Why we all need to know about the six pillars of self-esteem

self-esteem

Nathaniel Branden, the leading self-esteem psychologist, neatly wraps up what he defines as the foundations of self-esteem in his best selling book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. 

Self-esteem is not just about how to become successful in the business world or ace networking. Self-esteem is one of the most important parts of living a fulfilled and happy life. Regardless of your material achievements or assets, if your mind is unfulfilled, you can never feel happiness.

Branden explains how there are two limbs of self-esteem. First, there is self-efficacy, which describes the basic confidence telling us that we can “handle” certain situations. The second part of self-esteem is self-respect. This is a sense of being worthy of happiness and joy. The second limb is the most interesting as it is often overlooked in our confidence pursuits.

The six pillars of self-esteem

Live consciously

Self-awareness is always the first step to improvement. When we start to become aware of our thoughts and behavior we can asses our actions. The best way to understand if our self-esteem (or lack of), is influencing our actions is to asses whether our decisions are fact-based or emotions based. For example, am I deciding to not speaking at this meeting because I feel insecure or because I have nothing valuable to add? You must then correct your behavior if necessary.

Self-acceptance

This is closely linked to self-respect. Whilst we might not be able to “choose” to be self-confident for factual reasons, such as lack of experience, we can “choose” to accept ourselves. Instead of berating ourselves for not having the high stands we want, we can choose to value ourselves and treat ourselves with respect. Accepting is not judging or disliking. Accepting does not mean we are stuck in a situation, in fact, the contrary, it means we are respecting our journey to success.

Acceptance creates the important space we need to grow and self-develop. If we allow ourselves to be who we truly are, we don’t seek the approval of others. At this moment, it’s okay to just be us. We acknowledge the important fact that it can be changed in the future but right now accepting ourselves is the most important part.

Self-responsibility

If we want self-esteem, we have to stop seeing ourselves as victims. Our future is in our hands. Until we acknowledge that we control our own reality we won’t be motivated to work on our self-esteem – because it greatly influences how we enjoy our lives. Nobody else can give us what we internally need to be fulfilled, this mindset can lead to misery. Other people only have as much control over us as we give them. “Concentrate on what is in your circle of influence and neglect what lies outside of it” are words to live by. Things inside our circle of influence include our response to situations, the way we self-care and how we try to self-develop.

Self-assertiveness

Self-assertiveness is a skewed concept from assertiveness, in that it is not about negotiating and gaining, it is more about owning who we are and demanding what we deserve as a person. “Honor your needs and wants. Live and express your values“.

Live purposefully

Live with a goal in mind. Aimless wander leads to incoherence and feelings of a lack of purpose in life. When we live with a goal in mind, we don’t waste time on things irrelevant to our wants. Instead, we can be efficient high-achievers always striving for the prize.

Furthermore, it’s important to choose a specific goal, not just “I will do my best”.

Give it metrics, numbers, times and a finishing date. It is important to be able to measure your progress. Only by making the progress measurable will we be able to tracks results and adjust our actions accordingly.

Personal Integrity

Two key quotes from this book perfectly encapsulate this pillar “Always make sure that your behaviors are congruent to your values”, and “be honest, as everything else is disrespectful to yourself.”

When our behavior is in line with our values, we gain more self-esteem as we can rely on ourselves to take care of our needs and wants. We stop doubting ourselves and start leading ourselves. This might lead to situations where we face the aversion of others but so long as we are true to ourselves and act authentically to our values we can be sure to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

The four agreements that will forever change your world

four agreements

The Four Agreements is a global best selling book by Don Miguel Ruiz. It draws on the traditions of the ancient, indigenous people of Mexico named the Toltecs. By studying their fascinating and perceptive way of life, Ruiz concluded that present society lives within self-imposed limits and are “domesticated from childhood”, he highlights how these internal rules make people miserable and suggests four agreements that people can make, with themselves, to break free from restrictions and truly live a happy and conscious life.

Think about it, as children we accepted our own names, without choice. So, what else have we adopted that we don’t even realize? Ruiz discovered through his studies of this wise Mexican tribe that the biggest human fear is not death but instead to be alive. The biggest fear we have is taking the risk to be alive–the risk to truly express who we are. We have learned, from birth, to live our lives in accordance with other people’s demands. We have learned to live life, in line with principles we didn’t create, through fear of not being accepted.

The four principles are not profound and we have undoubtedly heard them at least once in our lives. They are drawn on by Ruiz because they are the four areas, most over-analyzed and typically misunderstood by society. It is Ruiz’s belief that by respecting these four simple mottos we eliminate man-made limitations and live our happiest lives.

