I do not like snakes, whether reptilian or human. When I read that the venomous snake count is rising dramatically, I felt "a tighter breathing and zero at the bone." Fortunately I have more control over the possibility of a snake gliding up to me than I do of a human serpent sidling into my presence. I have much control over how I react to either; I am not at the mercy of any snake.
I have been pondering human snakes, those champion brutes, for several months now. I wrote about them in my post on the workplace perils of being a jerk. And I wrote about them (calling them dragons) in my post "Tough the tragic dragon;" in the latter post I give some tips for snake control. Since my post on energizing and de-energizing people, I continue to hear Eleanor Roosevelt whispering these words in my head: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
I am reminded that snake consent is a choice each of us can make or choose against. There is an inverse relationship between snake consent and self-esteem. Examining that relationship gives us valuable insight. First, let's look at self-esteem. It has enjoyed so much media attention in the last few years that it perhaps has become trivialized. If we look back several years, we can find some definitions more multi-faceted and thoughtful than heard on Oprah.
Attention to the concept of self-esteem is not new. Abraham Maslow in the middle of the 20th century talked about esteem needs (both being appreciated by others and self-esteem) as essential to human development and productivity. More recently, Nathaniel Branden has written several books on self-esteem including his best-known The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem.
Brandon defines self-esteem as
the disposition to experience ourselves as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as being worthy of happiness.
The definition has two components: what he calls self-efficacy —
confidence in our ability to think, learn, choose, and make appropriate decisions
and what he calls self-respect —
confidence that achievement, success, friendship, respect, love, and fulfillment are appropriate for us.
In his book Self-Esteem At Work — How Confident People Make Powerful Companies, Branden writes about how employees with low self-esteem are financially detrimental to an organization. He says that high self-esteem correlates with other traits that are important to achievement, such as “creativity, independence, flexibility, ability to manage change, willingness to admit and correct mistakes, benevolence and cooperativeness.” Low self-esteem correlates with the traits opposite to those on the list, and so you can see why people of low self-esteem would be financially detrimental.
Branden presents many positive implications for the workplace when employees are of high self-esteem. In a coming post, I will include a list of 10 ways people of high self-esteem are workplace assets. I will also look at why people of high snake consent are people of low self-esteem.