We can have all the best qualifications in the world, all the things that we ever dream of – a BMW, a villa, travelling the world and still have the constant urge to benchmark ourselves against others. Why? So as to confirm that we are on the right track. So, our self esteem/self confidence depends on external factors: the attitude of others towards our persona, our wealth compared to others, our performance bench-marked against others. At school, there are scores, rankings to allow us to understand where we are in terms of our intellectual education given that we are not yet adults. In real life, as adults, this race continues on endlessly until it comes to a point where we start to question the validity of “third party benchmarks”. Do we all want to be part of the herd? As humans, it is natural to be part of a community. Does it imply that we need to comply to certain social requirements in order to earn respect from others? Or can we earn that respect by listening to what we really want and leave it to others to choose to think of us as they wish? Do we consciously make our choices or do we tell ourselves that this is the only option and there is nothing we can do to change our reality? Are we victims of our choices or are we masters of our lives?
The day we meet someone doing better than us – our self-esteem goes down or we feel an urge to be as good as them despite the fact that we are already happy where we are. When we meet someone “worse off” than us, we are reassured. What makes great leaders achieve lifetime success that nothing else could possibly measure up to it? Was it the urge to be the best of the herd or was it more of the belief that I have in me what it takes to achieve what I want?
Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs have something in common. “It’s the faith that I am going to achieve my dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem to be”. No one could stop them from achieving their goals despite the formidable challenges they faced. The how and the when was unknown to them at the time they start to go towards their dreams. The only thing they did was to keep going until they eventually got there. What “society” thought of them did not matter – third party bench marking was totally meaningless to them!
Self esteem is about measuring myself against myself. Where was I, 5 years ago? Am I still in the same spot or have I made any progress towards the object of my dreams? What were the lessons learnt and what else did I receive? What the rest of the herd is doing does not matter to me. What is most important is I am doing my best every day, every hour to reach my goals. Goals can change over time: our dreams at retirement are not the same as those of a 15 year old kid. What gets better over time is our faith in ourselves. As we meet up with the challenges that life brings to us, we find ourselves dealing with them in a more serene way allowing our creativity to step in and provide us the solutions with more ease. We have the ability to choose of our free will irrespective of what others think. All roads lead to Rome and everyone can build their itinerary to Rome.
Learn more about building a winning personal brand with Valerie Cheong Took at http://www.valeriecheongtook.com