My 4-year-old son caught my attention the other day with a simple announcement: "I'm special and important." He uttered this statement with complete conviction. Curious, I asked, "Who did you talk to about that?" He said, "No one. I told myself that." Again, stated with complete conviction.
As his mother, I felt gratitude and pride that he feels special and important. As a student of human nature, I was fascinated. My sense has long been that many children do experience themselves as precious - at least as babies or toddlers. Then well-meaning socialization begins and we're told not to get "big heads" or grow "too big for our britches." The quest to make sure kids don't become arrogant can be misguided since, in reality, only insecure people project arrogance.
What do "secure" people project? Value. They are intrinsically and internally conscious of their value as human beings. They acknowledge the contributions they make while remaining aware of personal blindspots and shortcomings. Valuing who you are and what you do is a world apart from arrogance.
Earlier in my coaching career, I spoke with a colleague about feeling unappreciated for some of my work. She responded with a comment I've never forgotten: "When you start acknowledging yourself and your contributions, other people will begin acknowledging you as well." She was right. Acknowledgment is an inside-out proposition. When you acknowledge yourself internally, the external world responds favorably.
Too often, we fall prey to seeking approval from others. We hope that if we fill ourselves with enough external approval, we'll miraculously feel better about ourselves. We think that unless we're externally validated, we can't internally acknowledge ourselves.
Don't get me wrong - I love approval as much as anyone else. If approval happens to naturally come your way, soak it up! But you'll find your source of true power in the acts of approving, acknowledging and valuing yourself.
How do you value yourself? Sometimes when I discuss this concept with clients, the ones who have never acknowledged their value feel challenged emotionally to do so now. Consider the following acts of personal acknowledgment:
A few years ago, a business associate told me, "You're an ace, but you don't know it." I thought, "What if that's true? What if I am an ace and I don't know it? What's possible from that perspective?"
Take it from me: acknowledging your value is powerful, and fully feeling that power will skyrocket your capacity to change, to connect with what's meaningful and ignite some serious internal combusting of positive energy. Wow.
Also, unless you're as enlightened as the Dalai Lama or Eckhart Tolle you can't value yourself enough. Even if you feel joyful, powerful and positive, stretch your acknowledgment of yourself even further. The more you experience this, the greater your impact on others and the world. So value yourself - it's universally beneficial.
What if you're an ace and you don't know it? Just think what you can accomplish with that bit of wisdom driving you.