Stories That Teach Life Lessons

Boosting Your Own Self-Esteem


The key to genuine self-assurance and a method for putting that knowledge into practice is exposed.

A definition of self-confidence and a template for implementing it in any situation would be greatly appreciated. In my experience as a Work Pace Trainer, I’ve developed a simple but effective model or method that anyone can use. I looked at the most widespread factors to determine if building trust was possible without them. It didn’t take me long to notice that there were recurring elements. It became a question of interpretation or terminology, and I had to streamline everything so that it was simple to grasp and, more significantly, implement. To be clear, none of the three primary elements was solely accountable or related to the other two. Finally, I had the right recipe. C=(A+B)+ (K+E) where A=action, B=belief, K=knowledge, and E=experience denotes self-confidence.

The letter A stands for “action,” which is where I’ll begin. It’s simple: nothing will happen unless you do something about it. Taking the step of reading this will aid in your personal development. But it has to be the correct step, and it has to add value to your life.

Belief equals the letter B. Self-confidence is like a present you give yourself, but you can only open it if you know you deserve it. If you want to boost your confidence, the first step is to prove that you deserve it. Although the supportive words of others can help you believe, ultimately, it is up to you to determine when it is your time to receive. The true challenge is developing self-confidence to the point where you can accept the present. If your religion is based on propaganda, you might be able to fake it until you make it, but this is more an act of faith than belief. Evidence is the defining characteristic of confidence as opposed to religion. You can get by for a while on faith alone, but true faith is founded on evidence that you can accomplish your goals and the information you have acquired through experience. If someone tells you they have confidence in you, they believe in your inherent abilities to succeed even though you haven’t been tested yet.

Even if they tell you they trust in you, that faith is merely an assumption until you prove yourself. That’s fine if they have confidence in your ability to complete the job based on your prior experience or knowledge. This can be the final push you need to get things done, but if someone truly has faith in you, they will state that they know, not just feel, that you will accomplish your goals. Faith is the conviction that something is attainable, while knowledge comes from experience. Belief is solid and real, whereas faith has not been put to the proof but is often prompted by faith. If faith and conviction are equally as powerful in inspiring you to take action, why do I distinguish between them? For one simple reason: we keep failing. If you fail when acting on faith, you won’t get any closer to success, but if you forget when acting on belief, all you have to do is adjust your ideas until they fit reality. Operating on pure faith places you in a position of utter destruction if you fail, and it is tough to rebuild faith after it has been destroyed. I’m not saying faith is always a bad thing; in fact, I prefer it to the alternative. After all, when evidence is lacking, a trust may be all we have to go on. However, the human mind prefers empirical evidence to abstract concepts when it comes to self-assurance.

Now we’re at the letter K for “knowledge.” Being well-prepared is crucial to your self-assurance. If you know in advance what is going to happen, you can prepare accordingly. A strategy is a promise to carry out a series of predetermined steps. Taking constructive action is a fantastic way to calm those nerves. The stress brought on by choosing between fighting and running away is eliminated. A person lacking self-assurance will do nothing, attempt to juggle too many tasks, or misbehave. Knowing what to anticipate can help you take the proper steps, choose the right words, and work correctly.

In many cases, the first thing you do is wrong, but once you get going, you can make the necessary adjustments and course corrections with relative ease. Taking action based on what you know is preferable to doing nothing. To me, it looks like a ship that has stopped moving. It requires much work to spin it around, but you can do it much more quickly if it’s already moving. You’re like that; you can switch gears and become something else entirely if you have enough information. For someone lacking in self-assurance, the inability to take any action is the worst possible scenario. Their adrenaline continues rising until they react in an irrational, unplanned way. A self-assured individual never allows their circumstances to dictate their mood or demeanor. We will save the myriad techniques for calming your anxieties for another time while we continue our investigation into the nature of self-assurance. Knowledge can only be proven through doing, as the above analysis concludes. The application of accurate knowledge is the foundation of appropriate behavior, but if you find that your actions are momentarily inappropriate, you can easily adjust them by incorporating new information. What you learn next is conditional on the results of your initial probe. It’s preferable to be actively moving rather than doing nothing at all.

The letter E stands for the word “experience.” You can acquire the background information and experiences you already have in one of three ways. The first is direct experience, such as participating in or observing an activity. Either way, you gain insight and can better plan for whatever comes your way. The ability to anticipate and prepare for future events comparable to those encountered is a crucial benefit of acquiring experience. Thanks to your expertise and preparation, you’ll be able to take the proper steps. You’ll do the right thing because you think it’s the right thing to do given the present situation.