The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be impeccable with your word

This really means that a person is only as good as their word. It is our most powerful tool as a human and in essence, separates us from navigating the world like animals. Recognize the power of your words in the world around you. Don’t use the power of your words to encourage or spread gossip, it only attracts negative energy into your own life.

Impeccability means without sin. A sin is anything you do which goes against yourself. So mind how you speak with yourself and never do yourself harm with your words.

2. Don’t take anything personally

Thinking that everything is about you, is the maximum expression of selfishness. Nothing other people do is because of you. Any negative words or emotions from others, towards you, is simply a projection of their own reality and not a projection of you or your characteristics. Once you understand this very simple concept you avoid many upsets in your life. To really appreciate this concept you must be confident in yourself and know who you are as a person. This way the words of others can’t turn your world upside down.

3. Don’t make assumptions

When you make assumptions you invite problems into your life. You create and believe a false reality and this creates drama around you. You have a duty to yourself and others, to communicate with utmost clarity. If you don’t understand something you must ask for clarity, instead of making assumptions. By doing this you avoid misunderstandings, sadness, mistakes and the break down of relationships with others. With just this one agreement you can totally transform your life.

4. Always do your best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment, for example, you won’t have the same productivity output in bad health. If under any circumstance you just do your best, you can avoid sadness, self-abuse, and regret.

 

5 proven ways to boost your knowledge retention now

retention

It’s scary to think we waste hours, absorbing new information just to forget it minutes later. What’s the point of learning if we don’t practice knowledge retention? Luckily, there are 5 scientifically proven ways to beat this ubiquitous knowledge retention issue, many of us face, on a daily basis.

Why we struggle with knowledge retention

Before we can meaningfully apply these retention strategies it’s important to understand why our brain forgets new knowledge. This can be explained in two simple points:

1. Our brains get stuck at the first hurdle

When we read a book or listen to a presentation we can miss up to 3 or 4 concepts in just the first few minutes. This is because the brain gets stuck at the first new concept/obstacle. It then tries to apply the new concept but fails. And if you continue to read the book or listen to the speaker. The brain is still focused on the first point and fails to absorb all of the new points, even if you hear them, they don’t get retained. And of course, without complete information, you have ‘incomplete information’.

2. We need to make the mistake, ourselves

No matter how good the explanation and how well you feel you understand the concept. You won’t really grasp or retain the concept until you make a mistake when implementing it. This is because your interpretation will vary from the actual meaning the writer/speaker intends to communicate. You’ve only interpreted what they’ve said, and more often than not, the interpretation is not quite correct. You can only find out how far off the mark you are by trying to implement the concept.

How we best retain knowledge

Some interesting stats about how different learning processes influence our retention.

We retain;

  • 90% of knowledge when we teach someone else/practically apply it, immediately after learning.
  • 75% of knowledge when we practically apply it.
  • 50% of knowledge when we engage in a group discussion.
  • 30% of knowledge when we see a demonstration.
  • 20% of knowledge from audio-visual.
  • 10% of knowledge from reading.
  • 5% of knowledge from lectures.

Read more about the stats here.

Interesting stuff but how we can try to retain more when we are forced to rely on things such as books and presentations? Here are 5 scientifically proven ways to encourage your knowledge retention, even if the learning process is statistically against you!

5 tips to boost knowledge retention

1)Ask yourself questions about the new material

If you are reading a textbook, this can simply be what is the main point of this section?

What are the key discussion points?

Try to answer these questions as you read along the text. Writing the questions and answers down is even more helpful.

2) Engage in reflective learning 

Similar to the above point but more practically focused. When learning new materials you should be constantly be asking yourself “How can I immediately apply what I just learned?” If you focus on how to immediately apply the knowledge to your current job, it will increase retention and positively influence performance/deliverables in a big way.

3) Skim material

The idea here is to skim-read material first and pick up on keywords and concepts that you’ll be covering. This way when you read the material, properly, your brain knows what to expect. And you can organize the new information into your pre-learned headings.

4) Relate new material to what you already know 

In one study, participants who were provided with relevant context linking to previous knowledge, before listening to prose passages were better at knowledge recall later than those who had received no context before.

You can add context for new material as you are learning it, or you can prepare and spend some time thinking about what you already know about the topic before you begin studying.

5) Visualization 

You can connect the new information to visuals in various ways. For example, you can imagine that you are having a conversation with a friend about the new information, you can visualize a story about or even better, you can vizualize practically applying the new information.

 

What’s the one thing you are going to do after reading this blog? Try applying one of the retention techniques and I bet you will retain more from this blog, than most things you have read today.

 

10 ways to influence how we are perceived

perceived

Who we believe we are and how others perceive us, can often be two distinct concepts.

