What Is Your Reputation With You?
By Sandra Abell, MS, LPC, ACC

Matt has been a supervisor for several months, yet he continues to struggle with the image of himself in his new role. He knows his job is to lead and manage people, but he doesn’t believe in himself or trust his ability do this well.

Matt’s challenge is that he doesn’t value himself as a person. He thinks he’s an OK guy, but his self-esteem, which is his reputation with himself, is low. He doesn’t particularly like himself. So even though he is smart, capable, and has a lot of knowledge about the company, he doesn’t see himself as functioning well in his new job.

Matt’s employees like him as a person, but have picked up on his insecurity and low self-esteem. As a result, they don’t trust him to lead them as they move ahead in the workplace, and they feel leaderless and lost.

There are many people who are just like Matt. People who are trying to lead or manage others without the benefit of healthy self-esteem. Whether you are a business owner, CEO or scout leader, your job is to lead and manage others. If you want to do this well, and want others to trust, respect and follow you, you must first trust, respect and believe in yourself. You must have high self-esteem.

When Matt came to me for coaching he said he was confused because he’s been at his company for years and knows the products and customers well. He’s very confident about this. However, when he tries to see himself in a leadership role, his confidence disappears because he has low self-esteem.

Self-Confidence or Self-Esteem
He hadn’t realized that self-confidence and self-esteem are not the same. Self-confidence is how he feels about his ability to effectively function at any given moment, and can be affected by everything from his current health to the weather. There will be some days when he feels strong and in control of his life, and other days when he’d rather stay in bed and let someone else take care of everything. He learned that self-confidence might fluctuate daily and even hourly. Much like a tiny boat on the ocean, that can be tossed about or sail smoothly depending on surface conditions

Self-esteem is a constant, and is not affected much by everyday events. Self-esteem is the unwavering acceptance, compassion and non-judgmental love he feels for the person he is. Self-esteem can be compared to the depths of the ocean, which remain calm and unchanged even during violent storms.

Matt realized that in order to have positive self-esteem he has to know, accept, and love every part of himself. To accept his "humanness" he needs to be able to take honest pride in his many talents, strengths and unique qualities, as well as have compassion for the part of himself that is not always perfect or positive. True self-love is nonjudgmental.

He also learned that having nonjudgmental self-love and acceptance does not mean he believes he is perfect or has no need for personal growth or improvement. It simply means he is aware of all aspects of himself, the ones he’s satisfied with and the ones he may want to change, and that he accepts rather than rejects the total self.

Where Does It Come From?
Matt wondered why his self-esteem was so low, so we looked at where it might have come from. Over the years he has gathered incredible amounts of data about who he is. Input from the people and events in his world have helped create how he currently defines himself.

His concept of self – who he is – began when he was a baby, and grew into how he feels about himself today. It’s a composite of all the input, positive and negative, verbal and nonverbal, that he has received throughout his lifetime.

As we looked at this, Matt remembered a childhood filled with negativity. His parents’ anger and bitterness about the hand life had dealt them was often taken out on him, and he was never given positive messages about who he is. Since children believe the adults or authority figures in their lives, he incorporated their negativity into his self-image. He learned that he was defective, annoying, stupid, unlovable and rejectable. That negative self-image resulted in poor self-esteem.

As we worked together Matt learned that how others respond to him does not actually define who he is! Their responses only reflect who they are, and whatever is going on for them at a particular time.

How To Change
This was an amazing awareness for Matt, who then set about changing his perception of himself. He:
· Looked at the values of his parents and authority figures, and decided if they fit the adult he is today. If they fit, he kept them, but if they didn’t, he let them go and created new values to fit the person he is now.
· Looked at the validity of the negative messages he received, and began to see that they were a reflection of the people saying them, and weren’t true about him.
· Once he saw they weren’t true he allowed himself to let them go, and created new, positive messages to take their place.
· Began to take responsibility for how he feels about himself, his abilities and his life, instead of allowing others to define him.
· Focused on appreciating his accomplishments rather berating himself for not achieving perfection, and viewed mistakes as learning opportunities instead of failures.
· Identified the negative people in his life, and began to spend less time with them, and spend more time with positive people who value and support him.

As Matt improved his self-esteem, he began to recognize that he has the ability to do well in his leadership role. This increased his confidence, which became apparent to his team. As a result they felt more comfortable following his lead, and the morale and productivity of his department increased dramatically.

So, what is your reputation with you? Is it possible that poor self-esteem may be holding you back from being as effective and successful as you can be?

It’s something to think about.

Author's Bio: 

Sandy is the author of Self-Esteem: An Inside Job and Moving Up To Management: Leadership and Management Skills for New Supervisors, both available on www.amazon.com. She is an educator, speaker and a Licensed Professional Counselor. She specializes in working with executives, business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs and people in transition. Sandy publishes a free monthly newsletter entitled Focusing On Your Success. Please visit Sandy on her website at www.insidejobscoach.com.