What is the one question that has bugged you all your life?
Have you ever had a question that has bugged you for years? That you just couldn’t get out of your mind? And you didn’t know what the answer was?
I have. I’ve been bugged by one question for years: Why is it that some people accomplish so much more than others?
Well, I have finally found the answer to that question. So much so that I just signed a contract with a major publishing house last week on what I call The Champion’s Edge.
However, don’t go out and look for the book or try to buy it. I haven’t even written the book yet. I only have it outlined. And I’m also preparing a five-week on-line virtual course on the subject you can take with me this summer.
But I can tell you this. One of the elements that goes into The Champion’s Edge is an unshakeable self-esteem that will get you through anything and take you just about anywhere you want to go, personally and professionally.
And I can tell you how to get a piece of that unshakeable self-esteem right now.
► 1. Be yourself … your best self
One of my favorite movies is Forrest Gump. It’s filled with caring, character, and wisdom.
I was especially touched when Forrest was asked the biggest, most important question anyone can be asked. Someone asked him, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
Dumbfounded, Forrest replied, “Well, I’m going to be me, aren’t I?”
Great answer. Despite the fact that the world labeled him as “slow” or “retarded,” Forrest intuitively knew the importance of being himself. His best self. It’s a mark of a healthy self-esteem.
You see, if you have poor self-esteem, you’ll be tempted to be like somebody else. And that only leads to self-loathing because you can’t possibly like yourself if you don’t even want to be yourself or even try to be your best self.
Of course that doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Nobody is.
It doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t improve. Everybody needs to. Being yourself, being your best self is not the same as acting out in some gross, crude, or unprofessional manner and excusing it by saying, “That’s just the way I am. Take it or leave it.”
That’s not who you are! That’s nothing more than a stupid behavior choice you made … a choice that you yourself couldn’t respect. Instead, be yourself, your best self, and you will not only respect yourself more but take a big step towards an unshakeable self-esteem.
► 2. Like yourself – despite your imperfections.
Being yourself is the first step. The second step is liking yourself. And that’s not always easy.
After all, most commercials are intended to hurt your self-esteem. They want you to dislike yourself — enough — so you’ll buy their products. Their products promise to bring you beauty, wealth, and love … just for starters.
Forget that. At some point, you’ll have to decide to like yourself just the way you are. You’ll have to realize that you’re okay because God doesn’t make junk.
Put another way, you need the courage to be imperfect. You see anyone can like himself if he is perfect. It takes courage to realize you’ve got some warts and challenges — and still like yourself.
As New York Times best-selling author Doris Mortman says, “Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.”
► 3. Visualize yourself as victorious.
One of the great secrets to successful living is to develop the art of using images. We succeed by the pictures we form in our minds. As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the father of modern-day positive thinking, said, “No problem can overcome you if you image yourself overcoming that problem.”
Suppose I lay a plank on the ground. Almost anyone could easily walk up and down that plank. But if I raised that plank 20 feet off the ground, how many people do you think would get across it without falling? I would guess quite a few people would fall.
Why can people walk the plank when it’s on the ground but not while it’s elevated? Because on the ground, you image yourself as succeeding. Off the ground, you image yourself as falling.
Your mental picture of yourself is vital. What you think, what you visualize, what you image is, to a large degree, what you will become — just like the eagle who thought he was a chicken.
As the story goes, a young boy found an eagle’s nest while climbing in the mountains around his father’s farm. He removed an egg from the nest and placed it under a hen back at the farm. The eagle hatched along with the other chicks. All his young life he was raised among chickens. Knowing no better he came to see himself as a chicken.
Then one day an eagle flew high over the chicken coop. As he watched this great magnificent eagle flying high, the thought came to him that he too wished to soar over the mountains. With a burst of inspiration, the young eagle flew to the top of the chicken coop. From there he soared to the top of a low hillside. As his confidence grew, he soared higher and higher until he discovered his great self, his true nature.
In a similar sense, to have an unshakeable self-esteem, you need to form a mental image of yourself as the master of difficulty rather than the victim of circumstances.
The professional tennis player Arthur Ashe put it this way. He said, “Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.”
Application: In which way would you like to be more victorious? Write out your description in as much detail as possible. And then spend two to three minutes each day holding that picture in your mind.
3 More Relationship Commitments you need to make
In the midst of war, there’s always some collateral damage. Some of it is unavoidable. But some of it can be prevented.
