Self-Esteem = Team Esteem

Teams are composed of individuals. A teams ability to function and the commitment of the members is determined, to some extent, by the team-image. Team-image is dependent upon the self-image and the self-esteem of the individual team members as illustrated in the following story.

"It's not my fault. I don't care what you say I didn't make that mistake." Burt retorted, "And even if I did, it's your job to catch my mistakes. If you were capable of doing your job right this never would have happened. Don't you ever forget that I'm your supervisor. If we lose this account because of your incompetence I'll make you pay. You'll never forget the day you crossed Burt Nelson. I don't know why they insist on hiring women anyway. I'm the one who always end up having to do your job for you. I'll never forget what you've done".

The self-esteem of individual team members is probably the biggest factor in how well a team functions. Burt has very low self-esteem and consequently will sabotage any team effort trying to look good or feel good about himself. He never admits his mistakes. He never takes responsibility for anything but success, even though things work despite him and not because of him. He has an excuse for everything.

Ken Blanchard (Author of Inner Management: The Importance of High Self-Esteem) and Jennifer James (Author of Thinking in the Future Tense) developed a check list for self-esteem. An adaptation of this list follows. As you read the fourteen items that follow try to step outside and see yourself from the point of view of your fellow workers. Being honest and claiming your faults as well as your strengths is the first step to building self-esteem. Many people find it harder to accept their strengths than to claim their weaknesses. Be compassionate, respectful and non-judgmental as you go through the check list. Mercy is the key word as you go over this list which is the absence of judgment. As people, we all have strength and weakness. Weakness is the opportunity to grow stronger.

  • Are you critical? Do you put down others?
  • Can you accept your mistakes? Mistakes are opportunities for real learning and personal growth. You must first accept that you made a mistake before you can profit from it.
  • Can you accept your physical image? Look in a mirror and state, "I love and accept you just the way you are". If you're unable to say the words, you're not alone. Most people are unable to do this. Stand nude in front of a full length mirror. Look at yourself. Notice how you automatically react to your body. If you find it hard to accept and love your own physical image, change your beliefs. If you can't accept where you're at, you'll probably never find your way to where you want to go.
  • Can you say no? If you are unable to say no to others it may be because you value yourself so little that you feel everybody else is more important and more deserving than you.
  • Do you like your name?
  • Do you enjoy your birthdays? If not, it may be because you feel unworthy of being celebrated as a person.
  • Are you argumentative? Must you always be right? Must you always win at the expense of someone else losing?
  • Are you intolerant of others? Can you accept people for who they are without needing them to change? Bigotry of any kind is a sign of a lack of self-respect, self-acceptance and low self-esteem.
  • Are you angry? Everyone has met someone who seems to believe that the only energy capable of accomplishing anything is anger. All anger is self-anger. You treat the world the way you treat yourself. Any disrespect you have for the world is a reflection of the disrespect you have for yourself. Ken Blanchard speaks of angry people as gray stamp collectors, as opposed to gold stamp collectors. Gold stampers focus on the good and positive things they find in life collecting the good. Gray stampers always qualify the positive.

If you say, "It's a beautiful day".
They respond with, "Yes, but it's going to snow later".
If you say, "Things are going really well".
They say, "Yes, but with my luck things are going to fall apart any minute".
Gray stampers collect the misery they find in life. Are you a gray stamper or a gold stamper?

  • Can you forgive? Do you hold grudges? Jennifer James calls people who hold grudges, "gunny sackers". Gunny sackers take each little thing that they perceive about you as something to be used against you. They put it in a gunny sack. When the gunny sack is full they dump it on you. They may bring up things that happened years ago and throw them at you even though they are completely irrelevant now. All grudges are really grudges against yourself. Are you worthy of being forgiven by yourself? Are you worthy of mercy?
  • Are you jealous of others, their accomplishments, their relationships or their possessions? Jealousy is a way of saying, "I'm not good enough to have the things I want or the relationships I want, or to accomplish what I want". These are immense limitation to impose on yourself.
  • Materialism. Do you believe that what you own is the measure of your worth? Do you believe that he who dies with the most toys wins?
  • Do you need titles or awards to prove your self-worth? Is your life worth living if nobody acknowledges you with titles, awards, trophies or certificates? Is your self-worth dependent on someone else telling you that you are worthy?
  • Is it okay to lose? Do you beat yourself up if you lose a game, a contract, a job or even a marriage? If you lose at something, can you grieve and go on with your life or do you take the attitude, 'my life is over'?

