Category Archives: Self-Improvement
“Our value is the sum of our values.”
– Joe Batten
We call the men and women who realized their dreams and ambitions, accomplished great things, and left an indelible mark in their chosen fields of endeavors in different ways – winners, achievers, successful people, distinguished individuals, people who achieved renown and wealth, extraordinary and great men and women, and exceptional and remarkable ladies and gentlemen. I don’t know if there are other ways to call them. The one thing I know for sure is that there are only a few people like them in the world.
Why did they succeed? Why only a few a people would end up standing on the winner’s podium?
Aside from their obvious dogged determination to get what they want and become who they want to be, what else do you think is common among them? Here’s my take – a strong value system.
Let me refer to value system as the collection of a person’s attitudes and beliefs.
How important is a person’s value system? Does it correlate with success?
Your attitudes and beliefs inform the decisions you make and control the way you live your life in general. Thus, you have to be aware and critical of your own value system – of the attitudes you possess and the beliefs you uphold. If you haven’t yet, you need to evaluate your value system as objectively as possible. The following should be the goals of your evaluation: to strengthen the good ones that you have; and to identify which ones are sabotaging your pursuits and endeavors.
Moise (2104) explained that “beliefs are about how we think things really are and tend to be deep-set. They represent mainly assumptions that everyone makes about [themselves], about others, and about different phenomena that are occurring in their own environment. Attitudes, on the other hand, can be considered as the response that individuals have to others’ actions and external situations, ways of conduct that people have learned having certain beliefs and values.”
Beliefs and attitudes are byproducts of our education and the accumulation of experiences since childhood. The attitudes and beliefs we possess constitute our conditioning or programming which in turn influences our perception and reactions to whatever happens around us. They inform the way we talk, behave, and think. They are the foundations upon which every decision we make stands.
Accept it or not, your attitudes and beliefs will dictate whether you succeed or fail, whether you live a happy life or a miserable one. There’ no limit when it comes to success and greatness. You can have and become whatever you want. But as Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, more than your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” You also need to evaluate your beliefs. “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy,” says Tony Robbins.
“The beliefs that accumulate in the minds of people as they get older become the rules that govern their actions and way of thinking. The beliefs and evaluations people hold about themselves determine who they are, what they can do, and what they can become (Burns, 1982).”
Who you are, what you can do, and what you can become are things that are not foreordained or predetermined as what advocates of the doctrine of predestination would want you to believe. They are results of the decisions you made and will be making. How far you climb the ladder of success and greatness depends on the quality of the decisions you make.
Your decision-making mechanisms are wired to your value system. That’s how critically important it (value system) is. The soundness of your decisions therefore is hinged on your attitudes and beliefs. Whether or not you would end up joining extremely successful people at the top depends on your willingness to develop the same value system that brought them there.
And what is the nature of their value system? What attitudes and beliefs do achievers have?
Part of my daily routine is reading literature and watching videos on personal growth and development. This allowed me to evaluate the value system of people who made succeeding a hobby. In talks and guestings, some of them openly discuss the specific attitudes and beliefs that made them who (and what) they are.
I chose the following as the most important attitudes and beliefs that constitute their value system: Self-belief; In control; Personal Accountability; Positive Thinking; Positive Perspective; Positive Mindset; Passionate; Purposive; and Grateful.
These achievers have faith in themselves. They are in control of their destiny. They are personally accountable. They think positively. They look at things using a positive perspective. They have a positive mindset. They are purposive and passionate about everything they think, say, and do. They are grateful.
The distinguished individuals in our midst strongly believe in themselves and never doubt their ability to succeed (or to eventually succeed.) Not that they never failed. They did, sometimes multiple times like J.K. Rowling whose first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers. But she kept trying until Bloomsbury published her first Harry Potter novel (J.K. Rowling, n.d.). The rest, as they say, is history.
What if J.K. Rowling stopped trying after those many failures? She would have not become one of the highest-paid authors of this generation earning millions of dollars a year. What if Henry Ford and Soichiro Honda, (founders of motor companies that bear their names); Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (of the Microsoft and Apple fame); and Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln (giant political figures in their respective countries) all succumbed to their initial failures? But they did not. They have (and had) faith in their capabilities and in their dreams. They did not quit. They knew that eventually, they would reap the fruits of the hard work they sowed.