Another way to learn from the mistakes of others is to learn from the experiences of those who have gone before you. You can effectively steal their knowledge and skills and turn them into yours.

The third variety is academic knowledge. By reading about people’s experiences with comparable situations and then putting those people’s advice into practice, you can gain the benefits of prior experience without having to go through it yourself. You could also term this knowledge, though it really only becomes yours when you put someone else’s experience to use.

The bottom line is this. You can have faith that your skills and expertise will equip you to handle anything that comes your way. Ultimately, the experience of putting your information to practical use counts. The circle concludes with your personal experience as the foundation for your beliefs. C=(A+B)+(K+E), where A=action, B=belief, K=knowledge, and E=experience, and C=self-confidence.

As I said before, this is a cycle that strengthens over time, but it may take a lifetime to reach a degree of self-assurance with which you’re happy. Often, the moment a person gets a comfortable degree of self-assurance is when they run out of steam. The adages “Youth is wasted on the young” and “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders” come to mind.

These are the aphorisms of elderly sages who are too weak to put their knowledge into practice. They passed away, taking their knowledge and experience with them, as do many previous groups. It’s a vicious cycle because the next generation is too preoccupied with making errors to learn from the previous one.

On the other hand, I have spent a considerable amount of time in the company of the elderly. Thanks to what I’ve learned, I’ve found a way to bypass the system entirely. I could impress my colleagues in the business world by using their merged knowledge as if it were my own. I have amassed and squandered several fortunes, experienced great pleasure and contentment, and come dangerously close to committing suicide due to stress caused by my ignorance. The sound of a person’s name repeated on your lips during discussion is the sweetest sound in the world, and I’ve learned that listening is more important than talking. My classmates liked me well because I genuinely cared about them and respected their privacy. I took these accessible teachings and used them professionally and personally. All of these and more have contributed to shaping my character. I made up my mind and formed my own opinions before I ever had to put them into practice. People listened to me when I spoke, and I eventually became the team head of experts.

You might think my ideas are dated because I’ve been sharing these methods for over three decades, but I assure you that they predate even recorded history. They are just as valid now as they were back in the period of the ancient Greeks and Romans thousands of years ago. These timeless principles have been rediscovered and reclaimed by successive generations throughout history.

The information age has given way to the information overload age, with thousands of books written on the topic. However, the message is so straightforward that you won’t need to consult any further “experts.” I’m about to tell you a shockingly simple fact, so unbelievable that you might even doubt me.

So, here it is. Human nature is as erratic and unpredictable as the weather, so it’s impossible to anticipate how people will behave. What the other guy is thinking is something you can speculate on, but you can never know for sure. Therefore, attempting to predict how another person will feel is like trying to catch a falling star. After all, the advertising business exists because its members believe they are experts on human nature, and both the internet and Google have a wealth of data on shifting religious attitudes. But it all comes down to the individual you’re talking to now, and there’s no way to know what’s happened in their lives to shape their perspectives. However, one factor you can not only predict with absolute certainty but also manipulate and control is your reaction. You would have everything you need to exude self-assurance if you always knew exactly what to do and say. This is an example of how the formula can be applied, not to an external factor but to yourself. C=(A+B)+(K+E).

It would be best if you were pretty experienced by now to have many feelings and responses. You probably think highly of yourself because no one else could possibly know you as well as you know yourself, right? I can assure you that you have no idea how you impact those around you and that you might be hurt by the realization that you irritate many people unintentionally. What other people believe and feel about you is none of your business unless it has some bearing on your life. You might never find out, and it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference even if you did. When I was teaching public speakers, I often emphasized the fact that every audience contains both fans and detractors.

They may like you because you remind them of someone they like just as much but dislike you. After all, your shirt makes them think of an uncle who was an actual pig to them when they were young or finds you annoying because you seem so happy even when they are having a bad day. The good news is that you will never know any of them, and even if you did, would it have made a difference? You are paid to talk in public and deliver a message. The best strategy has nothing to do with the many different ideas being discussed in the room, so there’s no point in wasting time on it.

But what if you screw up? The pauses and starts in human speech are termed sentences. It’s okay to make a few mistakes; you can always fix them later. However, if you pause and make a big deal about it, you’ll be broadcasting that you made a mistake. If you make an error, chances are most people won’t even notice, and some may even assume it was intentional. They will continue to believe it is correct until you confirm it with your deeds and words.

At the end of the day, one individual, a board of directors, or a packed auditorium—they’re all just people. They are human beings like you, who eat, sleep, hold beliefs, and have information and experiences that may be similar to or very different from yours. The fact that you were nervous before using the term “antidisestablishmentarianism” will likely be forgotten by the time tomorrow rolls around, but the impression you left on them will remain.

