“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” ~Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle was a British historian who dedicated much of his career to studying what characteristics were common in those we consider to be great people—or people who have done great things. He found that self-esteem and self-confidence were consistently present in those people. That is not really a surprising finding—what is surprising is how Carlyle suggests we acquire those attributes. He said we have to actually go do something meaningful; we need to accomplish something significant if we want self-esteem and self-confidence.
I have a different opinion about how a person develops self-esteem and self-confidence. My observation is that the people who simply do hard things develop those traits whether they achieve something that is big in the eyes of the world or not. It is the overcoming of the self that builds self-esteem and self-confidence. When a person gains the inner strength to act contrary to their natural inclinations and climb instead of coast, that person feels both self-esteem and self-confidence. On the other hand, when we succumb to our baser instincts or our weaknesses, we lose self-esteem and self-confidence.
Greater self-esteem and self-confidence provide the strength to do harder and harder things, which in turn leads to greater self-esteem and self-confidence. This is an upward spiral that promotes happiness and accomplishment. Of course there is an opposite spiral that is brought on by taking the easy way and avoiding challenging opportunities that come to each of us.
Each day you have the chance to start the upward spiral anew with the choices you make first thing in the morning. Here is the five-step formula I shared with young people I worked with during my three years in the Philippines.
Get up early
Make your bed
Exercise your body
Plan your day
Honor your word
Give it a try—you will make better decisions all day long if you do.