The Ultimate Key to Happiness and Success

High Self-esteem

There is one necessary and essential ingredient for happiness and success. It is high self-esteem. In previous newsletters, I have explained how your self-concept controls your performance. Simply put, if you think you are a loser, you will perform as a loser. If you think you are winner, you will perform as a winner. If you think you are mediocre, your performance will be mediocre.

High self-esteem is your armor against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as Hamlet might say. High self-esteem is your armor against rejection, disappointment, and criticism that we all experience in our daily lives. If your self-esteem is high, you will shrug off rejection, disappointment and criticism. You will forge ahead to reach your goals and succeed.

The Answer to Attaining High Self-esteem

To have High Self-esteem you need ongoing positive attention from others. It is essential. Positive attention is called a positive stroke. Eric Berne coined the term “stroke” to denote a unit of human recognition.

Why It’s Called ‘Strokes’

Here’s a true story that explains the source of the term, ‘stroke.’ An orphanage in Romania had 50 infants with only two nurses to care for them night and day. It took all the nurses time and energy to prepare the formula and feed the babies. They had to prop the babie’s bottles up on a pillow, insert the nipple in their mouth and go on to the next baby. The babies were well fed, they were warm and kept clean. Outside of this, they received no attention. The mortality rate was enormous.

A solution was found When Renee Spitz studied the problem at this and similar orphanages. Autopsies of deceased infants revealed that the baby’s spines were shriveled up. The doctors prescribed physical stroking for new babies. Volunteers came in and simply stroked each infant. These babies survived. From these studies, the term ‘strokes’ was conceived. Although the strokes given the infants where physical, the term was expanded to include psychological strokes because they have effects similar to physical strokes. A psychological stroke is any kind of attention — a greeting, a look, a word, a gesture, or any act that says “I know you’re here.”

Strokes are essential Not only for high self-esteem, they are essential for emotional and physical health. The power of strokes varies from a weak nod from a stranger to intense love between lovers.

People hunger for strokes And will go to surprising lengths to satisfy that hunger. You need to have your stroke hunger satisfied to feel good about yourself and have high self-esteem.

Positive Strokes and Negative Strokes

Strokes are either positive or negative. Positive strokes are honest, direct, appropriate, and relevant to the situation. They leave the person feeling good, alive, alert and significant.

Positive strokes can be an expression of affection or appreciation: “You saved the day by finishing that report.” “It’s a pleasure to work in the same office with you.”

Positive strokes can be complements: “Your proposal is clear, concise, and what we need.” “Your flowers brighten up the office.”

Negative Strokes Some strokes are negative. A slap in the face, a criticism, a rejection are negative strokes and invite low self-esteem.

Someone can use positive words to give a negative stroke. For instance, if someone says, “Your proposal is clear, concise, and what we need,” in a sarcastic tone, the effect is a negative stroke. Many people say they fear and hate rejection. Taking rejection as a personal discount of yourself diminishes your self-esteem. You feel less okay about yourself. That hurts. No wonder people fear and hate rejection.

In the business world, you cannot avoid getting negative strokes. The reality is that people have their own agendas. They may not want what you have to offer. Another source of negative strokes that you should understand is that there are a surprising number of people who make themselves feel better by putting others down. Sometimes you become their target through no fault of your own.

One defense is to withdraw and not be active. Obviously, this guarantees No action means no results, no business. A better defense than withdrawing is to have very high self-esteem so that you can shrug off negative strokes and continue doing business.

Building Positive Self-esteem with Strokes One of the ways to build your self-esteem is to put yourself into situations where you receive strong positive strokes. A loving supportive relationship with your mate is a great help. Choosing positive friends and colleagues is another good source of positive strokes. Joining a support group is an excellent strategy. This is the power of mastermind groups. You can hire a coach. A business coach is trained to give you positive strokes in the form of honest feedback and encouragement.

Giving positive strokes to others will also do wonders for your own self-esteem. Take every opportunity to acknowledge someone. Thank people. Give sincere complements and honest positive evaluations of colleagues’ performances. Countless studies have shown that focusing on positive behaviors results in higher performance than focusing on the negative.

Avoid giving negative strokes. It can be very seductive to give “constructive criticism.” Engage in this only when asked and you are sure the request is genuine. Avoid the “I’m only trying to help you” game like the plague.

Losers build up their self-esteem by tearing down people. Winners build up their self-esteem by building up people.


To achieve ultimate happiness and success, you need to have a winner mindset. A winner has high self-esteem that enables him to overcome rejections and negative strokes. An important way to build your self-esteem is to get and give positive strokes. Wishing you ultimate happiness and success,

Stan Success Coach

Copyright (c) 2007 Stan the Mann