Therefore, you should be confident in the impression you leave on others after communicating with them. You need in-depth self-awareness to accomplish this. This is the question that has plagued many for years, “How do you learn that stuff if you have no experience?” The solution is surprisingly simple. Knowledge and experience, I assume, are prerequisites for faith.

My fifth-grade teacher, Miss Connor, used to drag me in front of the class and scold me for chatting too much. As she continued to rant, I began to feel as low as a snake’s abdomen. After several incidents like this, my mother received a note explaining what had occurred. While she read the letter to me, I waited in the kitchen. I felt like she was focusing on me and that I was no better than anyone else in the class. I was standing in the kitchen when I looked behind me and saw my mother’s image in the window. Even though I felt humiliated by my predicament, my face conveyed arrogance and defiance. I realized then that Miss Connor’s negative response to me was likely due to a misinterpretation of my expression. Several times I pulled words in the glass to get it just right. My mom almost cried when she glanced at the note and saw my face. It was so full of innocent remorse. It was a few months before I was discovered talking in class again, and by that time, I had carefully crafted an expression to convey my genuine regret for having

forgotten my manners. Miss Connor, who had her issues and would sometimes vent her frustration in class, was so moved by my apology that she asked me to sit down and, with tears in her eyes, patted me on the back before continuing with the lesson. That’s when I realized I could use my face to affect how others felt about me. What I realized at the age of ten has become one of the most important things I’ve ever learned. Knowledge and experience were in my arsenal, and I felt confident that this would be a life lesson I could always draw upon. Now, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I enrolled in acting classes because I wanted to improve my skills as an actor and because I was beginning to perform on television. We used a dictionary to look up various phrases as part of the activity. We then had to improve our body language and expressions to convey that phrase better. I learned that there were literally tens of thousands of facial expressions and that a slight shift in muscle tone here or a shrug of the shoulder there could completely alter the image you gave. Then we’d stand in front of the class with a sheet of expressions and see if the kids could figure out which one we were attempting to convey just by watching our body language. I wasn’t the best in my class, but some classmates went on to have successful careers in Hollywood. I won’t mention

names, but you might be surprised at who they were. They were terrific, and I was merely mediocre, but we had a great time and learned a lot. This is now a staple in my leadership training sessions. You should isolate yourself in your room with a reflection, a dictionary, and the goal of improving your language skills. Oh, and be sure to lock the door; if anyone you know happens to walk in on you, they will surely assume you’ve lost your mind. You ought to have accumulated a vocabulary of phrases after a couple of months. After that, you move on to snippets from your favorite videos or talks you’ve downloaded online. You will learn to communicate in new and exciting ways, but more significantly, you will learn about who you are. Once you’ve mastered this ability, you’ll understand that people communicate primarily through their bodies and faces, even before they say a word. You will learn more about who you are, and the practice you get at home will help you succeed in any professional setting. You’ll quickly believe this is possible once you test it on a few close friends or coworkers. A word of caution: this is meant to be a step in self-discovery, not an excuse for excessive vanity.

Knowing your appearance is a step toward knowing who you are. As I mentioned before, reading someone else’s mind is impossible, but you can anticipate their own. The ability to predict their responses and respond accordingly provides you with a significant advantage in any conversation.

If you practice these techniques, you can calmly and confidently defuse any potentially explosive circumstance without worrying about making a fool of yourself.

I was once requested to instruct a group of government officials on using a particular piece of software. It was a well-known and lucrative position. Because I was unfamiliar with the new software, I initially declined the task. They returned to me offering double the money and free housing when they couldn’t locate a teacher. The men I was training also had no prior experience with the program, so I was presented as the go-to guy. The training week was a huge success, and I was requested to come back to help with upgrades many times afterward. These geniuses had no idea that I was studying it that night in my hotel room to teach it the following morning.

Did I wake up anxious and worried every day? Not at all, and I always had several responses prepared in case I was asked a question I didn’t know the answer to. You know what, that’s an excellent question and it deserves an equally good answer; I’ll make sure I’ve got all my facts right, and we’ll address it in the next session. So, naturally, I did some homework that night to answer his question in the morning. I could keep my secret from everyone because I knew I could figure it out and then impart it to others. Everyone’s issues were ultimately resolved. You’ve already accomplished a great deal when you feel good about yourself. You’ll never be at a loss for words and give the impression that you can handle anything that comes your way. That is the key to self-assurance, then. I think you should reread this essay.

Drinkwater, Leith. Trainer, Coach, Mentor, and Teacher in the Workplace and Entrepreneur.

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