Self-esteem is a powerful human need, and no one likes to admit that they are lacking. Everyone wants to be above average, so it’s no wonder we tend to overrate our attributes and abilities. Our personal identity is how we think of ourselves.
Studies into the subject show that those of lesser ability tend to overrate themselves the most. It’s a form of over compensating for a deficiency.
The secret to a healthier, and more INPowering, self-image is to be real and honest with oneself about the true range of one’s abilities.
Confidence comes from knowing yourself well, and being able to perform within your abilities.
Self-deception is being willfully ignorant of your weaknesses and acting as if you are competent in areas where you clearly are not. Leaders who venture into these waters usually cover up their incompetence by blaming failures on others or on unforeseen circumstances.
So, let’s get real about two facts.
First, not everyone is endowed with equal mental and physical abilities.
Second, everyone can learn and improve, regardless of their current ability, and they deserve the opportunity to do so.
Let’s be morally correct instead of politically correct
In keeping with getting real, we also must get past the politically correct notion that being honest with people about their lack of ability or talent in an area somehow automatically diminishes them as human beings. We do more harm than good when we tell poor performers that they are doing just fine. In this case, I think the little white lie can do long range emotional damage, and that would be immoral in my book.
Honest appraisals liberate us to move on or to try harder. Both are acceptable choices.
I finally had to admit to myself that I’m not cut out to be a great convention keynote speaker. Neither am I a stand up comic. But I am an excellent instructor in a room where I can spend some time getting close to and more personal with my audience. I understand my limits and talents, and my self-esteem is higher as an excellent trainer than it would be as a lousy keynote speaker.
We do more good than harm by helping others realistically understand their current abilities and coaching them toward the most effective use of those abilities. And, I believe, we can do so without squelching their dreams to try anyway. Neither will we mislead them to think they are a natural at something for which they obviously have little innate talent.
The more real and honest we can be with ourselves, the more INPowering we can be for others. By being real and accepting of other’s innate abilities, we create a culture of acceptance, personal growth, and excellence, in our workplace, our family, and our community.
Here’s how to get real about your own abilities.
- Get honest, critical feedback from others on your performance. Do not rely on those who only tell you how great you are. Cultivate trusted critics who give you valuable insight into your performance.
- Grow your confidence by growing your competence. Make your talents into strengths.
- Know your shortcomings and practice on improving them. Look for opportunities to stretch yourself into new competency areas.
- You will enlarge and improve your abilities.
- You can empathize with those who are trying to improve.
- You can include others in a self-improvement culture that you are leading by example.
You can show that you don’t have to overrate yourself to have the respect of those you lead. And you will become more
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We find out who we are when we confront a moment of truth. Facing our weaknesses and frailties is often difficult because we don’t want to admit that we need to improve. This is especially true when we already have been placed in a role of authority or leadership. It is even more threatening when one is young and hesitant to look like they are not fully in control of their circumstances.
John Dewey said, “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I offer an audio version of chapter 1 of the first book in my leadership series, Marcus Winn’s Moment of Truth. See full book description here.
Many leaders find themselves in situations similar to the one Marcus faced on a Friday morning in October. He was trying as hard as he could to prove himself in his new leadership role, and he was on the verge of failing, but he could not see it from where he stood. His moment of truth came abruptly. Now, he had to work through all the emotions that go with it and find a way to recover. Could he?
Listen. And hear if you can identify with Marcus’s circumstances.
Exuberance is the energy of joyfulness and the fuel of success. If you want to get noticed by a boss, a customer, a prospect–anyone you want to impress–lead with your enthusiasm.
One summer, while I was in college, I sold books door-to-door. During our weeklong sales school preparing us for the summer, we started each day with a motivational assembly in which we chanted over and over, at the top of our voices, “Act enthusiastic, and you’ll be enthusiastic.”
In the field I learned that the more enthusiasm I showed for what I was doing, the more likely I would make a sale.
Garland McWatters at the 30/30 Next Gen recognition banquet.
Recently, I attended a recognition banquet in Oklahoma City to honor young people under thirty years of age who are already making a mark on their workplace and in their community. They are our next generation of leaders already on the scene. What impressed me, as I talked with several of them individually, was their exuberance about what they were accomplishing both professionally and in their community service.
I know there are scores of young people in every community like them: bright, involved, ready to make a difference, and exuberant about their accomplishments and possibilities.
When I listened to their stories, three qualities about their exuberance impressed me.
Exuberance is visible.
Exuberance shows up in your smile, your body language, and the delight in your eyes.
You can’t disguise it, or fake it.
Exuberance shows itself from the joy you feel doing something you love and believe in. Let it show.
Exuberance is contagious.
Others feed off your energy. You can see it for yourself. And when you are in the presence of someone who is exuberant and enthusiastic, your spirits lift as well.
Hearing and seeing others excited about what they are doing at the 30/30 Next Gen banquet re-energized me about my own projects and goals.
I noticed that summer of selling books, even when I did not make a sale at the door, despite my most enthusiastic pitch, both my prospect and I enjoyed the conversation about the books more. We parted smiling and energized.
Exuberance is dauntless.
Exuberance gets you through the tough times. It doesn’t back down.
I love the character Elle Woods in the movie Legally Blonde. No matter what happened to her–rejection, cruel pranks, humiliation, discouragement–her exuberant approach to life won over her most ardent foes and helped her become even more successful than she imagined she would be. She was dauntless.
Your exuberance is your self-confidence on fire. It keeps you moving toward your goals when others see only dead ends. Be equally dauntless.
Use the extra boost of energy you get from your exuberance to propel you through the dips and valleys of your doubts and fears.
Be unapologetically exuberant,
and show others that you are
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Founder, Bilingual Family
We all have a powerful passion, a purpose, a dream, a responsibility to the world. Daniela Perieda calls herself a compassionate entrepreneur. She exemplifies the Spirit of Leading as a young business leader who dared to pursue a dream larger than herself.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I ask Daniela to share her INPowered approach to living that led her to found Bilingual Family, a Spanish immersion school for children in Oklahoma City. She reveals how she used her elements of Dream, Do, Review to redirect her life ambition while in college and start a business.
Daniela also shares her thoughts on best ways to educate children and how to immerse anyone in learning another language.
See more about her school, Bilingual Family.
Discipline gets a bad rap. Most people think discipline is punishment. Au contraire, it’s liberating.
Discipline is the key to my successes and the home remedy of recovering from any funk I find myself in.
Discipline is liberating
Discipline is the ability to tell yourself what to do, and then do it. Discipline is a.k.a. willpower.
Discipline is the ability to say, “No,” to time wasters and distractions.
I’m doing it now. I’m exercising the discipline to write this blog post when I would rather be watching the morning news.
Discipline is the ability to keep the main thing, the main thing and stay relentlessly focused to do whatever it takes to see it through.
Disciplined people get a few important things done. The undisciplined clutter their time with many unimportant activities that usually are left incomplete. They become distractions and reminders of wasted time and energy.
And there’s a bonus to being disciplined. It allows me to find time for many of the fun and interesting activities I enjoy without the guilt of leaving other things undone.
Discipline. Try it. You’ll like it.
And you will be more