Mark Matteson publishes his Sparking Success EZine Street newsletter on the first Wednesday of every month. The next newsletter will go out on May 4, 2016
Bracket Busting and Low Esteem?
by Mark Matteson
On a Monday night in 1985, my wife said, "We are going to a seminar on self-esteem tonight. Be ready to go at five pm," in a loving tone that only women can use. "Oh, hon, no can do. Villanova is playing Georgetown tonight. It's the Final Four, baby. You go, take some notes and I'll look 'em over when you get home. I'm going to watch the game." (This was pre-VCRs). She shot me the "Side-Long Glance." You know the one, fellas. It means, you better be there-or else. I complained all the way there.
NCAA Basketball's Final Four generates over $9 billion dollars a year in gambling revenue: brackets and betting, office pools and bragging rights. Like the Christmas holiday, for three weeks, very little work gets done. Seattle sports writer Art Thiel wrote, "Wagering on the March Madness at work can be a tricky deal. Shards of losers' broken brackets must be swept up, while the winners often do their best in every workplace, classroom or home to make themselves insufferable."
This isn't a new phenomenon. In 1314, English King Edward II issued a royal edict banning the game of soccer. It was a very popular game, but nevertheless the king threatened players with harsh prison terms. Why? The king considered the game "unprofitable" because it distracted men from archery practice, which was essential to the defense of their country. Without a populace of trained archers, he couldn't raise an effective army in times of crisis. Sound familiar? This time of year, around the water cooler, countless hours are spent moaning and wailing about busted brackets and Cinderella predictions dashed on the rocks.
Rollie Massimino's 1985 'Nova team eventually upset the best team in the country by shooting 79 percent from the field and beat a team they had lost to twice in the regular season. There were busted brackets and low self-esteems around the country. The most fanatic sports fans in the country live in Philadelphia. The Philly Faithful had bragging rights for a long time. Me? I missed the game.
I hate it when my wife is right. That seminar changed my life.
Self-Concept is a Four-Legged Chair
The Self-Concept is like a four-legged chair. If one or more legs are missing, we can't sit comfortably. One supports the next in a kind of positive circle of worth. It's important to understand each aspect. I will attempt to define and simplify each one in order.
- Self-Worth is the opinion you have about yourself. It's the value you place on yourself. With a positive sense of worth, you believe you are a good person who deserves good things. The opposite is equally true; you believe you are bad person who deserves bad things. Like the soil, which is neutral, it will grow corn or nightshade in equal measure. One is healthy and the other is deadly. The soil doesn't care which one you water. It's a choice, a decision. Denis Waitley said, "Relentless, repetitive self-talk is what changes our self-worth." So true.
- Self-Respect is regard for one's own standing or position. It is dignity, confidence with humility, self-awareness, and a healthy pride. It's knowing you are good and wearing it well. It's being right-sized. It's learning from the past and looking forward to the future with a positive expectancy. It's being able to say, "I like myself today," and believing it. Joyce Brothers said, "A strong, positive self-respect is the best possible preparation for success." Self-respect comes first and mutual respect follows. If I don't respect myself, how can I respect anyone else? One friend of mine calls it "self-love." I like that. If I don't love me, how can I love you?
- Self-Image is a thermostat setting. It's how you see yourself. It's your comfort zone. It's formed by feedback from coaches, teachers, parents, siblings, and others. Authorities in our life observe our behavior and report back to us. This solidifies how we see ourselves. It reinforces our belief about ourselves. It sets a pattern as to how we "talk to ourselves," positive or negative. It's your self-concept, your perception of you. In junior high, it begins with grade point average. With shame or regret, we say, "I'm a two-point-two GPA." Or, with great pride or humility, we say, "I'm a four-point-o!" We have one for every aspect of our life. Money, relationships, parenting, driving, and the list goes on and on. In his groundbreaking 1960 book, Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz wrote, "The 'self-image' is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self-image and you change the personality and the behavior. Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment."
- Self-Esteem is how we FEEL about ourselves. Brian Tracy said, "The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-esteem." Sadly, much of this begins at home, is reinforced at school, and solidified at work. Self-esteem is the integrated sum of self-confidence and self-respect, a sense of personal efficacy and a sense of personal worth. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart and business pioneer said, "Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."
In that seminar on that Monday night, I learned to say "thank you" when someone gave me a compliment. I used to argue with people when they said something nice. You can literally calibrate someone's self-esteem by offering up a sincere and heartfelt compliment. If they say thank you, that's healthy. If they dismiss it, you have some work ahead of you.
I'm excited about Monday night's game. I'm rooting for 'Nova! I'm not going anywhere. I'll be glued to the set. I wonder if my wife will come with me to watch the game out of pity. I betcha 'Nova wins! Hey, my bracket is busted.
Maybe I'll take up archery. I hope the Queen won't mind...
BOOK of the Month
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
By Nathaniel Branden
Nathaniel Branden's book is the culmination of a lifetime of clinical practice and study. It's already hailed in its hardcover edition as a classic and the most significant work on the topic. Immense in scope and vision and filled with insight into human motivation and behavior, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is essential reading for anyone with a personal or professional interest in self-esteem. The book demonstrates compellingly why self-esteem is basic to psychological health, achievement, personal happiness, and positive relationships. Branden introduces the six pillars-six action-based practices for daily living-that provide the foundatio
n for self-esteem-and explores the central importance of self-esteem in five areas: the workplace, parenting, education, psychotherapy, and the culture at large. The work provides concrete guidelines for teachers, parents, managers, and therapists who are responsible for developing the self-esteem of others. And it shows why-in today's chaotic and competitive world-self-esteem is fundamental to our personal and professional power.
"Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves."
"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance."
"If we are happy within ourselves, we don't accept or demand that our partner should fulfill every need. We need to be comfortable with our own company."
Mark resides in Edmonds, Washington and takes great pride in the fact he flunked high school English. To watch Markʼs demo video, go to: