2007 Winter/Spring Volume 7 No. 1
Self-Esteem Yields True Success
By Gregg de Long, Southwest Regional Manager, PolyJohn Enterprises Corporation
Over the years the word “pride” has gotten a bad reputation. It has been called one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and old sayings like “Pride goes before a fall” remind us to never get too uppity or we’ll get what’s coming to us.
On the other hand, we are taught from our earliest schooling to be proud of our country and our heritage. And, one of the wisest men of all time, Aristotle, said that pride was the highest of all virtues.
It seems that pride has two faces—false pride and genuine or earned pride. False pride is just dumb arrogance—the kind you see too much in dishonest politicians and overpaid athletes who talk a good game but who don’t produce when push comes to shove.
The reason Aristotle called pride the “greatest virtue” was that he said to be truly proud of yourself, you had to have all the other virtues combined—honesty, integrity, intelligence, strength and inde-pendence. I think a more commonly understood word for this type of pride is self-esteem.
Self-esteem serves two very important roles. First, to maintain it we need to do our best all the time—so it’s a reminder to excel. Secondly, self-esteem makes us feel good about ourselves so it comes as a reward for being good at what we do.
No one likes the feeling of losing self-esteem. Everytime we shirk our responsibilities or fail to meet expectations, our self-esteem slips a little bit. Everytime someone ridicules us or reminds us of our failings (real or imagined), it slips even more.
Some folks lie to themselves to fill the void left by a sinking self-esteem and they replace it with false pride or other substitutes like drugs or alcohol.
The people who make a difference in this world however, work twice as hard after a failure to get their lost self-esteem back. This is the attitude we should strive to have and what we should look for in the people we hire for our businesses.
There are four qualities that contribute to self-esteem:
1. It is based on objective experience at meeting rational goals. Don’t think you’re the greatest golfer in the world if you’ve never broken 100 and don’t plan to be the greatest basketball player in the world if you are short and slow.
2. It comes from a belief in your own basic worth and the right to your rewards and your happiness. People who under value themselves and their work lose self-esteem.
3. It comes to those who are truly loved and admired by friends, family, and acquaintances. The opinion of others matters because it often reflects a personal reality.
4. It comes from accomplishing productive and necessary work. You contribute in a positive way to other people’s lives and work. Low self-esteem doesn’t mean you’re a bad person; it is simply a measuring gauge of where you are now. However, self-esteem can be raised at any time by making a conscious and realistic attempt to do the right thing.
Self-esteem is a little like money: more is always better. Not everyone has the same amount. You earn it for a job well done. And, it feels good to share it with others.
Self-Esteem is Good for Your Business and the Industry as a Whole
I have found that some people in this business have low self-esteem and it not only hurts their business but the entire industry. They call their profession all manner of bad names and disguise it as humor. They sit by the phone and wait to be called because they don’t have the confidence to go out and ask for busi-ness. And, they sell themselves short by low-balling prices to get new business, rather than talking about the great services they offer.
From my perspective, there are four basic needs in life—food, health, housing, and sanitation. Our industry provides one of them. As an industry, we can and should be held in the same high regard as the other three—but it starts with self-esteem.
A chef who calls himself a “grub slinger” wouldn’t get respect from others nor would a surgeon who calls himself “sawbones.” So, when we routinely refer to ourselves as “shit pumpers,” we must understand that this lowers self-esteem and pride for ourselves, our employees and the entire industry.
If I had to choose one quality that all my most successful customers have in common, it is self-esteem and a genuine pride in their business.
If you want to start building the self-esteem of your company, your employees and yourself, here are some suggestions that work:
1. Provide the best service you can and train employees to do the same.
2. Dress professionally and provide uniforms for employees.
3. Always refer to your profession as providing sanitation not something that devalues the industry.
4. Share your success with local charities (sponsor a Little League team, donate service for a cancer walk, or other charitable event).
5. Become active in PSAI (Portable Sanitation Association International). This is a great organization that can provide training and certification for your employees.
6. Hold the line on prices—the service is worth what you charge!
7. Learn local sanitation codes so you can teach customers and enforce them within your business.
8. Become active in the local Chamber of Commerce. Ask about others’ businesses and express genuine interest in what they do before you ask for business cards. Offer to send them information, a brochure, a contact or other resource—but be sure to follow through.
9. Write a press release to the local newspaper about your business when it achieves a milestone, gains a new customer, promotes from within or makes a new hire.
10. Develop professional marketing materials such as business cards, a website or brochure.
11. Invite customers to lunch, golf, or fish as their equal, not their servant.
12. Tell your kids you’re a sanitation professional and speak at their school on career day.
13. Become a leader in your church or local government.
High self-esteem makes networking, connecting, sharing and reaching out to our community and competitors positive and profitable for everyone. I believe the greatness of the portable sanitation business obligates us to incorporate these principles into our day-to-day business practices. I hope you feel the same.
Portable Sanitation is the kind of business that everyone can be proud of—it protects the environment, public health, and it provides a welcome comfort at special, important and emergency events. We make it possible for people to work outdoors. We follow our troops into battle. We are the first responders during emergencies like hurricanes, wild fires and earthquakes. We were onsite the day after 9/11. And everyday we help build America and keep it clean.
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