People who achieved renown and wealth got what (and where) they wanted because they willed it. Instead of becoming hostage to the notion that men get to live their assigned fate, they took control of their own lives and charted their own destiny. They also consider themselves personally accountable for whatever happens to them and what they become. They make their own decisions and live their lives on their own terms. They take it incumbent upon themselves to ensure that they succeed, with or without the help of anybody. They don’t rely on anyone but themselves. They would appreciate any kind of help but these people prefer to climb their own way to the top. Their character is that strong and their heart and mind focused on their goals that no matter what, they would reach the summit of any mountain they wanted to climb. That’s how they got there. And that’s how you’ll get to the top and rob elbows with them. That is if you are willing to emulate them, to follow in their footsteps.
Despite the skepticism thrown against positive thinking (or any of its equivalent constructs), achievers embrace it for they know and are smart enough to acknowledge that it is more beneficial to think positively rather than negatively. They practiced positive thinking and I don’t mean that they just imagined themselves becoming successful then they became successful. They used positive thinking only as a springboard.
Those who bothered to study positive thinking before judging its worth do acknowledge that it is not the be-all and end-all of personal growth and development. As I said previously – it’s a springboard. It is better to have hope – which is what positive thinking gives – than none at all. But as John Maxwell puts it, “hope is not a strategy.” This they know. Thus, they did not stop after thinking positively. They acted after thinking. They carried out their plans.
Thoughts have power in themselves. They affect a person’s health and wellbeing. But you will not bring your dreams and ambitions to fruition by just thinking and not doing anything. “Act is the blossom of thought and joy and sufferings are its fruits.” It was James Allen who said that.
The few extraordinary and great men and women among us view things, events, and issues using a different lens. They have the propensity to look at them at a positive vantage point. What ordinary people consider an adversity is for them an opportunity. This Jim Rohn illustrated succinctly through an anecdote about two salesmen who, one day, experienced a storm. One of them looks out and says “Wow, what a storm! With weather like this, they can’t expect you to go out and make sales. He stays home. Same morning, the other guy looks out – same rain, same storm – and says “Wow, what a storm! With weather like this, what a great day to go out and make sales! Most everybody will be home – especially the salesmen!”
That’s the kind of lens that those people who succeeded possess. They see opportunity amidst adversity. What about you? They refuse to be drowned by the unstoppable waves of challenges. They surf through them. They are the ones who look at failure as a teacher that tells them what didn’t work thus they perform better when they try again. These people would simply refuse to dwell on the negative.
Their positive perspective is part and parcel of another important construct called “positive mindset.” Others view perspective and mindset as similar concepts. I construe them differently – the former is a component of the latter. Mindset refers to the general attitudes of people, not only the way they think about things and issues. There is something else to mindset aside from the ability to put things, events, issues, and what-have-you in a positive frame. That something is what Carol Dweck (2006) dichotomized into “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.” She (Dweck) refers to it as self-perception or self-theory that people hold about themselves.
Needless to say that the winners who raised their hands in the podium of success possess a positive (or growth) mindset. They believe that a person should continuously hone their skills and abilities. It is what successful people do – dedicate themselves to lifelong learning. They worked hard maintaining the notion that intelligence and talents are something that they are not born with but something they have to acquire and nurture. Even if many of them are innately intelligent and talented, they never assume that they are. They are determined to learn what they want to learn and acquire the skills they must develop in the pursuit of their dreams and ambitions.
Achieving goals has seemingly become natural for these exceptional and remarkable ladies and gentlemen because in addition to all the aforementioned beliefs and attitudes embedded in their value system, they are also passionate and purposive. They display tremendous passion in their personal, professional, and business pursuits. They know what they want and would not leave a stone unturned until they get it.
Certainly, these people whom we look up to because of their tremendous accomplishments and exploits are not whiners and whingers. They are satisfied and grateful. And why not? Why would they complain when they have everything they want and they are exactly where they want to be. They are enjoying the fruits of their labors. As the old saying goes – “You reap what you sow.”
