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Self-Esteem and Self-Sufficiency Are Urgent Economic Needs

By Karla Brandau

Once in a while you have to clean out your files. That is the mood I was in last week when I ran on a newspaper article I clipped several years ago by John Rosemond. The article was titled: Keeping a child happy can destroy self-esteem. I was intrigued a second time.

Rosemond, a family psychologist in Charlotte, North Carolina, stated that it is easy to keep a child happy by giving it everything it wants (like the keys to a new car) and that usually works until the child is 18 and ready to leave home...

"Keeping a child happy takes less effort, less stamina and certainly less courage than helping a child grow up. I guarantee that I can keep a child happy for 18 years. In the process, however, I will have no choice but to completely destroy the child's self-esteem," Rosemond wrote.

"Self-esteem, you see, is composed of equal parts initiative, resourcefulness, imagination, autonomy and determination. Self-esteem is the attitude of 'I can do it myself!' Such an attitude develops not as a result of parents constantly doing things for you, busying themselves in pursuit of your happiness, but as a result of parents who expect you to do for yourself, take responsibility for yourself and pursue your own happiness."
The article continued with Rosemond purporting that self-sufficiency or overcoming problems successfully is the key to high self-esteem even though the road to self-sufficiency is paved with frustration, tribulation, disappointment and other "unhappy" experiences.

As I contemplated Rosemond's wisdom, I realized the truth in this 700 word article and I applied the principles to myself. When I have a roadblock on my path to finishing a project or an assignment and I successfully find a way around the roadblock, I feel great about myself.

M. Scott Peck in his book, A Road Less Traveled, states that "it is through the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure."

Problems cause us to hone our courage and polish our self-esteem. Self-esteem is the essence of faith in yourself, belief that you can perform, knowledge that you are competent and that you can be brilliant when confronting problems.

Urgent Economic Need
The principles of self-esteem and self-sufficiency apply to the global marketplace we are operating in today. Our world is increasingly complex, challenging, and competitive. Accelerating technological breakthroughs change our world on a daily basis, presenting significant problems for organizations and individuals.

To deal with this complexity and the pace of change, every member of the organization from the executive suite down requires the ability to access deep inner resources of self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and a good dose of "humble" ego.

To me, "humble" ego is not the ego that drives you to step on others on the way to the top, but the ego that permits you to have confidence in your skills and your ability to tackle tough problems no matter how great the pain. It permits you to move in a supportive and encouraging way around the organization, asking for ideas, affirming suggestions and helping others to feel self-worth.

In the context of today's tough environment then, the building of self-esteem in employees is an urgent economic need. The leader with enough "humble ego" and personal self-esteem can permit initiative, resourcefulness, imagination, autonomy and determination to flourish among employees with huge economic benefits. Why? A group of people working together on a well defined problem will find answers, solve problems, and triumph even in our chaotic marketplace.

To summarize: To beat the economic blahs, beef up your self-esteem. If you do, the more likely you are to inspire colleagues and employees to follow your leadership and perform at their best. This will have positive effects on your profits.

Tips for Leaders
To build the self-esteem of your employees, remember to:

  1. Go beyond praise. Invite the person who gave an excellent performance to take the spotlight and tell how they achieved excellence.

  2. Set clear and unequivocal performance standards for quality of work and for meeting deadlines.

  3. Take the time to listen with your mind, your heart, and your eyes, enabling your employees to feel they are heard and respected for their ideas.

  4. Give more that corrective feedback when mistakes are made. Explore what went wrong and seek to prevention.

  5. Refrain from blaming while pointing out the consequences of undesirable behavior.

  6. Stretch your people. Give them tasks and projects that are slightly beyond their known capacity.

  7. Convey respect for differences of opinion and let people disagree with you without fear of retaliation.
Karla Brandau, Certified Speaking Professional, is a workplace consultant and an expert in leadership and professional development. She works with organizations who want to be competitive in the 21st century global marketplace. Sign up for her monthly newsletter, From the Desk of Karla Brandau by going to Karla Contact Karla at 770-923-0883 for a free consultation or to check the availability of dates to bring Karla to your organization.
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