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Have You Earned Your High Opinion of Yourself?

Self-esteem is a loaded word these days. But when you're the boss, it's actually a sign of mental health.
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The next time someone calls you an egotistical jerk, you probably ought to thank them.  They have just provided a strong endorsement of your mental health. 

Self-esteem is a loaded word these days, a personality flaw of over-compensated one-percenters and over-praised millennials.  But that’s false self-esteem—the defense mechanism of people so insecure they measure their worth by their paycheck or the incessant praise of others.

So let’s be clear from the outset – I’m referring to legitimately earned high self-esteem.  The kind that comes from performing well because you have worked so hard to reach the top.  The kind that Will Rogers was talking about when he said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”

Genuinely deserved self-esteem provides a competitive edge in our competitive world.  Like it or not, life is a series of competitions.  You may be competing for a grade, a spot on a team, a job, or the largest account in town.  The higher your self-esteem is, the better you get along with yourself, with others, and the more you’ll accomplish. 

Psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden discovered an additional benefit to having high self-esteem:  “There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity.”

What’s the matter with being proud of what you've done or think you can do?  When you’re young, you’re full of the sense that you can and should be able to do almost anything.  That enthusiasm shouldn’t change as you get older and more experienced.  Your accomplishments should reinforce your sense of self worth. When baseball scouts see it in young prospects, they call it “the good face,” the look of self-confidence that radiates from winners.

            A little boy was talking to himself as he entered through his backyard, baseball cap in place and carrying a baseball and bat.  "I'm the greatest baseball player in the world," he said proudly. Then he tossed the ball in the air, swung and missed.

            Undismayed, he picked up the ball, threw it into the air and said to himself again, "I'm the greatest player ever!"  As the ball descended, he swung at it again, and again he missed.

            He paused a moment to examine the bat and ball carefully.  Then once again he threw the ball into the air and said, "I'm the greatest baseball player who ever lived."  As the ball came down, he gave another mighty swing and missed the ball again.

            "Wow!" he exclaimed. "What a pitcher!"

Mackay’s Moral:  All entrepreneurs know in their heart that you can't go wrong if you bet on yourself.

Last updated: Jan 27, 2012

HARVEY MACKAY | Columnist | Founder, MackayMitchell Envelope Co.

Harvey Mackay, author of The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World, is founder of the MackayMitchell Envelope Co. He has written six bestsellers, including Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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