It is hard to tell as to how many of these people who have accomplished so much have the humility to recognize that in the process of them becoming and getting what they wanted, there was an unseen force that guided and helped them. Those who do call that unseen force different names. I call it GOD.
It is my personal belief that what will glue together our attitudes and beliefs into a stronger value system is faith in GOD.
Burns, R. (1982) Self Concept Development and Education. Dorset Press, Dorchester.
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.
J.K. Rowling. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wik/J._K._ Rowling#Remarriage_and_family
Moise, C. (2014). Importance of beliefs, attitudes and values in the frame of human resource motivation. Annals of Spiru Haret University Economic Series. 188.8.131.52458/1422
As the term implies, self-belief is a person’s faith or complete trust and confidence in their abilities and skills and value as a human being. Consider it as a combination of self-confidence and self-worth.
Self-belief is an essential component in a person’s pursuit of success and happiness. If you don’t have it, don’t expect to achieve anything for without self-belief a person will never succeed in any kind of endeavor. But too much of it is not good either. An exaggerated opinion of one’s own qualities and abilities is called self-conceit. The Greeks refer to it as hubris.
Self-belief is a concept not difficult to comprehend yet not too many really know how having or not having it would affect their lives in general. Some may have chosen to disregard it not fully understanding the possible negative consequences for neglecting it.
If you won’t trust in your own abilities and skills… if you won’t believe that you are valuable, no else would. If you want others to believe in you, you have to convince them first that you believe in yourself. And even if nobody believes in you but yourself, you are in a strong position in life.
The issue is not what other people say and think about what you can and can’t do and achieve but rather whether or not you believe in your own capabilities and worth as a person. The disbelief of people around you won’t move the needle of your success. It is your self-belief that would. People not believing in you won’t kill your dreams and ambitions, your self-doubt would.
Self-doubt is by no means just a simple problem. It is a very serious one. A person is in serious trouble when they doubt themselves and when they think they are worthless. The failure of people to develop self-belief stems from them not understanding the nature of self-doubt. In a separate essay – “Self-doubt: The Unknown Sin” – I discussed the said concept extensively.
Self-belief should serve as the starting point of all self-improvement activities. Any personal growth and development program should start with the elimination of self-doubt. Imagine self-doubt as old wineskins and all the attitudes, beliefs, and skills you need for self-improvement, altogether, like new wine. You should not pour the new wine to the old wineskins. The Lord Jesus Christ warned – “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins (Mark 2:22).”
There are several constructs that are construed to be the same or somewhat related to self-belief, namely self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-image. These concepts have been explored extensively and a vast body of literature has been created for each of them. There are numerous articles available explaining how similar and different are they from each other. But if you examine the bottom lines of the said constructs, all of them lead to the notion that people need to develop their faith or complete trust and confidence in their abilities and skills and also to value themselves as human beings.
The primary objective of all activities recommended by experts for the improvement of self-concept, self-esteem , self-efficacy , and self-image is the development or strengthening of self-belief. If all ideas related to these constructs are to be synthesized into one single idea, very likely that that the term self-belief would be used.
This article does not intend to deal with specific details about these concepts but only their definitions to see how they relate to self-belief.
Let’s take a look at self-concept first. As explained by McLeod (2008), self-concept is a general term used to refer to “how people think about, evaluate, or perceive themselves. To be aware of oneself is to have a concept of oneself.” Additionally, “self-concept is an overarching idea we have about who we are—physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and in terms of any other aspects that make up who we are (Neill, 2005).”
Your self-concept is a collection of your beliefs about yourself.To be aware of what beliefs you hold about yourself is instrumental in the development of self-belief. Your self-concept would help you identify what negative perceptions you hold about yourself. Self-belief doesn’t mean ignoring or sweeping under the rag what you consider as your weaknesses but rather accepting them. But accept them only if after serious introspection you will find them to be true. What comes next after that is you exerting conscious efforts to address them. Self-concept enables you to identify what are your problems and deficiencies which need correction. The process of self-improvement includes not just finding and developing your strengths but also identifying your negative attributes and getting rid of them.
