Do you encourage others but ignore yourself?


How many times have you read a fellow entrepreneur’s story and thought, “Now there’s someone who’s really successful”? How often do you downplay your own accomplishments? When was the last time you turned away a compliment?

If you answered “many”, “often”, and “today”, you’re one of a large group of people who have perfected a technique for sabotaging success: refusing to acknowledge your own accomplishments, much less your own brilliance.

Chances are that you’ve been taught to be the queen of double standards when it comes to acknowledging and celebrating achievements. By this, I mean you may be holding yourself to an unreasonably higher standard of performance than you do anyone else. What’s impressive for someone else is not so impressive when it’s you.

Why is this such a common problem for talented entrepreneurs? The reason will naturally vary from one individual to the next, but many common causes for this double standard have their roots in messages we received in childhood:


I see two implicit messages that are common threads in all these messages:

  1. You’re dependent on other people for validation.
  2. You have no right to validate yourself.

If you take these messages to heart, you’ll damage your self-esteem, destroy your confidence, and rob yourself of personal power. Not exactly a recipe for success in business OR in life.


Do you have the courage to respect and admire yourself?


So what can you do to start changing these unhelpful messages you may have taken to heart? Here are some approaches I’ve found very useful.

Accept compliments. Period.

This is simultaneously one of the easiest and hardest things to do. If you’re not in the habit of accepting compliments, it’s easy to deflect them with a “yes, but” or an eye-roll indicating disagreement. The challenge—and the powerful response—is to reply with a smile and a simple “thank you.”

Use objective assessments to highlight your strengths.

I addressed this in more depth in an earlier post. The bottom line is this: Since many assessments are based on your own (honest) responses, you don’t have to tell yourself anything like “she was just being nice to me in saying that.” You can bask in this objective description of all the strengths you bring to the table, whether as a business owner or family member.

Monitor your first reactions.

Have you ever given yourself a mental high five for something, only to immediate back-pedal and think about everything you weren’t pleased with? Stop it!! Enjoy your accomplishment. You can celebrate AND look forward to doing even better the next time; that’s vastly different than tarnishing your current achievement because you chose to focus on what wasn’t “perfect.” There’s always room for improvement, and so what? Good performance is good performance, and it always deserves acknowledgment.

View your accomplishments as if they belong to someone else.

This is one of my absolute favorite strategies, not only because it’s so effective, but because I get such a kick from the way it tends to stop my over-achieving clients dead in their tracks. Here’s how it works.

Assume that one of your ideal prospects has narrowed her choice of service provider to you and another professional in your field. Now imagine how that other professional is likely to feel, looking at your qualifications and knowing that’s what she’s competing against. Chances are she’d realize she’s up against a powerhouse; she might even feel a little intimidated to realize just how much you have to offer the prospect.

When you can step outside your own skin and view your talents as another person would, it makes it easier to truly see and acknowledge the talents and strengths that are already a basic part of you. And once you see them, it’s time for a happy dance!

Authenticity is powerful.


Have you made the switch from downplaying your abilities to claiming and celebrating them? If so, what helped you make that switch?

Or do you feel that you don’t have much to celebrate yet, either because you’re spinning your wheels or because you just can’t seem to get off dead center? If that’s the case, perhaps I can help.

My specialty is showing stuck entrepreneurs how to calmly and confidently take purposeful action toward creating the results they yearn for. I am totally the wrong fit for some people and totally the right fit for others.

The only way to find out if you and I would be effective partners in propelling you toward your goals is to get acquainted through a phone call. In just 30 or 40 minutes, we’d have a chance to ask each other enough questions that we’d both know whether we’d work well together or not.

What do you think? Is it worth some time to find out if this is a path to creating more celebration-worthy accomplishments? If so, let’s set up that get-acquainted conversation. Just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “Time to celebrate?” in the subject line. The very least you’ll get out of it is a chance to celebrate having been courageous enough to explore a new option!

(By the way, thanks to Celestine Chua for the image with the great Ziggy Marley quote; she posted it in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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