Man holding forehead against backdrop of treesIn my role as a manager, a team facilitator, and a coach, I am always intrigued by how people value themselves (or don’t), and the way their self-image aligns, or doesn’t, with what others see.

How many times have we heard stories of famous people who were turned down time after time and went onto to create bestsellers? How often have you encountered someone who didn’t fare well working for a particular boss, company or industry, and went on to become a successful executive, entrepreneur, or writer once they found their right place?

What is it that allows some people to take the viewpoints of others, incorporate their feedback, and then do it anyway? How does that differ for those who take on the viewpoints of others like a ball and chain, weighing them down and keeping them stuck?

Have you ever been impacted by a devaluing naysayer? Someone who focused on what you couldn’t do or told you your goal or dream was impossible to achieve? Did you ever hear any of the following statements?

You will never amount to anything.
You will never get into that school.
That company won’t hire you.
What makes you think you can write a book?

These phrases come from many different sources – parents and other family members, teachers and guidance counselors, well-meaning friends, bosses, and even personality assessments. Devaluers may feel better about themselves by putting others down, or they may love to judge or criticize. Often, they may connect to the perspective of what is missing (i.e. lack).

Listening to the feedback of others can provide valuable input for refining our goals and defining our personal development plans. At the same time, it is just as important to realize that what you can achieve is not defined by the perspective of others. One of the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) presuppositions is that “there is no such thing as failure, only feedback”. Knowing that the perspective and feedback of others comes through their personal filters (their map of the world), can any one of us truly know what another person is capable of? What if the great success stories who were rejected over and over like Einstein, Dr. Seuss, had listened to those who couldn’t see their value and stopped?

We also have to be careful to avoid becoming self-naysayers, which can happen when we start to engage in comparisons. Our society seems to encourage comparison with rankings, test scores, and our overall need to keep up with the “Joneses”. In its negative form, comparison can lead to never feeling good enough, jealousy, hopelessness, and frustration. Comparison can also be used to propel us forward when we compare ourselves to determine how we might have done better, (assuming we want to).

Here’s the big question. Do you see your own value or is it shaped by the opinions of others? When was the last time you valued yourself or those you care about most in your life, when you looked for all the good that is present in your life?

If you feel there is something more you can accomplish in life – a bigger job, more money, better health, or achieving your childhood dream – but are missing a clear compelling vision, are influenced by naysayers, or have your own internal devaluer, this might be a great time to contact Systems of Change for a free consultation.