When you’re struggling to grow your business, everyone seems to have a magic formula. Some experts will tell you it’s all about sharpening your skills, while others will suggest creating a more strategic vision for your company. But those outward efforts will never transform your business the way inner work on your self-esteem will. While all of these are important, your self-esteem (how you see and value yourself) is the most important element of business growth. Having solid self-esteem will dramatically influence your confidence (how much faith you have in your ability to achieve a specific goal or use a particular skill), performance, and business success.
Self-esteem is created or destroyed by various experiences in your life, including childhood events (like being bullied), friendships and relationships (like having a supportive romantic partner), accomplishments (like winning an award), or defeats (like not getting a promotion).
You can lead your business to next-level growth by improving your self-esteem with these three tips.
1. Harness the power of your unique strengths
Knowing your zones of genius helps you perform better in business and feel competent. For example, maybe you’re excellent at creativity, marketing, planning, program development, strategy, coaching, or relationship building. If you’re unsure of your strengths and how they can be best used in your business, seek external input. A coach, past colleague, business partner, or a psychometric assessment tool like TAIS or CliftonStrengths could help uncover skills and talents you might not have been aware you had.
Once you’ve identified your zones of genius, reflect on how you feel when you use them. Do you feel excited, content, grateful, happy, in awe? Reflecting on these positive emotional states improves your mood, and when you feel good, you can focus better and stay on track with your goals, build better connections with stakeholders, and experience less stress.
Next, identify how often you are using your zones of genius. If it’s less than 80% of the time, there’s a good chance you could be feeling exhausted, frustrated, and even disengaged from your business. To avoid experiencing these negative emotions, minimize the amount of time you are doing tasks outside your strengths. For example, sub-contract services out, hire a virtual assistant, or skill swap with another rising entrepreneur to support you in doing your best work to optimize how you feel and perform.
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm S. Forbes
2. Lean Into Self-Compassion
Experiencing negative emotions is never an issue. It’s how you cope and lead yourself through the feeling that matters. The truth is, there will be times you feel disappointed in yourself or question your worth when a client doesn’t buy your product, you make an error giving a talk in front of an audience, or when an event doesn’t sell as many tickets as you’d like. Start by recognizing and labeling the emotion you are experiencing. Is it self-doubt, frustration, confusion, sadness, or disbelief? This helps to normalize and take power away from the feeling versus ignoring it and pretending like everything is okay.
Next, identify the negative thought you are experiencing. For example, “I am never going to be successful with this product launch.” Then challenge or reframe the negative thinking by asking yourself, “What advice would I give to a friend or colleague in a similar situation?” Finally, practice the same self-compassion towards yourself and give yourself this advice. By doing so, you are promoting connection and acceptance with yourself and enhancing your emotional state.
3. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
It takes courage to face fears and step outside of your comfort zone, and the first time you do it, it will likely be uncomfortable. That’s okay! Like training any muscle, the more you flex your self-esteem muscle, it will grow. So, let’s equip you with some quick self-esteem muscle-building exercises that promote acceptance and courage. I recommend using one of these every day to enhance your emotional state and supercharge your confidence so you stay focused on growing your business.
- Celebrate a “win” by journaling about it. Write how you felt and identify the strength or skill you used to achieve the win.
- Courageously divulge a failure with a coach, friend, or business partner, and discuss what you learned from the experience.
- Practice grace by being nice to yourself when you’re frustrated with your performance and seek to understand what contributed to the misfire.
- Create a description positive affirmation such as, “I am strong like a willow tree anchored firmly in the ground when I use my zones of genius. When I accept myself, I am fearless, and I take rapid aligned action towards my goal. I am confidently pursuing what matters to me and have proudly achieved my goal.”
- Give yourself permission to fail so you can soar. I’ve found this to be most powerful for my clients because imperfection and setbacks are something we all experience. Failing is an integral part of success. Approaching failure as an opportunity for learning and growth allows you to become more self-aware, improve your performance, and take your business to the next level.
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