written by John Niland
Summary: As more and more people live through times of change and insecurity; many find that the roots of self-esteem do not go deep enough. Showing them how to cultivate deeper roots of unconditional self-worth will be a valued service to leaders, independent professionals, universities, colleges and millions of people in career transition. Could this be your next career?
In more ways than one, we are living through a hurricane season. The tsunami of change is affecting everyone: seasoned professionals, young adults, corporate managers and even veteran entrepreneurs are all experiencing their own brand of uncertainty and “interesting” times.
During times of unprecedented change, there are many practical effects:
- Some people “freeze” and stop taking action: particularly those actions that require creativity or courageous thought;
- Many seek escape or fresh pastures: a recent survey reported that 46% of Millennials are expected to leave their current job within the next twelve months.
- Some take shelter in blaming others: their colleagues, another team, competitors, immigrants, etc;
- A few manage to manipulate these tensions for their own advantage (sound familiar?). Not just in politics, this happens in organisations, too.
- Entrepreneurs and people in business-development have to work harder than ever to fill their pipelines;
- There are many setbacks, changes-of-plan and disappointments to deal with: testing everyone’s resilience;
- Many become discouraged and resigned: “what’s the point!”. Depression sets in, diminishing the capacity to act.
Of course, self-esteem is valuable. For example, when a person reflects on their strengths and achievements, it often inspires fresh hope and empowers them to act. Self-esteem will often get people through a temporary squall in life or in career.
But when faced with repeated setbacks or prolonged uncertainty, then unconditional self-worth becomes more important than conditional self-esteem. In those times, you need roots that go down to the groundwater supply, so that you are not dependent on variable surface-level weather conditions.
I’ve written about this more extensively in The Self-Worth Safari. Here is a quick summary of the benefits of self-worth:
- People bounce back more quickly from setbacks, as they are less likely to reproach themselves (or others) for things that didn’t work out.
- Performance therefore improves, as energy gets focused on real work rather than blaming oneself, or endless self-preoccupation.
- People are better able to focus on how they can contribute, rather than incessant self-appraisal and the need for constant positive feedback.
- As a result, creativity is enhanced. As people come off the drug of self-preoccupation, they find fresh angles and new approaches to problems.
- Nearly everyone experiences a new sense of lightness and joy, irrespective of what is going on around them. As one person put it, it’s a relief to get rid of the burden of “proving yourself”.
Peter (not his real name) is a young professional working in a mid-sized service organisation where there are constant waves of re-organisation. Everyone around him is suffering from insecurity and very keen to prove themselves and show how they are clever. Some don’t even hesitate to claim the successes of others as their own.
Having made the transition from self-esteem to self-worth, Peter is no longer feeling stressed about all this. Detaching from internal politics, he has turned his attention towards the issues of customers who are also grappling with a changed world. Building on his natural talent for curiosity, he’s recently uncovered a real opportunity on which is his firm can capitalise. As a result, Peter has been fast-tracked for promotion.
Whether it’s the professional negotiating fees, or the graduate looking for job interviews, or the young woman appointed as manager in a male-dominated team, or the twice-made-redundant project-manager who needs to reinvent himself… a lot of people can benefit from self-worth in a changing world. How can you help them? At Self-Worth Academy, we see many promising career options ahead for those who can empower others to deepen their roots of self-worth in practical ways:
Consider for example:
- The plight of many students at second and third-level, obsessed with grades and proving themselves. One look at student suicide statistics should be enough to reveal the scale of the self-esteem problem with young people.
- The world of marketing and business-development has changed fundamentally in the past decade and will continue to do so. Supporting sales professionals and independents in both human and practical ways represents an ongoing need, that is not going away.
- Managers will struggle to engage talented people, given the significant number of people who no longer want traditional “jobs”. Those who master the art of self-worth (and self-esteem) will have an advantage in human-centred leadership.
- The number of people in career-transition will continue to grow. Self-worth is particularly relevant when people are in transition, because their identity is vulnerable as they cross the river from one career to another.
- From what we’ve seen at Self-Worth Academy, self-worth is a particularly hot topic for women: in leadership, entrepreneurship and also in relationships.
- Young professionals still in their first jobs are naturally keen to prove themselves. Like Peter above, this can be a limiting perspective. Many find fresh lightness and creativity when they root their identity in unconditional self-worth.
- When people are first appointed to management positions, this often brings a significant shift in the relationship to their former peers…. and also a certain amount of isolation. Self-worth is particularly relevant at this point in professional life.
- As many studies show, loneliness is in the increase throughout many parts of society. Self-worth can be a nourishing foundation on which to do something about that.
Whatever the season or the climate, people need deep roots to sustain them during turbulent times. For at least three generations now, we’ve been educated in a culture of self-esteem. Supporting people to shift to new soil is both a meaningful and inspiring way to make a living.