Change, Vulnerability andĀ Self-Respect

Longfellow, Image by Wikipedia

“He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I am surrounded by people who aspire to excellence. They push themselves, dream big and take risks. They questions assumptions, test their limitations and welcome correction. They learn to use pressure to advantage, relax in discomfort and deal with awkwardness when moving from one chapter to the next in life.

One of the perils of personal development lurks in the no-man’s land between what you were and what you are becoming. You are constantly changing and as with walking, your progress is marked by an oscillation between balance and imbalance.

Most people don’t have a problem with the times of balance; it is the periods of imbalance that catch them off-guard. I’ve seen many people on the cusp of an important breakthrough in their lives come unglued or more often than not subtly undermine their own progress through self-doubt, reaction to pressure and fear of both success and failure.

When you are in the middle of a transition you are least stable. Practitioners of the martial arts Aikido are taught how to walk in a way that minimizes the natural instability between steps. Likewise, people who are effective when it comes to personal development learn to function in a way that they mitigate the risks of the instability, vulnerability and insecurity that often accompanies life changes.

One of the best ways to remain stable is to maintain your self-respect. Have confidence in the foundation of success you’re moving from and continue to move forward, without giving away your self-respect. Don’t revert to old habits that may have slowed or stunted your growth and development in the past; just keep moving.

Marcus Aurelius offered the timeless suggestion that you: “Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” Stay loose, remain flexible and and be wiling to look former limitations squarely in the eye and say: “thus far and no further.”

When it comes to excellence, don’t be afraid to take a stand. Even if your refusal to accept mediocrity attracts the jeers of those who despise you for bringing pressure on the status quo, there are those out there who will support you in your efforts to achieve the great goals you’ve set for yourself.

You were born to reveal excellence. Your life can be meaningful, purposeful and influential if you so choose. None can pierce the coat of mail that comes from a healthy and well-founded self-respect, so get out there and shine!