Not Ready for Rejection

People with low self-esteem are frightened of change and risk. They wait for somebody else to step out first, and then maybe they’ll follow their footsteps.

Diane and I have traveled to some of the world’s finest resorts, and we’ve observed the children there. The high self-esteem kids are out having fun, experiencing adventures and meeting new friends. The low self-esteem kids spend days sitting in front of the television. Their parents say, “Why don’t you go to the pool and meet some other kids?” the kids respond with, “No, I want to watch this program.” Those kids are thinking, “Who would want to play with me? Nobody likes me at home, so who would want to be my friend here?”

Even if people want to meet new friends, they think, “I can’t. My self-image is so soft that one more blow will kill me. If I go out and you tell me I’m not worthy, I can’t take the hit. So I’ll stay here and protect myself.”

rejection photo

You’ll find people in your companies, in your offices, on your teams, who think and act like that. They say, “I could’ve taken on that other company, but I didn’t want to. They aren’t worth my time.” “I could have told the boss about the new product, but I didn’t want to. She wouldn’t care.” “I could’ve played with that team on the weekend, but I didn’t want to. They’re a lousy team.”

The real reason and they won’t say this out loudis, “I’m frightened to death.” So instead, you may see them criticizing those who do take risks and try the new. That’s because people with low self-esteem are threatened by people with high self-esteem. They need to rip and tear at them to put them in their place. And where is that? “Below me!”

How far can you lead other people? No further than you can get them to see themselves doing it. You, as the leader, may be able to see yourself doing it, but if they can’t see themselves doing it, they’ll lag behind. You can’t get them to participate because they can’t see it. You may then resort to intimidation or force or bullying, trying to push people to where you think they belong.

“Send Us Anywhere!”

If you have high team esteem, you’re not afraid to take risks, to venture out of your comfort zone, and to attack life as an adventure.

Suppose someone tells a high self-esteem team, “You can’t do it. You don’t have the skill.”

They’ll respond, “Maybe not now, but we’ll learn it.”

“You’ve never even done it before.”

“Yes, but it’ll be fun learning how.”

“Look at the competition they’ll eat you alive.”

“We don’t even think about the competition.”

High self-esteem people don’t consider situations as “risks.” They think they can handle anything, an attitude that helps them build scotomas to risk.

In doing some research on high-performance thinking, I had the chance to spend time with some of America’s elite commandos. I helped debrief some of them when they came back from the Vietnam war. I was interested in knowing, “How do they think?”

Learning how these people are trained was a revelation to me. My concept of military training was people being bullied, belittled, embarrassed, demeaned. In fact, that’s the way I used to coach football. I’d run my players down, tell them how wimpy and cowardly they were, hoping to motivate the man then I’d say, “Now go out and win!” I’d humiliate them all week, and then on Saturday, they’d go out and perform in the game like the humiliated wimps they believed they were. That was the team esteem I inspired. I was ignorant of how to train high-performance people.

failure and success

When I dealt with our commandos, I found out for the first time that when they’re in training, no one ever devalues, criticizes negatively, belittles, or demeans them. Their goal is to elevate self esteem in the individual and in the group. So they instill pride, worthiness, excellence, capability, and success. To these commandos, no assignment is too tough. They think they can do anything they’re asked to do. Because of their exceptionally positive training, these elite commandos were willing to take risks commensurate with their high self-esteem. The better they felt about themselves, the more risk they were comfortable with.

As a result of their training, elite commandos come to expect the highest performance out of their equipment, the utmost support from their staff, and continual success from themselves. They have the self-assurance and high team esteem: “We’re the best.”

People around those commandos are constantly putting them up, positively affirming and re-affirming, “You are the world’s finest. You’ve got what it takes.” So these people think, “We can do anything. Send us anywhere!”

Hopefully, this story will give you an idea of how to treat your spouse, your children, your employees, your team mates. Think about it:

Are your people treated like wimps or like elite commandos? Do they expect excellence from themselves? Are they willing to take risks? Whom do you surround yourself with people with high self esteem or people whose self-esteem is lower than yours? Do your family or team members think, “We can do anything”? Do they attack conflicts and problems like elite commandos? Or do they believe they’re outer-directed and dependent on “lucky breaks”?

You can raise your self-esteem, and the esteem of others, by controlling your self-talk and your team talk. Look for ways to affirm yourself with your self-talk, and to catch your people in the act of doing things right. From now on, tell them, “Hey, you’re good. You’re one of the best. I like the way you do things.” By positively affirming them, you become a powerful, significant, positive wizard to the people around you.

Your team esteem is challenged when you get away from the familiar and tackle new situations. If you’re not careful, you might succumb to negative criticism. And then self-doubt brings on hesitation, which can bring on failure.

When you’re feeling vulnerable, you build scotomas to the positive about yourself and your team. “We’re no better or different.” You constantly bolster your team esteem so that whenever you move into something unique, you’re thinking like elite commandos: “We can do it. Send us anywhere!”

Don’t dwell on the negative things that happen, but think about your successes, especially when you set new goals. To build your group efficacy, you need to reflect on your success, which causes you to assimilate it, and then project it into the future.

When you train your team, ask them to reflect on their accomplishments, and then guide their forethought into the future with the same emotion. Ask them, “What did we do today that we’re proud of? What are we looking forward to tomorrow?” That’s how you establish the new reality.

One way to build your team resiliency is to make a list of 10 things that went wrong in your business a bankruptcy, a goal that you set and failed to meet, a product failure, a service snafu, a relationship failure and then to review that list and remember how well you recovered from those events. Then take that same emotion forward into your new aspiration, and say, “We’ll do great; and even if it doesn’t come off as planned, we’ll recover from that, too.” You lead and communicate better with people when you remind them of the difficulties or trials they’ve been through, and overcome. “We came back; we’re tough. So give us another one. And if we don’t do it? It’ll hurt, but we’ll bounce back.”

Also, ask your team members to make a list of 10 things that they’ve done well. Let them go back in time and record and assimilate their successes so they can repeat and build on them.

how to treat people

Celebrate your team success. Don’t pass too lightly and too quickly on to something else. Get into the fun habit of going back and using past events to create future success. Take time to enjoy your accomplishments. If you pass too quickly and too lightly over your team successes and recoveries, you and your team members won’t assimilate them to add to your efficacy. In your family, teams, and organizations, you need to assimilate those positive qualities and accomplishments through affirmation.