We all start out as kids with big dreams; we want to be movie stars, astronauts and sports superstars. We want to be somebody. But then we get out into the real world and it starts beating us down, and then we start beating ourselves down. We get to the point where we have little or no belief in ourselves.
I always tell people they need to be boldly humble. I realize this is a tricky thing, having a healthy self-esteem but not having an out-of-control ego. It can feel like a contradiction; life is full of them. But you have to develop the ability to find a healthy balance between the two. You have to be able to manage and move through these contradictions in a healthy way.
To achieve what you want in life, you have to build your belief in yourself. At the same time, though, it’s critical that, whatever level you reach, you maintain humility. Here’s what’s worked for me.
There are two parts to this. Look at whom you spend your time with. Whom do you talk to? Whom do you listen to? People often surround themselves with people who drain their battery, who are negative and who don’t build them up. They become kind of a mutual teardown society. Surround yourself with people who are positive, who build you up and who help you create belief in yourself.
I was an only child raised in a small community. But my mom and dad told me I could do anything in the world. My mom told me I could be president, that I could accomplish anything. She always gave me a high level of belief in myself. My parents’ friends echoed this kind of motivational support. I was surrounded not by wealth, but by upbeat, positive, possibility thinking people.
Surround yourself with people who build you up. The power of association and disassociation is a very important power for you to exercise in your life. Get away from people who make you feel like crap and get around people who give you belief.
The second part is what you read and watch. What are you reading? Is it about achievement? I like to read biographies about people who do things and accomplish things in life. By doing that, I realize they go through self-doubt, struggles and wanting to quit—everything that I go through—but they find ways to persevere through those things and overcome. Whether on the computer, phone or TV, what are the messages that come into your life to influence how you think?
2. Take small steps.
It doesn’t have to be anything big. Doing something you said you were going to do makes you feel better about yourself. Be a daily goal setter and a daily goal hitter. Know what you need to accomplish each day and do it. Check things off. This also helps you feel less overwhelmed with life. Some people have so much meaningless information coming at them, they get overwhelmed and give up. They sit on the sofa and don’t do anything. Get a list and knock things off each day. Remember, inch by inch it’s a cinch to get things done.
The voices in our heads aren’t always positive. In fact, it’s often that negative inner voice that sounds the loudest. I’m so stupid, I never get things done, I’m going to fail—again. Don’t do that. Think about what you’re thinking about and what you’re allowing to happen in your mind. Pay attention to your mindset. If you’re putting yourself down, reverse those thoughts and try focusing on your positive traits. We all have them. What you think about yourself is influencing the results you’re getting in every area of life.
4. Go for it.
Life is short. It goes by so quickly. What are you worried about? Most of the things we worry about don’t really matter. Just go for it. If you’re thinking about changing jobs because you hate your job, then change jobs. Don’t spend your life in a rut not liking yourself or hating what you’re doing. Do something about it. Find belief in yourself and then go for it.
5. Rein it in.
When you’ve gone out and won, when you’re super-successful, you have to work like crazy to realize you’re not that big of a deal. Don’t be a loudmouth. Don’t be a know-it-all. Don’t be a jerk. It’s that tricky combination of humility and self-esteem when we realize that none of us are that big of a deal, but on the other side of it, we all have great value. You are the only you there will ever be on this planet in the history of humanity. Be the best you that you can be. You’re never in life as good as you think you are when things are going great, and you’re never as bad as you think you are when they’re aren’t. We’re all somewhere in between.
Related: 6 Attributes of Healthy Humility
Photo by Chawki/Twenty20
John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.