We can never be a fly on the wall to our own personality but we can have a little more control over the self-image we project.

I’m not saying we should be anyone but ourselves, however, by incorporating a few simple tips, we can be perceived in a manner more consistent with who we believe we are.

1. Head high, shoulders back

Whilst the temptation to hunch may be strong, refrain from doing it, it’s terrible for our posture and it strongly communicates that we lack self-confidence. Is this really how we want to be perceived? Pushed back our shoulders makes us appear taller. It’s a power stance that conveys confidence.

2. Make eye contact

Avoidance of eye contact communicates lack of confidence, even deception. It might be difficult to hold eye contact if you’re not used to it. However it’s worth developing this skill, it’s crucial to building trust. Plus, the mental process of looking at people in the eye, naturally makes us feel more confident. We spend less time feeling intimidated and more time focused on the words we are exchanging. Try it out and see how it adds value to your conversations.

3. Ask questions

People love talking about themselves, it makes them feel good. So, if you’re the question master, they will naturally associate you with good feelings. You don’t need to become a detective and interrogate everyone you meet, in fact, quite the contrary, a few simple questions (with a few follows up to show genuine interest) and people will instantly start to like you.

4. Relax your body

If a situation makes us feel uncomfortable, our natural (often subconscious reaction) is to tense up. This isn’t a good look, it makes us appear guarded, unapproachable and perceived as, “highly strung”. I’m certain this isn’t how anyone wants to come across and luckily it can be avoided by simply remembering to physically, relax our body. Make a habit of asking, “is my body tensed, right now?”. Relaxed bodies are perceived by others as confident.

5. Postive self-talk

Perceptions run deeper than just appearances. If we are given a task at work and our norm, is to talk ourselves down, such as, “you can’t do this”, everything we do communicates this to others. People will see our fear and this undermines our competence, regardless of our actual competence. What might not be obvious to us, is SO obvious to others. People can smell self-believe! Well, not actually but, we can’t be aware of all the subtleties we give off when we self-doubt, there is just too many. Instead, a better way to manage, this negative perception is to eliminate our self doubt through positive self talk. Instead of “I can’t”, change to positive affirmations such as “I can” or, “I’ll do my best”. It sounds simple because it really is and it makes the world of difference to your own self-perception.

6. Be kind

Give off positive vibes. Of course, people are going to gravitate towards you, if you smile more than you frown. It’s also nice to be nice! If you don’t want to walk around with a smile plastered across your face all day, then maybe you can focus on your eyes, or be supportive to co-workers when you think they need it most. There’s more than one way to be kind and being perceived as a kind person should be a high priority on anyone’s list.

7. Listen

People will remember whether or not you really listened to them. Listening is not being silent and mentally preparing what you’re going to say next. It’s being focused on the other person and actually absorbing their words. It feels different. People who have mastered listening find it easier to make new connections and build trust in those around them.

8. Fill a room

When we feel intimidated it’s natural to shrink, cross our arms or legs and take up less room. However, simply the act of taking up more physical space (“power posing”), standing taller, stretching out arms or legs, sends confidence hormones to our brains, making us look and feel more confident. I’ve written extensively on the impact of power posing here.

9. Decide on your personal brand

How can you hope to influence your external perception if you don’t have a good idea of how you want to be perceived? Take the time to write down a list self-defining points. A few short positive statements of who you believe you are will suffice. Doing this helps to focus your energy on the right things in social situations.

10. Lead with charisma

The more comfortable you can be in any situation the better. Be your true self and laugh, yawn, stretch, dance – just do you. Research proves that energy is contagious. You can inspire even the most serious of execs to relax around you, if you radiate this kind of energy. Everyone is human after all.  Plus, you’ll hold a positive spot in their brain as a result.

10 skills mastered by the most successful

successful

Success can be measured in numerous ways.

Whether you relate success to happiness, independence or power there is no size fits all, it’s entirely subjective and depends on what you want from your life.

Saying that, success in an inside-out concept. Regardless of individual success definitions, those who attain their dreams, all master these 10 fundamental skills.

1. Communication 

Soft skills divide the average from the successful. Communication is an art, it takes time and dedication to be able to perform. Effective communication relies on the ability to understand, (on a high-level) both others and yourself. This degree of introspection isn’t easy, but it’s the key to being a naturally good communicator. Remember, we have to master our own thoughts before we can hope to understand and eventually influence the thoughts of others.

2. Awareness of thoughts 

Watch how you speak to yourself. Do you allow negative chat, such as “I can’t do this?” Or, “this is going to fail?”. If you don’t believe in yourself how can you that expect others will? Success requires confidence and unshakable belief in yourself. During your success journey, you will encounter people that don’t believe in you so you need to find confidence in yourself and not seek or rely on the approval of others.

