To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem


Esteem Driven Engine

Esteem Driven Engine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

If you look under the Self-Help heading on Amazon, you’ll find roughly 5,000 books listed under the subhead Self-Esteem. The vast majority of these books aim to not only tell you why your self-esteem might be low, but to show you how to get your hands on some more of it. It’s a thriving business because self-esteem is, at least in Western cultures, considered the bedrock of individual success. You can’t possibly get ahead in life, the logic goes, unless you believe you are perfectly awesome.

 

And of course you must be perfectly awesome in order to keep believing that you are — so you live in quiet terror of making mistakes, and feel devastated when you do. Your only defense is to refocus your attention on all the things you do well, mentally stroking your own ego until it has forgotten this horrible episode of unawesomeness and moved on to something more satisfying.

 

When you think about it, this doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success, does it? Indeed,recent reviews of the research on high self-esteem have come to the troubling conclusion that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. High self-esteem does not predict better performance or greater success. And though people with high self-esteem do think they’re more successful, objectively, they are not. High self-esteem does not make you a more effective leader, a more appealing lover, more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, or more attractive and compelling in an interview. But if Stuart Smalley is wrong, and high self-esteem (along with daily affirmations of your own terrificness) is not the answer to all your problems, then what is?

 

Continue reading on HBR.org…

 

 

 

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