It is common knowledge that when investing you should not put all your eggs in one basket. So, why do we so often do that with our sense of self esteem? We need to diversify your self esteem.
Humans have intrinsic value hierarchies, what we think is virtuous, what we think is not.
It is vital to value some things over others if we are going to be able to make decisions at all.
If our perception of ourselves has high overlap with our value schema then we will have high self esteem.
But, if we perceive a large disparity between them then we will have low self esteem.
If you don’t see much value in a person paying attention to detail then you won’t care much if someone says you don’t pay attention to detail.
That is what makes certain topics so triggering, they make you take notice of this difference.
If you think it is important for someone to be funny to be a valuable human, then you will take comments on your hilarity as an affirmation of your worth and gain a higher self-esteem.
You subconsciously know that you are not as funny as you think your ideal human could be. You are the only one to see all of your failings and your thoughts. Pulling down your view of your overall performance.
This creates pent-up stress.
So, if someone mentions, even facetiously, that you are not that funny it draws attention to that difference. Something you for some reason take very seriously.
The shadow of this difference is the chink in your self-esteem armour, constantly rearing its ugly head and getting in the way of honest self-evaluation.
Measuring your traits
You discover these traits from pursuits in your life. Your metrics for measuring those pursuits are how you measure your performance in those traits.
E.g. if you think you are good at inspiring people to do their best work, and you bring someone into your team… you’re anticipating they’ll do great work, their best work, right?
And when they do, it will logically manifest in them reaching their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you have set up for their role.
If they do not reach these goals, you will likely take this as a personal attack on your self-image. It’s a delicate balance between taking extreme ownership of your business failings and adding additional pressure on yourself by trying to carry everything and always aimlessly internalising blame.
There are many other uncontrollable factors that will influence their performance.
By using these highly uncorrelated metrics to measure your value you are setting yourself up for unending self-doubt and self-punishment.
“But I know I’m not good enough at X! I failed at Y because I’m Z. God, I’m the worst!!”.
But I’m going to repeat from before. There’s a balancing act here. Obviously you can trace the chain of outcomes and as the ‘big boss’ it’ll inevitably end up at you.
This is not the point of this article. This is not just about business but a larger approach to value distribution in life. You can read “Extreme Ownership” if that’s more what you’re looking for.
You’re already your own worse critic. If someone used irrelevant metrics to measure your performance you’d surely see that as unfair. So why do we let ourselves get away with this?
That’s a discussion for another day. It’s easier to first address the symptoms than to treat the cause. If you’re fighting fires constantly then addressing the root issue will be impossible.
Instead I’m proposing a difference approach.
- You will inevitably and unavoidably be measuring yourself against unfair metrics instead of actual causality-based relationships…
- This will inevitably lead to a decrease in self-esteem because in reality there is ‘loss in the system’. A lightbulb letting off heat as well as light means it’ll never be as bright as it ‘should’ theoretically be…
- Then (at the simplest level) we will need more traits! Thus, when one suffers it won’t affect your sense of self-worth so much. It is only a part of the whole and not the whole in-and-of-itself.
Diversify your portfolio of value creation, careers are not your entire being. If you’re like most people, then your goal is to retire as quickly as possible and get out of your career, right? (lol)
What will you be once you take that career direction from your identity?
This is why so many founders are let down when they exit their business. It’s not everything they hoped it would be and they are filled with regret. “Finish Big” is a good book with many interviews if you’re not convinced by my unqualified opinion.
You are a multi-dimensional being!
If you only have one dimension that you are measuring yourself on then you are not doing yourself any justice…
You are more than your writing ability, more than your public speaking ability. You are more than your cooking ability and when you reduce yourself to just one thing you are putting all your eggs in one basket.
I have been really horrible about this recently as I have focused more and more on business as the main driver of ‘success’. It took a close friend who knows me well reminding me to view the big picture that brought this back to light for me.
Now, I am setting out to diversify my self-esteem, so that a bad day of business will not drive down my valuing of my ACTUAL SELF. A new app release getting rejected from the app store, a ghosted email, a missed deadline, a failed pitch, even a failed business are not the end of the world in most cases.
Then, it won’t be so damn personal.
No one is perfect, least of all me. Recognising that allows me to try to create frameworks around my life to help me cope. So I can bound back when these triggers come out.
Strong relationships, caring friends, hobbies and non-work-related skills (arts, cooking, singing, martial arts etc) are vital. Personal emotional growth will bring you that forward momentum so many of us crave.
Neglecting it will only leave you feeling unfulfilled and hurt your professional performance in the long run.
This gives you permission to feel fulfilled without forcing you to incessantly charge head-first, over and over, into the same damn brick wall.
By diversifying your self-esteem you’re activating the cheat codes to preemptively de-weight upcoming failures.
It matters less when an attempt at something falls through when the stakes are lowered. This obviously doesn’t apply to everyone and all situations (not much does). I hope you can take something away from this very personal realisation because I know I’m not alone in this.
They’re fairly obvious words but it takes a lot to take them seriously…
It’s tough, it’s really fucking tough to create something of value from nothing, using creativity and drive to pull something from yourself.
So remove the shackles of additional unnecessary pressure by diversifying your self-esteem. This improves your chances of ‘success’. Which here means general health and wellbeing over the long term.
If you wanted to improve your chances of success in financial investing you’d be derisking through diversification.
All I am saying is that we should use that same approach to improve your lifestyle outcomes.
Here I am, proposing a different kind of movement. Let’s start promoting diversification of self-esteem.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know, I’d love to spark discussion.
Also published on Medium.