I have just come out of a Zoom meeting with 50 franchise field consultants where we explored how they can be as effective as possible in their work. One characteristic I have observed in high performing field consultants, and that enables them to quickly build credibility with others, is they are comfortable in their own skin. This is also a quality you will see in high functioning leaders and professional advisers. You could describe it as a sense of relaxed confidence that comes from having healthy self-esteem or self-worth.
Don't confuse this with egoism, which is actually driven by low self-worth. Having high self-worth is where we don't feel the need to prove ourselves, and it is one of the most valuable assets a person can have. While our upbringing does have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves, we can also build a robust sense of self-worth through our approach to life.
Thinking about the sage advice I have been given on this topic over the years, the following five habits come to mind. While these may seem old fashioned, they are actually based on timeless values which are backed up by robust psychological evidence. You will see they also spell something quite nice.
Service. The habit of assisting or supporting others is a practical and effective strategy for building self-worth. When we put effort into helping others, we feel better about ourselves and the world. Psychologists call this The Helpers High. This attitude of wanting to give rather than get, can also help to inoculate us against the ugly sense of entitlement that is so prevalent today.
Moderation. You may have heard of a famous marshmallow experiment where preschoolers who were better able to delay receiving a treat, showed higher self-worth, and a greater ability to cope with stress later in life. Practising self-discipline does have many physical and mental health benefits. Rather than make a big deal of this, there are many small ways each day we can build our sense of self mastery by holding back a little in what we say and do.
Integrity. A good definition of integrity is doing the right thing, even when it's not convenient or acknowledged by others. Consistently choosing to do the right thing not only builds self-worth and better relationships, it is also good for our peace of mind. As one of my teachers used to say, when you tell the truth you can relax because you don't need to remember your lies.
Learning. I have written a lot in previous tips about the benefits of a growth mindset. This could be summed up as striving to improve rather than prove ourselves. Each time we sincerely make an effort to seek feedback and learn how to become a wiser, better person, we also subconsiously add value to our sense of personal worth.
Excellence. My father and several of my teachers instilled in me the idea that striving for excellence has inherent value. This has brought me a lot of joy. Striving for excellence concentrates the mind, and delivers a feeling of personal satisfaction that is hard to beat. Knowing you have given a task your very best is indeed good for the soul. These five habits - Service, Moderation, Integrity, Learning and Excellence - spell SMILE. And I do believe they engender that natural smile which comes from being comfortable in one's own skin.
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