don’t know, but let’s go and find out” I was asked? So I told them that they had tried a structured approach and the net result was they ended up with a bigger problem then what they started with because any pre-produced agenda is presumptively biased.
It presumes that the trainer knows what the staff need without having met them. So I proposed we did the following. I asked them to let me have free reign to run three courses and that by the end of the three courses I’d give them not only feedback on what they needed to address as an organisation, but also a more structured training programme that would have been developed in collaboration with myself and their staff (and we all know that if staff feel part of the process they develop a sense of ownership of it too, which is good for the self esteem).
I also told them to send me those staff who were suffering the most because if I could make a difference for them what we’d be doing moving forward must make a difference to everyone else.
So the challenge was set and it went very well as the following feedback shows:
The following email is from a woman who was extremely nervous about giving a presentation to the Service’s Board members. I personally spent an extra hour working with her after the course to help her. Her e-mail post the course is below followed by other testimonials to give you an idea of how powerful this concept is:
Just to fill you in – I was one of the women you worked with after the Personal Change Management Course (company name withheld) on 24th October in Preston. I haven’t yet done a presentation but I had to feedback to our Chief Officer, Board Members and some of our senior management team on some research I had undertaken. I just wanted you to know that I didn’t feel one bit nervous!! A massive development for me! I have also since passed on the course information to my dad, who can be a very negative thinker and he has started to look at things more positively and said “its been like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for all your advice – definitely a life changing course which I would love to do again.”
[Name and contact details withheld]
“I attended the above course yesterday and I wanted to let you know that it was one of the best courses I’ve been on and I for one will definitely benefit from it. I do think though that it should be mandatory for all staff.
The principle of the course was to show that we are all responsible for our own thoughts and feelings and to blame outside “forces”( e.g. the Service) for being in a stressed out state means we’re not managing ourselves – rather simplistic way of putting it but you get the drift!! Anyway, as we only completed the questionnaire provided by the company who is running the course (rather than the Service’s in-house one), I thought it important to contact you and share my views. I know the rest of my colleagues in yesterday’s group also felt it would benefit a lot of staff at all levels if this course was made mandatory.
I just wanted to let you know that C has been singing the praises of the training yesterday. If you know C you will know that in itself is an achievement! Both her and H are of the opinion that this is the best training the service has ever put on, and that everyone should attend.
I have already given the course rave reviews to all and sundry at the Blackpool office. My main comment being that I can’t believe the service shelled out the cash for such a worthwhile course and professional consultant!!”
[Name and contact details withheld]
Feedback has been positive, and thanks for agreeing to have my team on the training course. My staff informed me that it was very useful + helpful. When I resumed here, as you may be aware, the team was doing very poorly and morale was very low. Most members remarked that they had grown to be “defensive, anxious, subscribed to the culture of negativity” and majority were considering leaving. However, after undertaking the training course, staff became more able to challenge their negative feelings, became more responsible for their work and actually put in effort to overturn our shortcomings in terms of performance.
The team now experiences good health, staff feel comfortable to express views within a safe environment and our performance has greatly improved. I am personally enjoying work and as I said to you I love my team because of their ability to make use of such opportunity.
Once again, thanks and I would recommend the course for all staff.”
After Monday’s really excellent, thought-provoking course, I just wanted to give you some feedback now that all the information has had time to sink in.
The positive effects already for me are that I have changed three long-ingrained personal habits (in fact one was virtually an OCD issue). I’ve been regularly doing the breathing exercise at various intervals each day.
In terms of my own learning, the key things were the Breathing Exercise; the effects of words on water ie on us (largely being made of water); telling people what they can do, not what they can’t do; that happiness has a beneficial effect on the body; visualisation, re-framing bad memories etc. I also found the discussions about the brain fascinating, particularly the pharmaceutical production centre (hypothalamus) and how we become addicted to our emotions.
Having just completed the Post-Graduate Diploma in Change Management, I have to say that this was the perfect sort of course for me.
I am writing for two reasons, firstly to thank you for a superb seminar on Quantum Thinking, but also to let you know the positive effect the day & information provided has had, not only on me but my family and friends.
