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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Building Self Esteem

I recently had a bit of a flash back. In the late 80s I chaired the California Task Force on Self Esteem. This work was parodied in Doonesbury for weeks. However, in the end it earned general respect for having been a scholarly investigation to what contributes to self esteem and how is it reflected by our behavior.

This work attracted scores of scholars from universities around the country who had devoted their scholarly careers to studying self esteem and how it is nurtured.

It may surprise you that his work covered three years. Why would it take so long to study such a straight forward concept? Given the results, it looks like common sense. However, it was the weight of time and credible contributors to this work that earned the results considerable recognition. It also raised the banner for youth development efforts by asking if they would nurture self esteem in our young people.

In the end, the task force adopted the following definition of self esteem as: "Appreciating my own worth and importance and having the character to be accountable for myself and to act responsibly toward others."

The key ingredients to fostering self esteem are 1) feeling that you belong, 2) being acknowledged for your efforts and 3) being recognized for your competence. You can recognize immediately that all three of these can be cultivated in a relationship, at home at school, in a community and a nation.

The Lifeplan program is built to foster a greater sense of self esteem by making every young person feel honored and included in this exciting process of discovery. It acknowledges the young person's efforts and celebrates their competence and success in building a worthy Lifeplan.

Over the past four years we have observed the substantial confidence and enthusiasm for life that young people have garnered from building a personal Lifeplan. The increased confidence young people have to express who they are where they are going and who is helping them get there, contributes greatly to their self esteem.

So Lifeplan has considerable roots in the science of youth development and building self esteem. All of us growing this opportunity for young people are thrilled to see these kids thriving from this experience and feel esteemed and honored to be part of this work.

All the best,


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