Leadership Through Personal Awareness
Leo Bogee, Jr.


What is self-worth? When you first saw the word self-worth, did you immediately think it's just another name for self-esteem? I think most people believe the terms are synonymous. They are not synonymous. Self-worth is not self-esteem!

Before defining self-worth, let's take a look at the definition of self-esteem. The World Book Dictionary, a Thorndike-Barnhart Dictionary, defines self-esteem as "thinking well of oneself; self-respect." The concept of someone having self-esteem was first conceived in the year 1657. It wasn't until 308 years later, 1965, that self-worth was recognized as a separate concept. Even today, many dictionaries still define self-worth as self-esteem.

If self-esteem is "thinking well of oneself," then what is esteem? Esteem is a very favorable opinion or high regard for someone or something. If someone has a very favorable opinion or high regard for someone else, then what is that esteem actually based on? The esteem is based on something someone has actually done. The person in question is being esteemed for their skills in acting, sports, politics, education, etc., or on anything that involved their ability to do something.

I view self-esteem as a measure of how well our physical or Human Self is able to perform or accomplish something. The esteem comes from sources OUTSIDE of ourselves. Although the term self-esteem implies we are esteeming ourselves, in actuality, the esteem is coming to us from another source. The criteria for esteem is determined by others. Our performance is measured against that criteria and the acknowledgment follows. The better our performance, the higher the esteem awarded to it. However, no matter how much esteem we receive based on our ability or our performance, we are not always able to accept it or to receive it.

You must be in the present to receive self-esteem.

For example:

Someone has just received the highest award in their field of endeavor. They are publicly acknowledged in newspapers, magazines, and on television. They are invited as a guest on all the major TV Talk Shows, in other words, they are placed on top of the world. Then without any warning, this person who is the envy, role model, hero, or champion of millions of esteeming people, commits suicide.
How could they possibly do such a terrible thing? Their "self-esteem" was as high as it could possibly be and yet it didn't save them.

This example is no longer the exception to the rule; it is the rule. How can that be true with all of the focus on self-esteem courses and programs? How can that be true with the flood of people being licensed in the psychiatric and psychological fields of medicine each year? The answer can be simply stated, but not simply understood. As matter of fact, the answer was stated in the opening paragraph. Self-worth is not self-esteem!

So, what is self-worth?

The World Book Dictionary defines self-worth as "a favorable estimate or opinion of oneself; self-esteem." The World Book Dictionary recognizes the distinction in concept, however, it does not recognize the distinction in meaning. I view self-worth as a measure of the availability of our Spirit or Being Self to believe in ourselves. Self-worth comes from a source on the INSIDE of us. We create it through Faith, by acting on the singular belief that we matter. Self-worth is the foundation of our ability to believe in ourselves.

Self-worth is the portal through which self-esteem is received.

Self-worth and self-esteem are vital beliefs for empowering oneself. A valid sense of self-worth is necessary in order to attain love, peace, joy, power, and a sound mind. A valid sense of self-worth precludes the possibility of committing suicide. Without self-worth, doubts and fears about our very existence will persist until they invalidate our dreams and vision, and undermine our greatest accomplishments.


Homepage Levels of Existence Leadership Styles People skills Copyright © 1997, 1998 Leo Bogee, Jr.