I had the very distinct pleasure of speaking at several elementary and middle schools over the course of the last week. My overall focus on the speeches and the advice I shared was for the students to focus on developing and understanding who they are as a person. Of the core areas to focus on, I stressed the need for the students to develop their self-worth. Considering the pitfalls and attacks that social media and a test-driven approach to education plays on this younger population, the need to develop a sense of self-worth is critical. As I delivered this piece of advice I realized how incredibly important finding and developing my own self-worth has and continues to be.
Self-worth is defined as the opinion you have of yourself as well as the value you place in yourself. It is the feeling of knowing you have a purpose, have great qualities, have achieved great things and are destined to achieve even greater things. The value of one’s self worth is determined by only one person- yourself. This is especially critical regardless of age and carries just as valuable a need for professionals. Failure to develop self-worth can have several adverse effects: (1) if you cannot determine your self-worth then you cannot hold others accountable to treat you at your worth; and (2) failure to determine your self-worth leaves you vulnerable to the influences, opinions and thoughts of other people, most likely comprised of people who want failure and destruction for you. Knowing and believing your value and worth not only sets the bar for how you view and care for yourself but also ensures that you can easily evaluate those people who fail to respect your worth so you can handle them accordingly.
Determining, understanding, and holding people accountable to my self-worth was a struggle. The main reason I feel this was the case is due to lingering self-esteem issues that stem from bullying as a child. However, I was forced to focus more time and energy on my self-worth the second I became an entrepreneur. My whole business is run by me, I am the face of my business, I have to negotiate, network and advocate for contracts and opportunities for my business. My failure to establish and understand my self-worth had me making very poor decisions that benefitted others at my detriment. I undervalued my time, undervalued my work, and inevitably undervalued my skills and talents. I allowed this to happen until I realized that I deserved better and deserved more. I stopped sacrificing my worth to appease others. I came into who I was and my value as a professional and developed an approach where people would either respect it or I would walk away, confident that another opportunity would be waiting for me because I earned it and deserved it.
Anyone seeking to develop their self-worth can take many approaches- all of which involve self-love. Here are a few areas to avoid when determining your self-worth-
- Don’t compare yourself to others – You are unique. You handle matters in your own way, your own approach, and with your own plan. You cannot look at other people and what they are doing or not doing to determine your value or purpose. In addition, you must stop making your self-worth dependent on other people’s opinions or thoughts on you. You can certainly welcome advice and insight but you determine the value of that information, but that advice and insight does not add or take away from your value. That is solely on you to determine.
- Don’t look for self-worth in material things – Self-worth is not determined, and should not be determined, based on the logo on one’s clothing, the number of Jordan’s owned, or the car you drive. All of that serves the purpose of projecting a certain worth in the eyes of others but when it comes to yourself all of those material things do not contribute to your self-worth.
- Don’t look for self-worth on social media – Due to the various social media venues, there is a growing trend, although more prevalent in young people, to place value in the number of friends, followers, likes, re-tweets or DM’s one receives. This is also why people will pretty much do anything to obtain more attention on these platforms by sacrificing their value and self-worth. However, we must re-focus and look at social media as a means to entertain us and not to define us, unless social media serves as a platform to grow your brand. Then more power to you!
In seeking, defining and establishing your self-worth, here are some important approaches that I think you should focus on-
- Develop a positive attitude about yourself – No one in this world can or should love you more than you love yourself. When you look in the mirror you must remind yourself of how much you love yourself. Building this shield of self-love will deflect any negativity that will come your way in the form of attacks on your self-worth.
- Conduct a self-analysis – One of the more challenging but necessary things a person must do to determine their self-worth is to conduct a self-analysis. What are your talents? What are your skills? What is your goal in life? Are you following your purpose and if not why not? Do you feel a sense of fulfillment in your work? If not, why not and what are you doing about it? Having a full and honest inventory of who you are and what you bring to the table helps to understand your value.
- Celebrate and pamper yourself – It is incredibly easy to be hard on ourselves when we fall short or fail yet it is very difficult to celebrate our own accomplishments. This must stop. The road to success is a long one. We must take the time and energy to celebrate our accomplishments, acknowledge the hard work that we have and continue to do, and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
- Help others but focus on you first and foremost- We have to spend less time and energy pleasing and appeasing others and more time focused on pleasing and appeasing ourselves. I am all about helping others, as I define success by how many other people we can help succeed. However, I cannot help others become successful at the sacrifice of my own success, as this will be a direct attack on my self-worth.
- Value your time and where you invest it – Time is incredible precious and valuable. And it becomes that much more valuable when you come to believe how important it is to you because of your value. You must be more mindful of who and what you invest your time in, making sure that your investment produces a valuable return. While this sounds selfish, which it is in essence, it is not meant to be negative but instead meant to highlight that if you know your worth coming to the table, you must be sure that there it is equally matched and exceeded.
I wish you much success in your journey of defining, believing and showcasing your self-worth to the world.