On Self-Esteem

* This is a letter to my family and kids.

You should take care of your self-esteem. It is different from being merely confident. Self-esteem, backed by strong resilience, can take you far beyond what’s believed to be possible, over come difficult struggles in life, get through deep loneliness, find the right partners for your endeavors, avoid vanity social events, less influenced by external validations, and even rise from the ashes.

When you are running low on self-esteem, you will start acting the opposite of a good leader. You will blame things on other people or the environment. You will avoid conflict. You will seek attention. You will brag more. You will take shortcuts. You will deceive others and bend reality beyond what’s acceptible. You become more authoritative and look down on others. You will ultimately lose the respect of yourself and the others.

When you are yearning for more “Likes” on Facebook, seeking external validation and agreement from others to the extent that you are influenced by it more than it should, unless you are in the business of entertainment, be wary of these symptoms. You will need to replenish your self-esteem.

I’ve tried many different things to make sure my self-esteem is running moderately high. Reading the right books, meeting the right people and partners, aiming for the right goals and making progress towards those goals, creating and believing in the sense of purpose,  organizing your surroundings and plans, staying healthy enough, getting enough sleep when needed, eating healthy, deeply focusing on experiences, being grateful and enjoying everyday things, all have helped me quite a bit.

Self-esteem is probably a mixture of your genes/hormones, your physical health, mental well-being, your experiences, your life’s frameworks, a good amount of introspection (look up ‘intrapersonal intelligence’) and some of the recent progress you are making. Make sure you balance those things right.

My belief is that self-esteem is also highly correlated to happiness. So if you can figure out what are the levers that will make you happy, and how you can structure your life to be happier consistently, you can probably figure out some methods to maintain good self-esteem in life.

If you maintain a healthy self-esteem, you will be happier as a person, and in general, be better as a leader.

Recommended readings:

  • “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment” by Tal Ben-Shahar (Amazon)
  • [KR] “회복탄력성 (Resilience)” by 김주환 (Joohwan Kim) (Yes24)

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