What about self-esteem? This concept refers to the extent to which we like, accept or approves of ourselves, or how much we value ourselves (McLeod, 2008).” Harter (1986) added that “self-esteem is the evaluative and affective dimension of the self-concept, and is considered as equivalent to self-regard, self-estimation, and self-worth.”
Think of self-esteem as a self-appraisal that leads to an honest valuation of yourself. The more positive is your self-appraisal (or the stronger your self-belief is) the higher is your self-esteem.
A low self-esteem – a person’s failure to value themselves as a human being – leads to a variety of problems that can affect a person’s personal and professional pursuits, health, and relationships.
If we go back to the definition of self-belief at the beginning of this article, we can say that half of this construct is self-concept and the other half is self-esteem.
Next is self-efficacy. Bandura (1994) defines the term as people’s belief about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves, and behave.
The foregoing definition shows the thin line that separates self-belief from self-efficacy. That thin line may not even exist.
“People with a strong sense of self-efficacy,” as Bandura explained, “develop a deeper interest in the activities in which they participate, form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities, recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments, and view challenging problems as tasks to be mastered.”
These exactly are what people with a strong self-belief (are and) do – they know what particular skills and capabilities they have, nurture and use them as leverage to achieve success; they are not afraid to fail and when they do they bounce back; and they face and conquer challenges and difficulties.
Seemingly, self-belief is just another word for self-efficacy.
Now, let’s take a look at self-image. The Meriam-Webster English Dictionary defines the said construct “as the way you think about yourself and your abilities or appearance.” That, too, is almost exactly how we define self-belief.
According to Dr. Maltz (1993), “Whether we realize it or not, each of us carries a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves. It may be vague and ill-defined to our conscious gaze. In fact , it may not be consciously recognizable at all. But it is there, complete down to the last detail. This self-image is our own conception of the ‘sort of person I am.’ It has been built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. But most of these beliefs have been formed from our own past experiences, our successes and our failures, and the way people have reacted to us.”
Bob Proctor once said that when you stand in front of a mirror you see a reflection of the physical you. But that’s not the real you. You also have a picture of yourself in your mind. That, according to him, is what Dr. Maltz postulated – that people have two images of themselves, the one that’s coming back from the mirror and the other one is their inner image.
The kind of inner image, that self-image you hold constitute your self-belief. If you have a poor self-image, it means you don’t have faith in your skills and capabilities and that you have a low self-worth.
There are a plenty to learn form the literature and studies conducted on self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-image. Anybody serious in developing a strong self-belief should take a look at them. What I presented in this article about the constructs aforementioned barely scratched the surfaces of each of them.
Let me end with a quote from Alexander Dumas:
“A man who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it.”
Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).
McLeod, S. A. (2008). Self concept. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/ self-concept.html
Neill, J. (2005). Definitions of various self constructs: Self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-confidence & self-concept. Wilderdom. Retrieved from http://www.wilderdom.com/self/
Harter, S. (1986). Processes underlying the construction, maintenance and enhancement of the self-concept in children. In Suls, J. and Greenwald, A.G. (eds), Psychological Perspectives on the Self. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, vol. 3, pp. 137–181
Maltz, M. (1993). Psycho-Cybernatics. New York: Prentice Hall Press.
I gathered in this part of my website the essays I have written about personal growth and development. I want to share the lessons and insights I learned from motivational speakers whose books (and videos on YouTube) have given me the blueprint on how best I could restructure my way of thinking so I could make better decisions in the different areas of my life.
I have been experiencing amazing changes in my life that I started regretting why didn’t I dig into these personal development stuffs when I was younger. I have heard a lot about “positive thinking” and related ideas before but I did not pay attention. But as the saying goes, “better late than never.”
I came to realize that “positive thinking” is but the first step in a person’s journey to a better self and a better life. It’s not the be-all-end-all of personal growth and development. But it all begins in setting a positive mindset. Positive actions should follow. People are in a better position to succeed when they break free from limiting beliefs and debilitating attitudes.
My goal in writing these essays and have them put together in this corner of my website is to help promote awareness on personal growth and development. I am not (yet) an expert in this field. I just want to share the little things I have learned so far and to say that I am so happy with the results I am getting.