Even when you know exactly what you want in a given situation and you are highly motivated to achieve it, if you have low self-esteem and poor self-image, you will sabotage all efforts to achieve your goals. In order to effectively deal with what you perceive as losses and failures you must start by examining your image of your self-worth. All things positive in life begin with self-respect. Choose to honor yourself with respect and treat yourself with mercy. No one can do it for you.

Guidelines For A Better You

Even when you know exactly what you want in a given situation and you are highly motivated to achieve it, if you have low self-esteem and poor self-image, you will sabotage all efforts to achieve your goals. In order to effectively deal with what you perceive as losses and failures you must start by examining your image of your self-worth. All things positive in life begin with self-respect. Choose to honor yourself with respect and treat yourself with mercy. No one can do it for you.

Building Self-Esteem

Learning to appreciate others and express that appreciation is an important step in building your own self-esteem. When you make someone else feel good about themselves you automatically feel good about yourself.

You can only feel appreciation for someone or something to the degree that you can appreciate yourself. If you don't appreciate your own honesty why would you appreciate someone else's honesty. If you have no value for honesty it will only irritate you when others expect you to be honest.

Learning to appreciate others and to let them know how you feel is of utmost importance to exceptional teamwork. If you're critical of others, you can't help being critical of yourself. If you find yourself putting down others, listen to your internal dialogue and you will find that you use the same put-downs on your self.

14 Ways To Build Self-Esteem

1. Set Obtainable Goals

Set small goals. Break every complex task down into steps. As you accomplish each step let yourself know what a good job you've done. Reward yourself with a small indulgence. Treat yourself to a walk through the park or a tasty snack. Write yourself a note or send yourself a card that says, 'good job', 'thank you' or 'you're a good person'. It doesn't have to be a big thing.

2. Acknowledge Mistakes and Apologize

When you make mistakes acknowledge them as immediately as possible. If you owe an apology, offer it immediately. The sooner you apologize the easier it is.

Be specific with your apology. "I'm sorry I stepped on your toes", is more satisfying for both parties than, "Sorry".

Don't qualify your apology. "I'm sorry, but if you'd keep your feet out of the way this wouldn't happen", is no apology. It's an indictment of the person you've injured.

3. Love Your Body

Learn to like your body. Every body does amazing things. You may find it hard to accept parts of your body. This is the result of someone else's judgment about bodies. You've heard derogatory things about your body or bodies similar to yours. You accepted them as true, usually when you were a child without the ability to understand that another person's judgment does not constitute the truth.

Identify parts of your body you like. Maybe you have good skin or teeth. Perhaps you have good posture or strong legs. Expand your list of things you appreciate about your body everyday. Once you begin to examine your body you'll discover more that you like than you realized.

4. Say "No"

Learn to say no. When you don't refuse requests for your time, energy or resources and when you don't want to give them, you gunnysack your feelings. As your sack gets fuller it also gets heavier and weighs you down, draining your energy. Saying no at appropriate times is a way of valuing yourself. Of course, saying no to someone pleading for help so they don't bleed to death is not appropriate and devalues both parties.

5. Clearly Ask for What You Want or Need

Ask for what you want. When you ask for what you want you tell yourself that you're worth getting what you want. You won't always get what you ask for and the worst that can happen, in most cases, is that you'll be told no. If you have high self-esteem it doesn't hurt to be turned down. You understand that there are more aspects of every situation than just your interests. Even if you do feel pain over being refused you're able to acknowledge the pain, get on with your life and let it go. High self-esteem makes it easier to put aside your interests when it's appropriate.

