How good are you at putting yourself first? How healthy is your sense of self worth? Is it too low, too high or what would make it “just right”?
Putting Yourself First (Audio)
When I say “putting yourself first”, what thoughts does that invoke? Can you relate to that or do you think it’s “over the top”? Do you usually find yourself needing to strive to be “first” or is it hard for you to see that for yourself? How well can you find the right balance between these two so that you can comfortably vary your behaviour between these two positions? You know, knowing when to have to “push” to put yourself first and when to comfortably “go with the flow”? And what do you need to do consistently to keep assuring yourself that you get and stay on top of your game and ahead of the rest?
I have often recommended reading George Clason’s book “The richest man in Babylon”. I believe it is a great analogy for “putting yourself first”. In it he suggests that we need to get into the habit of “paying ourselves first” and does so in the context of us committing a percentage (say 5 or 10%) of every dollar earned to “us” first. I have learned that it isn’t so much the percentage that matters as the habit of doing this without fail.
Most people are conditioned to pay everyone else first and then use what is left for ourselves. By that I mean that off every income, the first things that go are taxes and superannuation deductions. Whilst you would be surprised what a good accountant can leverage for you in terms of when and how much tax is deducted, I guess these items are not really very negotiable. However, everything else that follows in terms of outgoings is in your control.
Putting (paying) yourself first
Now I’m not advocating that you should refrain from or delay the payment of your bills, but in It’s not what you make – it’s what you keep as well as in The 5% that know WHY I speak of the importance of living within or below your means, and that most people spend more than necessary on “lifestyle” and often run out of money before they run out of month. This is exacerbated by most households not having a budget to guide them and keep them on track of their financial plans. And so we seem often or normally to “put others first” and end up with what is left at the end of the month, which is often not very much, right?
Australians have never had more personal savings than in the present and most recent times. Brought about by the fear of the unknown in the volatility of markets, European economies and interest rates etc, we are “sitting on our wallets”. That’s great, but will we be able to sustain that in the event of things “getting better again”? Also, what are we doing with those funds we have saved? Are they being actively put to work for us, or are they “just sitting there”
George Clason is saying very strongly that we can be firmly in control of how we spend and save our income. I believe that includes “putting ourselves first, which entails having a plan and focusing that whatever we earn gets initially dedicated to what matters to us, including us budgeting for saving and investment and recreation in the same way as we budget and allocate funds for expenses and bills, not the other way around.
In the above blogs I am hopefully just as strongly trying to emphasize the same point. What does that take, do I hear you ask? Discipline.
I have led into this article using the financial aspects of “putting ourselves first” because it is something most people can relate to; albeit from different perspectives whether you are already practicing that or still thinking or talking about it.
Making it personal
If we now broaden the topic beyond the realms of our finances, and look at it more generally in terms of our “life’s success”, then there are many factors that need to come into play.
Of course our conditioning and the way we see the world (remember we don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are in terms of all our filters and Beliefs plays a large part in this.
I am also not suggesting that we will want to be excessive in this notion of “putting ourselves first” in terms of overly aggressive or arrogant “I win – you lose” attitudes. But I am suggesting that overly humble attitudes here will get us overtaken by external circumstances if we allow them to. Why? Because I believe they are indicative of certain obstacles in our perceptions of our Self Worth, influenced by our Self Talk and our Self Doubt, which we can begin to overcome by what I wrote in Confidence, Certainty and Doubt.
In the closing chapter of my impending book “Life Learnings of a Life Coach” I quote Carl Jung to say: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” which I thought so beautifully encapsulates so many of the things we perceive and allow to be holding us back. With other words, many of our “obstacles” play out as patterns “below the surface” without us being consciously aware of them; and that they will continue to do so until we recognize them and deal with them. I believe that is part of “putting ourselves first”. Calling them fate is the “cop-out” we can hide behind.
The success pyramid
In a number of coaching sessions in the last couple weeks my clients and I came to the realization of the existence of what we called a “success pyramid”. By that I mean a series of behavioral development steps or rungs that over time will lead to our enhanced success, whatever success means to you (that is, not just financial).
Whilst probably extremely simplified for the purposes of this blog article, essentially it is what I have been writing about over the last three years and what I so strongly focus on in my above-mentioned book.
It will probably not come as a Surprise!to you that the first and bottom rung of this pyramid is Discipline. It is all the little things (that is important, not urgent) that we do on a daily basis and how we value them and how we do them that really matters. Every successful athlete or individual person that is considered successful will differentiate luck from success by virtue of the discipline they needed to apply to achieve their successful outcomes.
If we combine the most important of these disciplined behaviours into groups, again differentiating “good” ones from “bad” one’s, then we have a series of Habits, the adherence to on a daily, weekly, monthly basis will undoubtedly drive us closer to the successful outcomes we seek, right? I have unequivocally learned that it is the development and adherence to such “good” habits that creates the momentum and the drives for our ongoing success. This then is the next rung in that success pyramid.
Playing these (often little things) out fastidiously grows confidence in our ability, our approach and our results. It affects our belief in ourselves. I have learned from very personal experience that confidence is something that takes time to develop, that it isn’t something we are either born with or not, but rather something we develop by choice. Carl Jung’s above mentioned observation is key to that. In the time that this might take for different people that all have different learning curves, I advocate that we can choose – even in the face of lacking confidence – to act with certainty, provided our certainty is greater than our own doubt and greater than any doubt those we are interacting with may have of our (competence or) confidence, the next rung in the pyramid.
And so over time these habits, played out with discipline and certainty grow into confidence.
I have learned that real success doesn’t arrive or end with confidence. What my clients and I agreed was desirable at this point in the pyramid, was to develop another rung or another step, namely real Presence. By this I mean the being seen and recognized as an authority in our chosen field or through our behaviour as a leader. A dawning realization that everyone (including yourself) notices how people are looking to you for direction, for answers, for the next steps in the journey. I have learned that this isn’t measurable in set time-frames or in extent, but that hindsight suddenly has us notice that it has come about. Often it is the coach or other supportive partners that have to make the client aware of it having occurred.
Ironically, when we have reached this threshold in the success pyramid we are discussing today, we no longer need to “put ourselves first”. Our presence will have others do that for us.
So what does all this mean for you? Can you relate to the success goal of achieving such “presence” that people look to you for answers? Could it be that you have reached another threshold in your life’s work or your life’s journey? That this is the time to “put yourself first” and by investing in yourself in this way to pro-actively drive this next chapter in your success?
Is this something you strive towards, no matter what your chosen path or profession or endeavour? Can you see the value of that?
If so, and you feel you aren’t there yet, what will it take and what will you start doing differently from Monday to develop the discipline and the habits that will grow that confidence and that presence that will make the difference in you being the best you that you can be?
What if you could?