3. Flexibility 

Steven Hawkings famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to embrace change”. It’s no wonder that the most successful remain flexible and embrace change. We live in a fast-paced world, we cannot predict or control external factors. The only thing we can do is remain flexible and adapt when necessary. This is what makes leaders and encourages others to trust in them. Change isn’t scary, it’s the future.

4. Make informed decisions

You have to master risk calculation in order to reach success. Without carefully reviewing the pros and cons of your choices you won’t be informed enough to make wise decisions. It’s a simple yet often overlooked process you should be applying to every decision.

5. Be honest with yourself 

The most successful objectively evaluate, everything. Don’t make career/business decisions if you feel they are emotionally influenced. Don’t paint a mistake in a less painful light. Be honest with yourself in every way. This will allow you to properly asses your progress and skills and importantly fully understand who you are.

6.Highly productive

Successful people manage to have a family, a love life, a social life and incredible careers. We all share the same hours. in our day, as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Opera and Beyoncé so what’s the difference? The key is using your time well. This doesn’t mean working incessantly but it means planning ahead so that you can have routine family breakfasts, meet deadlines and never forget an anniversary. Successful people don’t procrastinate they make every hour count.

7. Read everyday

The most successful read about their industry and more, for at least one hour every day. This helps them to stay on top, spot gaps and seize opportunities. You need to know everything there is to know about your field, in order to dominate it. Discussing the most important points of your industry findings or even writing about them, daily, helps you to really retain the knowledge.

8. Environment matters

Surround yourself with happy ambitious people. They will encourage and support you on your journey. You can also learn things you didn’t realize you needed to learn such as more efficient working styles, industry insights and much more. Co-working spaces are excellent if you’re just starting up. If you’re office based, try to create a supportive group of co-workers, who bring out your best side.

9. Learn from everyone

You can learn knowledge from everyone you meet – even 5-year-olds, I mean it! Those who are willing and open to the minds of others will learn valuable pockets of information that will assist them on their journey to success. Keep your mind open and respect the words of others. Further, treating everyone around you with respect helps you to build a circle of trust.

10. Cultivate and believe in gut feelings

You spend your time collecting experiences. You learn what’s good and what’s bad. You store your experiences in your “gut” and they become intuition. Your gut feeling can tell you if a person is genuine. It can tell you if you’re making a good decision and it can protect you from a variety of things based on your past experiences. Whilst objective, rational thinking is crucial – you’re gut feeling can tell you things that you can’t rationalize but is based on your past knowledge, so don’t disregard it.

Lifestyle habits that boost work productivity

productivity

Productivity is about taking control of your time. You hit your work goals and you enjoy your life, it’s about achieving the much lured after work/life/balance.

In order to take control of your day, there are some simple but effective lifestyle habits you can introduce. By gaining control of your days, you win hours, you can build a life you love and pursue your goals. Create your own win/win by incorporating these easy habits.

Productivity lifestyle habits

1.Write your to-do list before bed

Why? You know exactly what you need to do when you wake up, no time wasting, no forgetting, you can just get up and get on with it.

2. Wake up early

A simple but highly effective way to win hours. Make this extra time your competitive edge. Imagine waking up at 6 am and having at least two extra hours of productivity before you have to go anywhere. Just try it for a week and if it works for you, it won’t be difficult to make this part of your routine.

3. Exercise

Exercise is life. It gives you more energy, it gives you more determination and studies show that it makes you more productive.

As you age, your body generates fewer and fewer brain cells (a process called neurogenesis). However, early research in mice suggests that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. So, people who exercise might have more brain cells as they age, in comparison to their more sedentary peers, obviously giving them an advantage in the workplace.

In the short term, an exercise routine can give you more energy throughout the day. If you’re feeling fatigued and have the opportunity to go the gym, do it. For those of us with less flexible schedules, exercising in the morning, before your workday, can make the world of difference.

4. Write a productivity journal

Start to notice when you procrastinate and what triggers it. Note what time of the day you hit a slump and how best you overcome it. By being self-aware of how you reach “ultimate productivity” you can make the best of your days, every day.

5. Focus on hours, not goals

This not only makes more sense but it drives you to complete more work. I can’t go home until I finish this project, is more productive than, I can go home after working for eight hours, three of which may have involved heavy procrastination.

6. Don’t be afraid of productive breaks

You are not a machine, you cannot keep working until you feel confused or unmotivated. Taking just a 15-minute break can refresh your mind and make you so much more productive for the rest of the day.

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