That said, I have to admit that on the day, just before the start of the course, I was sceptical!
Of course I understood that the brain works on a programmable basis and is responsible for our attitudes & responses to life situations, having understood that, it follows that what has been learnt on a conscious or subconscious level can be changed or modified. However I was not prepared for the impact that the day was going to have on me personally.
I listened to your introduction, delivered with enthusiasm, sincerity, where you explained the principles & most importantly the simplicity & speed with which changes could be effected in the brain, it all seemed too good to be true…. Surely one day can’t change your life!
Having known you & your work far many years now, and knowing that you do not & never have recommended anything that you do not believe in or have not researched thoroughly, I put aside my “cynicism”.
Just as well I did!
I consider myself to be a semi intelligent person, not given to “flights of fancy” or “pie in the sky” ideas but none the less open-minded.
The concept & explanations offered were so simple & straightforward that my mind was racing & actually looking for a more complicated structure to it all.
I know that is a contradiction in terms, but it illustrates perfectly part of my own “belief system” that “everything in life is complicated” & “nothing is easy”. By the way after having digested the information and tried out the techniques taught, I no longer think that way, so one up straight away for Quantum Thinking.
On a very personal level, I have to say that, in common with most people in the world today, the general problems we encounter in life had taken it’s toll on me. My self-confidence & self-image had taken a real beating, particularly over the last ten years or so. Ten years, that’s a long time to be unhappy, isn’t it?
I constantly lived in the past, going over old ground & fretting over things that happened years ago.
I kept looking for explanations as to why my life had taken “the wrong road” from an emotional point of view.
I wondered why I was not as productive & creative in the business world as I once had been
I had considered myself a failure in many areas of my life, although to everyone else I seemed happy, confident & capable.
I had put on a lot of weight through overindulging in the wrong foods & alcohol.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
When I started implementing the ideas you had recommended, it is true to say that my whole world changed.
I don’t live in the past, I live in the now. I still look at the past, but with a different attitude.
I am virtually worry free, although the same problems exist, I don’t focus on the problem anymore, I focus on the solution.
My creativity has returned with a vengeance & I have recently finished writing a one-day course for Cabaret Performers. This I had been promising to do for months! This is due to my confidence & creative side returning.
As a result of an improved self-image I have changed my eating & drinking habits, take regular exercise & lost over a stone in weight (which incidentally takes to almost to the same weight I was in my early twenties, I am FIFTY ONE NOW!)
My confidence in my own abilities has returned & improved my business & therefore my income
Mark, I could go on & on, but this illustrates some of the changes that modifying my thinking & “reprogramming” my brain has brought about.
I wholeheartedly believe that the Quantum Thinking Programme is so powerful that it is almost scary to see what can be achieved in a short space of time & indeed where it will lead me in the future. But it can only be for the good.
My home life & relationships have improved because I have changed… WOW.
So convinced am I of the effectiveness of this, I have passed on your course notes to family & friends who I felt would benefit from this. I told them only to read the material; I did not try to force my experiences on them as a way of justifying why they should read it.
As a result of this:
Two of my relations who have suffered form long-term depression have managed to “step down” their medication.
And a friend of mine who has a “constant & debilitating” fear of issues relating to his health has turned the corner & no longer carries this burden with him.
This is just from reading the course notes! Think how much they could achieve with a session with you or attending the one-day seminar!
I have already begun to research this whole subject thoroughly using your seminar & notes as my cornerstone.
It is my intention to try and bring this “concept” to as many people as possible, BECAUSE IT WORKS.
Once again Mark many thanks, these ideas should be taught in schools, the benefits to the individual & society in general would be immense.”
I stopped running these courses a few years ago, but after a number of requests from people to start them up again I am considering doing so.
Therefore, if you would like to speak to me in person about attending this type of course or running an event in house for your employees or if you would like me to be a keynote speaker at one of your events in relation to this subject simply drop me an email.
PS: You may also enjoy this blog post – ‘Success Is a State of Mind‘