Thursday, April 15, 2010

From Self-Esteem to Self-Confidence to Poise

Birth of the Internet plaque at the w:William_...Image via Wikipedia

What is self-esteem?
If there’s any validity to the theory of determinism —that we are ‘fated’ from birth to be something or other— is how we handle our understanding of self-esteem.
Self-esteem is the core knowledge you have of your own worth.

Naturally, if you think little of yourself and believe it, then your actions will reflect that; soon people will also perceive you as inadequate. Low self-esteem will then become a self-fulfilled prophesy. Tasks that you could easily handle become difficult not because they are really unmanageable and beyond your abilities, but because you —yourself— and no one else thinks they are hard to do.
But no one is born with low self-esteem.

The problem arises out of sad experiences we suffer early in life. More often than not it comes from being humiliated by peers, parents, or teachers. Just knowing this point can take us a long way towards a more fulfilling life. People often say, “Don’t dwell in the past.” How true this is, dwelling in the past really means going over good and bad memories, except that bad memories linger and hurts even more.
No one is born with high self-esteem either.

In my long years as an executive in business, I’ve observed that the most accomplished individuals are those who exhibit high degrees of self-esteem. Not only are they high achievers, but they move with ease in social circles and social circumstances. They are sure of their abilities to complete all kinds of tasks successfully. When I had to delegate duties that required representing the company in high level meetings, charity functions, or lobbying for government contracts, I found that the best candidates were those who thought of themselves highly.

A high self-esteem is an essential ingredient of success in business and in our lives. If you meet a person with a weak handshake, who doesn’t look you in the eye, whose shoulders stoop to a defeated stance, and who whines—you can be sure you’ve met someone with low self-esteem.

What is self-confidence?
From high self-esteem to self-confidence there’s a short distance.
Self-Confidence is the manifestation of high self-esteem; it is what people see and appreciate in a person: certainty, decisiveness, and charisma. Just what do we see in a self-confident person?

They look their best. Seldom will you see a confident person badly dressed, unkempt, or disheveled. That quality of being ‘well groomed,” gives them an aura of attractiveness.

They speak well. In staff meetings, in doing presentations, in speeches, they shine. They are communicators who think and speak in full sentences, if not paragraphs. Those who are tongue-tied will have difficulty earning promotions, or even considered for plumb assignments.

They are givers not takers. I haven’t met one single successful individual who is stingy or petty. They gladly give their time and skills to charitable organizations. Volunteerism is the mark of a successful person.

They are self-starters. They are self-improvers. Although they have earned college degrees, most confident people continue their education in many ways. Some take extension classes; others attend weekend colleges, or are always engaged in some educational activity. They are “course takers.” With the advent of the Internet, and the proliferation of webinars, tapes, DVDs, and other media, there’s no excuse for individuals to stand on the sidelines while knowledge passes them by.
They are animal lovers. In my experience, employees who speak lovingly of their pets —in some cases with the same enthusiasm as their children— exude self-confidence. They can be trusted to make humane decisions.
They are dreamers.

What is Poise?
Many people associate poise with people's appearance. Wrong! As we saw above, self-esteem and self-confidence are manifested by the body, by outward appearance and behavior. Poise oozes from the soul.
While self-esteem and self-confidence are terrestrial and physical, for these attributes can be observed and apprehended by the senses. Poise is spiritual and seldom understood.

So how does one achieve poise?
Well-poised employees —be they of any level— are concerned not only with doing a good job, but with doing good deeds. That is, they are much aware of human virtues: prudence, fortitude, temperance, and above all justice. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said: “The truly virtuous man is he who putteth forth his good works as the vine fall its grapes and when they are gone hath no more any consciousness of them.
Although well-poised individuals on the surface exhibit an adventuresome spirit, takes risks, live daringly, and sometimes even dangerously, they do that precisely because they have analyzed, anticipated, evaluated, the outcomes. That is to say, they exercise prudence.

It is not that they are impulsive, impatient, and arrogant, or contemptuous of failure; it is not that they trample or step on other people’s toes, and are blindly ambitious—not at all! It is that they act with courage and fortitude, and with the assurance that the decisions they take are just to everyone involved.

If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either or Barnes and Noble.
Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

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