Right now we’re in a war against this COVID-19 virus. We expected some damage to the health and the very lives of many people, and we got that. We expected some damage to the economy, and we got a lot of that also.
What you may not have anticipated was the collateral damage to some of your relationships at work and at home. Some of my clients are calling me, saying, “Help! We’re at each other’s throats.” And others, including myself, have seen some of our relationships become increasingly strained because we disagree over how the government should handle this pandemic.
To prevent any more collateral damage to your relationships or to inject more life and pizazz into your relationships, you need to make 6 Relationship Commitments. I gave you the first 3 in last week’s Tuesday Tip. Here are the next 3.
► Relationship Commitment #4: I commit to being honest with you.
The strange thing is most people think they are honest. But on the other hand, they don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little dishonesty. They rationalize that white lies, exaggerations, or minor distortions of the truth are okay.
But what would you think of a manager who says, “My staff is really upset about the company’s new quality initiative,” but later you discover there had been only one, minor complaint? Obviously you wouldn’t trust that manager quite as much in the future.
As the philosopher Nietzsche said, “What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you.”
The truth is — anything other than absolute honesty does not build trust. Mutual trust is the unequivocal foundation of every effective relationship. Employers and employees, members of a team, husbands and wives must be joined in trust, or the relationship will eventually disintegrate. Trust is a must or the relationship will bust.
I totally believe that. And you can hold me accountable. If I ever recommend a book, a program, a virtual presentation, or anything else, you can expect me to be honest. As I tell sales groups when I’m speaking to them, “If the truth about your product or service doesn’t sell it, it’s time for you to work somewhere else.”
Try this as a little homework. Ask 5 people to rate you on a 1 to 10 scale for honesty. Ask them what score they would give you and why. It could lead to a very interesting conversation and a better relationship.
► Relationship Commitment #5: I commit to keeping my promises.
Every time you make a promise and keep it, you add another layer of trust to your relationship. And every time you don’t fulfill a promise, you destroy a piece of that relationship.
The Center for Creative Leadership discovered that when they compared executives who were kicked out of the corporation and those who made it all the way to the top, becoming the CEO. The one consistent flaw of those who didn’t make it to the top was the fact they did not keep their promises. They didn’t do what they said they were going to do. They couldn’t be trusted. And therefore they didn’t build a relationship with those they were trying to lead.
And let me suggest that your colleagues never forget a promise. The same goes for your partner and your kids. If you tell someone, “I’ll get back to you,” and then fail to do so, you destroy another piece of your relationship. You can’t say, “I got busy…or…I forgot” and expect things to be okay. They won’t be.
If you want an energized workplace, if you want a spouse that believes in you, if you want kids who look up to you, you must keep your promises…period! You have to avoid mushy language such as “I’ll see… I’ll give you a call… or … I’ll think about it.”
Give clear “yes” or “no” responses. Write down your promises, if need be. Make sure you don’t forget. And follow through on your commitments, even if you don’t feel like it.
Your promises may not be a matter of life or death, but promise keeping is a matter of respect or hurt.
► Relationship Commitment #6: I commit to admitting my mistakes.
Of course, that’s not easy. As Sydney Harris says in Pieces of Eight, “The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say ‘I was wrong’.”
It’s never easy to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Forgive me.” But it’s one sign of an emotionally healthy person. When you admit your mistakes, your family, friends and coworkers think, “I can trust you. You won’t try to bluff me.”
Golfer Arnold Palmer will soon be 90 years old, a sports legend who is known for keeping this 6th Commitment … of admitting his mistakes. On various occasions he has given himself a one-stroke penalty for a rules infraction that no one else noticed. He has astonished spectators and officials with his openness, and he has jeopardized thousands of dollars in prize money, but he has earned the public respect.
So be a Palmer! On occasion say, “I made a mistake. I was wrong.” After all, nothing turns us off quicker than someone trying to cover up his mistakes or refusing to admit it when he’s wrong.
Gordon H. Taggart said it very well. He wrote:
“I wish I were honest enough to admit all my shortcomings;
brilliant enough to accept flattery without it making me arrogant;
tall enough to tower above deceit;
strong enough to treasure love;
brave enough to welcome criticism;
compassionate enough to understand human frailties;
wise enough to recognize my mistakes;
humble enough to appreciate greatness;
staunch enough to stand by my friends;
human enough to be thoughtful of my neighbor; and
righteous enough to be devoted to the love of God.”
Which of these 3 Relationship Commitments are you going to be especially conscious of this week?