Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Career management & self-esteem

Esteem, more specifically self-esteem: What is it? What do most people mean when they say it? What happens when it is low, high or somewhere in-between? How does self-esteem affect our career choices and decision-making? How is self-esteem linked to this gratuitous image of spectacular scenery?

Apart from the last question, this is an interesting topic to explore. Dictionary.com defines self-esteem as "a realistic respect for or favourable impression of oneself." Cambridge Dictionaries Online calls self-esteem, "belief and confidence in your own ability and value."

It is rare to hear every-day stories of high self-esteem. Low self-esteem is far more commonly discussed. So, why is self-esteem even worth exploring on a career management blog?

One reason is that low self-esteem undermines career management activity. For example, an unfavourable impression of yourself is an obstacle to opportunity. It can be even more challenging when you are competing for jobs with people who possess high self-esteem - a very favourable impression of themselves and their abilities, regardless of whether it is well founded or not. [This picture shows someone with a hangdog expression, often a give-away of low self-esteem]

The link between self-esteem and career management is also worth exploring because understanding your individual relationship with work can help to regulate self-esteem and move it up or down to a more appropriate level. Understanding what we want from our relationship with work gives us the confidence to make better choices and creates the potential for work to be both successful and fulfilling at the same time.

But, confidence in career decision-making can only take root if you convince yourself first. Convincing yourself creates belief and confidence in what you are doing and - as we discovered from the dictionary definitions above - belief and confidence contribute to self-esteem. 

Beliefs are especially valuable when they can be tested and found to be stable. One way to form such stable beliefs - at least in the context of our individual careers - is by exploring our values, talents and goals. If you can begin to understand what is important to you, what you are good at and what keeps you going, confidence in your ability to make good career choices will grow.

The link between self-esteem and self-leadership also makes an interesting study. Self-leadership allows us to define career success for ourselves. Self-esteem gives us something to support our individual choices with. The connection between healthy self-esteem and successful self-leadership will be explored further on this blog in the future because it exists in too many examples of best-in-class career management to ignore!

As always, your comments and emails on career-related subjects are welcomed!

Best Regards



Here are some links to posts on belief, career decision-making and understanding our values, talents and goals:

Self-leadership and belief

Career perspectives

Knowledge, choice and understanding

One career, One conversation

Breaking new ground

Splitting decisions

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