The Silent Success Factor

CPC Career Professionals of Canada News

By Ken Keis.

It affects every aspect of our lives, yet few people will talk about it. If you have it, you are more likely to succeed. If you lack it, you will struggle.

What is it? Self-worth.

Self-worth is defined as the way you think and feel about yourself. It is the part of your personality that determines personal value and importance. Deeply seated within you, it strongly influences your attitudes and behaviors, ultimately determining your success or failure.

When self-worth is low, people have little or no energy to think, feel, and do. They lack the motivation to participate in life.

Here is an example from my own life. Over 16 years ago (prior to meeting my wife Brenda), I was engaged to a girl from Australia. After spending almost a year in my area, she returned home to plan for our wedding. Two months later, she contacted me with a “Dear John” phone call.

My self-worth hit the lowest point I could remember. Almost in a full depression, I did not eat and lost 15 pounds in 30 days. I went from being the #1 sales performer for our company to the poorest producer—in less than 60 days. My skills and abilities did not change; only my level of self-worth. My low self-worth negatively impacted everything.

High self-worth creates the opposite results. People with high self-worth believe their personal efforts will make a difference wherever they become involved. This high self-worth results in a confidence that increases their success.

Recent research shows that our self-worth levels are always fluctuating and being re-established every day. I suspect even Donald Trump had a couple of low self-worth days after his bankruptcy. And research reports that experiencing success produces more success and higher levels of self-worth. That’s why in sales training, they say the best time for a person to sell something is right after he or she has just sold something.

Developed over time, self-worth is determined by positive and negative events that occur within our families, work settings, relationships with others, and our relationships with ourselves. I was very successful in my work but, in the environment of my family life growing up, I endured a daily dose of criticism. Carrying that low self-worth into my adult life, I became critical of myself―until I recognized it for the destructive behavior it was and altered it! That attitude adjustment helped me increase my self-worth in essential areas.

There are a number of things you can do to increase your self-worth.

  • Learn more about who you really are, to clarify what you need from others and the way you react in different situations. When needs are consistently met, self-worth goes up.
  • Develop respect for yourself. Limit or eliminate negative relationships with individuals who mistreat you. Discontinue behaviors that make you feel guilty or ashamed.
  • Forgive yourself for past mistakes and failures. Forgiveness releases strong feelings of bitterness and hate that act like poisons within us. Everyone makes mistakes. It is simply a matter of learning from them, correcting what we can, and moving forward.
  • Identify and build on unused strengths. Knowing that you can do something well and doing it is a great confidence-booster.

One way to establish your awareness of your self-worth and then initiate change is to complete an assessment such as the SelfWorth Inventory (SWI).

Marcia Richardson has used the SelfWorth Inventory with clients. She strongly believes in the benefits it provides. “The SWI led us into discussions concerning self-image, how we downplay our contributions, tendencies to focus on the negative, or even how we are conditioned in our lives to be modest and not to brag. This assessment has been extremely useful in helping our clients overcome these negative conditionings.”

As you can see, the potential impact of the SWI with participants is significant. The SWI provides proven, practical ways for individuals to start from within and change the way they think and feel about themselves.

I want to mention that in some individuals, low self-worth can be biologically generated. Based on your diet and blood chemistry, you could have depression or low self-worth based on a biological condition—not a mental or emotional condition. As you look toward increasing your confidence and self-worth levels, please remember they can also be affected by physiological factors.

Self-worth is a key factor to success. If you don’t have strong self-worth, you may not feel you deserve success and therefore you sabotage your attempts to succeed. As a coach or employer, understanding your client’s level of self-worth will help you understand the individual better and provide you and the client with a map for moving forward. You may have a client or employee who seems lazy and unmotivated, yet the root of the problem is low self-worth. Helping people increase their self-worth can increase their productivity and their desire to contribute, thus benefiting everyone around them.

Include the SWI as part of your awareness program. The best thing you can do for your clients is to help them build their self-worth. The benefits are far-reaching and long-lasting.

Ken Keis is the president and CEO of Consulting Resource Group in Abbotsford, B.C. ( He can be reached at (604) 852-0566 or

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