1. Important people listen to me when I talk, because I have something of value to say. Make this affirmation over and over to boost your esteem as a leader. If you don’t keep increasing your own esteem, you won’t raise your aspirations and expectations of others. Reflect on times when important people listened to you. As you reflect, you cause your esteem to rise. You can then reverse the affirmation: “I listen carefully to other people because they have something of value to say.” You will then pay closer attention when your children or colleagues are talking. You won’t just be there in body; you’ll get genuinely caught up in what they are saying not necessarily for what they are saying, but for who they are and what they mean to you.

2. I am an important and valuable person, worthy of the respect of people who are important to me. I have made this one for years. I can’t be important to the billions of people in the world. I can be important, though, to people who are important to me.

When you know that you are a person of value, you feel worthy of the respect of others. You carry yourself in a way that says, “I’m worthy of respect.” And people will send that same message back to you.

You get back what you send. As you respect yourself more, people treat you with more respect.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. One of our adopted children had been very badly abused before we got him. And when we sent him to first grade, the kids picked on him. Every year the kids picked on him. We put him into a new junior high school where nobody knew him, and still people picked on him. He went to a new high school where nobody knew him, but people picked on him. He went into the military, and the sergeant picked on him. He got a job but lost it because people picked on him.

We bought him a tow truck and set him up in a small business. He came home a few weeks later and said, “I quit.”

I said, “How come?”

He said, “Bill (his office manager) is picking on me.” I said, “You can’t quit. You own the business.”

You see, if you think in your own mind, “I’m not worthy,” you set yourself up to be picked on.

I said to him, “If you don’t change how you feel about yourself on the inside, this cycle will not change. You set yourself up for a string of bad luck.”

He just grinned. But he still has his “bad luck.”

As a parent, coach or leader, you may see your people in an ideal state way out into the future, but you’ve got to speak to them with goals that they can connect with. If you talk too far out, they get intimidated by it; or they can’t imagine it. For example, you don’t talk to a five-year-old about going to a university. You want to trigger imagery that the kid can connect with. So you talk about the first grade. You talk where they can connect in a constructive way and make it exciting. If you only talk to the vision “out there,” which is a mistake I’ve made many times, you may be talking to people who can’t even imagine it, and so they just grin at you. They won’t connect with it or buy in.