Nov 112012

What Makes You Happy And Drives Your Behavior?  Self-esteem.

Have you ever asked yourself what drives your behavior?  Being the introspective type, I ask myself this question quite often.  I have found that the answers can vary quite widely, but once I dig a little below the surface, they always come back to one main driver of behavior: self-esteem.  Everything I do, and often how I do it, has to do with my self-esteem, with my concept of who I am, who I want to become and whether I’m making progress or losing ground.

I’m not a psychologist, but in the various roles I serve in my life, including coach, entrepreneur, advisor, parent, sibling, son, etc., I have observed that most everyone’s behavior is driven by their self-esteem.  If their self-esteem is low, they tend to either accept it and act in a defeated manner, or they do whatever they can to improve it.

How about you?  Does your self-esteem drive your behavior?  Think about the choices you’ve made recently and in the past; what’s been the main driver of those choices?

Let me give you an example – the choice of car.  If I choose a fancy sports car, it’s likely that I want to stand out and receive positive comments and looks.  Why?  It makes me feel good; it makes me feel unique.  What if, on the other hand, I choose a non-descript, non-attention-getting “green” car that gets amazing gas mileage?  I probably see myself as making an important contribution to the planet.  It makes me feel good; it makes me feel unique.  Either way, I’m looking to make a car choice that’s consistent with how I see myself, so that I can maintain, or improve my self-esteem.

How about the buyers of your products and services?  How much of their buying decision is based on their self-esteem, on their need to feel good about their choice and feel unique?  My bet is that self-esteem plays an important role in their decisions.  For example, if you sell an upscale product or service, consumption of that product or service makes them feel important and proud that they can afford the “best”.  All of this feeds into their self-esteem!

Astute marketers play on these self-esteem needs and drive purchase decisions based on this knowledge.  Think Apple.  Are their products really that much better than the alternatives on the market?  In some cases, yes, but in many cases there are other products that get the job done just as well or better, at a fraction of the price.  But the Apple solution carries status and it says, “I’m hip,” “I’m current,” “I’m unique and I can afford the most stylish and elegant solution”.  All of this feeds into an improved sense of self and improved self-esteem.  “Think different.”

There is an innate need as a human being to be unique, to feel like you are the one and only “you,” and you are worthy of such status.  Smart marketers know this.  Smart coaches know this.  Smart parents know this.  If you want to effectively influence yourself and others, you need to know it and put it to use too!

Understand that self-esteem is an important driver of your behavior and that of others.  There are many ways to influence self-esteem, positively and negatively.  I’ve only touched on a few here.  Begin to be a student of self-esteem drivers and start using them to your advantage as you work to positively influence yourself and others!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

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  • Thanks, Michael. I have to agree that the teenage years (and younger) play an extremely important role in building and maintaining self-esteem.