How well do you know yourself? The answer this question may surprise you. As the CEO of your life, it is essential to know your strengths as well as areas that need improvement. It is paramount to increase your effectiveness by building alliances with people who complement your weaknesses.
It is important to remember we are all “you”nique™. Each of us is a combination of our heritage, culture, upbringing, education, experiences and beliefs. And no two of us are alike, even if we have a twin! It is important to know and value ourselves for the one-of-a-kind individuals we all are because our self-esteem, self-confidence and success are hugely influenced by how we think and feel about ourselves. Nathaniel Brandon, author of The Psychology of Self Esteem and Honoring the Self says, “The way we feel about ourselves affects every aspect of our lives including how we function at work and how we function in our relationships with other people.” Our perception becomes our reality.
How do you describe yourself? Do you define yourself as your job title or function at work? Or possibly as your role of partner, mother, daughter or friend? Or do you describe yourself as an energetic, enthusiastic, sharing, caring person? Will the real you please come forward?
Take a moment now to inventory and list your talents, strengths and abilities. Make a second list, specifying the areas you want to improve. Be sure to think about your personality, behavior, attitude, leadership traits, communication style, inter-personal skills, roles, hobbies, education, preferences and any other characteristics that make you who you presently are.
Which of your lists were longer, your strengths or weaknesses? Keep in mind that negative thinking is a bad habit and habits are learned behavior. The good news is with focus, discipline and patience this bad habit can be replaced with a good one!
Now ask two or three people from each area of your life what they think are your strengths and weaknesses. This is important because we see ourselves through a “you”nique™ set of lenses that are created by our individual life experiences. Note all responses and compare them to the lists you created. The most valuable part of this scrutiny is an expanded view of you. Sometimes something we do without thinking is perceived as strength by others.
You will see a pattern emerge as you compare your list and those you receive from others. Take some time to reflect on which of your characteristics move you toward your vision and support your values and which characteristics hinder you. Which do you want to do more often and which do you want to eliminate? Most of us are creatures of habit, which means repeat actions from our past without thinking or choosing our actions. I encourage you to live in the present and learn to respond by consciously choosing your thoughts and feelings. This habit will allow you to act more often from your strengths rather than those patterns you have acknowledged do not serve you well.
What do you say when you talk to yourself? (Yes, you really do talk to yourself!) Your behavior is largely determined by what you say to yourself. What you think and believe shapes what you become. Reflect for a moment about what goes on in your head on a daily basis, about the constant and often unconscious dialogue you have with yourself. Is this talk positive or negative? How do you feel about the thoughts you have about yourself? How are these things influencing your life? Do they build or destroy your self-confidence, your success, your relationships with others?
The things you say to yourself are the seeds you are planting for future harvest. Take a close look at what you are sowing in your mind. For most people, 80 percent of what they say to themselves is negative. Do you fit into this category? To find out, for the next several days, keep a piece of paper and pen handy and write down everything you say to yourself. If you are telling yourself too many negative things, make it a habit of catching yourself when you are saying negative things and affirm yourself with at least two positive statements.
Why do we persist with patterns we no longer want? By saying such things as, “I could never do that,” “I sure am stupid,” “Nobody likes my ideas” or “I look awful,” you are convincing yourself that these things are true! All of these messages deplete self-esteem and perpetuate a genuine sense of inadequacy.
Positive thoughts nurture our self-esteem and energize us for the challenges we all face each day. Messages such as “I am really wonderful,” “I am a great person/manager/friend,” “I have what it takes to succeed,” and very importantly, “I am lovable,” boost our self-esteem and perpetuate a genuine sense of self worth.
Our thoughts command our experiences and environment. Choose to hold in your mind the image of the person you want to become. You can become this person, by daily visualizing your goals and the successes you seek. Whether or not you choose to direct your own course throughout life is a decision only you can make and act on. The important part is believing it can be done and to start today to improve how you think and feel about yourself. Remember, if you love and respect yourself, then you can give love and respect away. How can you give away what you do not have?
Each of us is unique and only you can achieve the things you want and were created to do. Decide from now on you are going to focus on your strengths, to value them, while striving to improve the things that you feel will make you a better person. You really can make a difference, if you decide to, and are willing to do the things you need to do to become the person you most want to be. Why not start right now?