Ask in a way that you're most likely to get what you ask for. When you begin a request with phrases like, "You wouldn't want to do this for me, would you?", what comes across is, "I'm not worthy of having you do this for me.

When you use an approach like, "Would you please do this?", you're saying, "I honor you as a person. You are worthy of respect. I appreciate you sharing yourself with me". A respectful attitude honors asker and grantor. A respectful attitude is not self-degrading.

6. Change Your Name

If you don't like your name change it. Many people go through life hating their names. A name is a word that holds some power over your life.

It's an easy matter to use a different name. People may resist the change. It violates the rules of a relationship you've established with people. In time your new name will be accepted.

7. Celebrate You!

Enjoy celebrating your own birthdays, milestones and achievements. Imagine that you're celebrating someone you have deep respect for. Approach the celebration as if it were in honor of someone who really deserves to be celebrated. It's true, there is only one you and you are perfectly he/she. What more could you ask for than perfection?

8. Develop a Winning Attitude

Adopt a win-win attitude. If you approach every thing with the intent that everyone involved wins, it's hard to lose. Winning builds self-esteem, especially if there are no losers.

9. Listen Well and Don't Argue

Listen when you want to talk most. If you feel like you have to argue, beware. Many find that the more sure they are of their position in an argument the more likely they are to be proven wrong in the end. Arguing is a good way to destroy self-esteem. Using good communication skills will help you build self-esteem.

10. Develop Acceptance and Tolerance for Others

Learn to be interested in the ways of others who are different than you. The world is full of wonder and each of us possess a little of that wonder. Our differences are what make the world interesting. Imagine how bored you'd become with everyone if they all thought, talked, looked and moved like you. Most people would go crazy if they had only themselves to talk to. In nature, it's diversity that creates strength.

Many people talk of being tolerant, but tolerance isn't enough. How does the thought of being merely tolerated in the world feel to you? We all deserve to be accepted as the perfect human beings we are. If you are perfectly you, then the same applies to everyone else.

11. Let Go of Anger

Choose to let go of your anger. Anger produces chemicals in your body that drain your energy and damage your body. It's hard to feel good about anything when you're always angry.

When you feel angry, acknowledge the appropriateness in your anger. Say I choose to release this anger now, so it doesn't interfere with appropriate action. Letting go of the anger must be your conscious choice to be effective.

12. Practice Forgiveness

Forgive. We have strange ideas about forgiveness. We think forgiveness is something we give others when they've harmed us. Often we think that the offending party must do something so we are able to give them forgiveness. If they don't do what we want we are unable to give them forgiveness, so we hold a grudge. Holding a grudge is a form of gunnysacking. We put our hurt in our gunny sacks and carry it around. We add every little injury until the sack becomes a burden.

The only person you can really offer forgiveness to is yourself. If something makes you feel bad, you can simply forgive yourself and the bad feeling goes away. Forgiving someone else can't do this.

There are ways to avoid having to carry the burden of a grudge. The most obvious is to simply choose to let go of it. It's not the other person who carries this burden, it's you. You're the one who needs forgiveness. Choose to forgive yourself and drop the load.

13. Enjoy Simple Pleasures

Claim more simple pleasures in your life. Take time for the things that are beautiful to you. Enjoy the things that make you happy. Most simple pleasures are free. The only investment they require is the choice to enjoy them.

14. Feel Empathy for Others

Be empathetic with others when they are joyous as well as when they are in pain. It's often easier to share misery with a person than it is to share good fortune. It's okay to share another person's pain. It's equally okay to share their joy.

Let your self be happy for others when they win the game even if you lose. No matter how hard you practice a win-win attitude, sometimes there has to be a loser. If you bowl the lowest score in a bowling tournament, you may have lost in one sense. If the lowest score in the tournament is the best you could do that day, you also won. The only real competition in any game, as well as in life, is with yourself. Every challenge is a way to improve yourself in some way.

Building self-esteem costs nothing. The more you build others self-esteem the more your own self-esteem grows.

Written by Madison Holloway, PH.D


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