Building Self-Esteem



(Insecurity and the Path to Self-Confidence, Part 4)

Improving self-confidence means rethinking how you judge both successes and failures. You are not “only as good as your last victory” nor “as bad as your last defeat”! 

Here’s our 3-step guide to begin the path to building better self-esteem: 

1. Catalog Your Successes 

Comparing yourself to others is ultimately fruitless, and discounts the greatest value that you bring to a situation: your uniqueness. Capitalizing on this uniqueness is what leaders do best. When you think about your life thus far, what are the things you have accomplished? It is important to neither evaluate nor judge your accomplishments, simply list them. Success can be in the following areas:

  • Relationships: Include friends, family, etc.
  • Education: Include formal school and non-formal learning.
  • Career: Include all jobs that you have had and your contributions.
  • Values: What beliefs are you proud to hold?
  • Personal: What has contributed to who you are (for example, participation in sports, arts, clubs, special interests)? 

Take a few minutes to make a list. The goal of cataloging your distinctly personal experiences is to recognize the successes and achievements that have made you the unique person you are. The real challenge is to claim these! When you reflect on the fact that you begin life with a blank slate, what you have achieved is considerable. 

This exercise is a valuable tool for reinforcing your self-confidence. You have already achieved wonderful things, overcome many obstacles, and have the potential to do more in the future.

2. Focus on the Present 

The mind can only focus optimally on one thing at a time. Being in the moment is central to achieving focus. The ability to apply laser focus to problem solving in the midst of routine work and unforeseen challenges is a hallmark of confident people. 

Anxiety comes when we are distracted by what we have done in the past or wonder what the future may hold. Present-based anxiety only occurs in the face of looming danger, which is very rare! 

To achieve this flow, it is essential to push away anxieties based in the past or planted for the future. Although such thoughts will likely occur, make an effort to let them float away. 

3. Accept Yourself 

An often overlooked aspect of self-esteem involves coming to terms with your own limits. Just as we all have our unique strengths and talents, we are also flawed in some areas. 

Operating on the basis that one should be perfect at everything is a recipe for lifelong misery. Self-acceptance of our gifts and limitations leads to authentic competence and peace of mind. 

Further, change comes in fits and starts. Sometimes the changes we make are easy and require little effort. However, increasing self-confidence is not easy work. It requires courage, persistence, and the ability to treat yourself kindly when (not if) you slip up. 

Bouts of insecurity plague everyone. But the anxiety that stems from insecurity is not in and of itself a detriment to success or happiness. It is the ways in which we choose to react to these insecurities that define us. 

The most successful leaders have learned how to control their insecurities, rather than letting their insecurities control them. The good news? Self-confidence is a practice that can be learned.

THE TAKEAWAY: Building self-esteem is a long process. By cataloging your successes and focusing on the present, you can begin the journey toward a healthier self-image. 

To read more about our take on self-esteem, leadership, and building high-performing teams, order the DNA of Leadership today.