We have all wrestled with self-esteem issues at one time or another. I have.

To illustrate this a short anecdote may be useful.

Back in 2011 we created a cycle tour between Johannesburg and Queenstown.

The background to this occurred as follows: Prior to initiating the 1965Ride for Education, I was broken. I had just divorced, moved back to Johannesburg from Stellenbosch, no fixed abode for about 6 months, and no idea what the future held from a work point of view. I was lost. My self-esteem was at extremely low ebb and I had no real sense of direction. In short, I felt valueless.

It was in this context that the idea of cycling from Johannesburg to Queenstown was born. It was a revelation! It was not something that I sat down and thought about and then planned. Rather, it came to me a bit like a vision. I had thought about riding from Stellenbosch to Johannesburg before I made the migration northwards. I had visited my old school, Queen’s College in Queenstown during the annual Founder’s Day celebrations in 2010. I came away inspired and wanting to do something. A gesture. Some kind of contribution to help and encourage the school in what it was doing to transform.

One December evening in 2010 I suddenly had the revelation, the idea of cycling between Jozi and eKomani to raise some money and publicise what that great old school was doing.

This brainstorm changed my outlook on life completely.  I could see a way out of the woods. The end point was not totally clear but at least there was a glimmering of something important, something of significant value. Meaning started to seep back into my life.  People started to buy into the idea. And now the cycle tour is into its 10th year and things have turned 180 degrees for me.

We all need to feel valued and of worth to the community of which we are part, if not to society at large. It is the people around us that give us that feeling. It is not something we can just conjure up on our own. After all it is this very community that gives us our sense of presence, of self-worth. We do not just experience these feelings in a vacuum. We receive (hopefully with gratitude) this sense of self-worth which comes from giving back to this community of ours, what it gave us in the first place.

The lack of self-worth is perhaps what drives narcissistic people to work only on satisfying their own self-indulgent wants at the expense of all those around them. It makes people mean. It lowers self-esteem and self-confidence and fuels anti-social behaviour.

Being valued is within the grasp of all of us. We just need to understand that it is not what others do for us that makes the change, but, more importantly, what we do for others that makes us feel valued.

Achieving this does not mean totally dedicating oneself to a single cause, but it does mean finding something that is of value to others in which one can immerse oneself and give of oneself to others.

In this Covid19 world in which we live there is no shortage of things to do which can make a difference to the community of which you are part. Finding a cause bigger than oneself that does not revolve around oneself is not difficult.  Choosing something bigger than oneself to focus on does not mean that your choice must change the whole world, nor does it have to be complicated.  It merely means finding something that will enrich the life of someone else.

In our world invariably one thing leads to another. If you change the life of one person that change, in itself, will have a ripple effect beyond that one person. Even huge things have small beginnings!

Changing someone else’s life intrinsically and automatically changes one’s own life and personal brand. Both of these go towards establishing one’s value and this has back-to-back effect of raising the value of your personal brand in the eyes of others and, consequently, of yourself. If you focus on yourself and, only on your needs and wants, your value is limited to those horizons. As soon as you step outside yourself, your horizons widen and your perception of yourself changes positively and commensurately. You become a bigger person in a multitude of ways.

Our value is always established by the community, never by ourselves!


Tony Frost


Written by : Sirocco Strategy Management

Sirocco was established to work with organisations to guide them in their strategising, and to ensure effective the implementation of their strategies. Implementation depends 100% on the buy-in and commitment of the people in the organisation.


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