Secrets to Success: Self-Esteem

It was a challenging week to say the least – we’re still working on improving our website and will do this gradually.

Speaking of improvements … ‘Self-Esteem’ is first in my Secrets to Success series. I’ll take a chapter from my previous life which I hope helps you find and achieve your own goals.

As I wrote about before, my early days in Singapore were sublime – particularly the years 1970 to 1979. We had a cook who churned out delicious meals, another lady to clean the house, and a devoted driver. 

With no housework or cooking concerns, my time was spent doing what I loved: working with Dad in the sharemarket (with clients crowding around us hanging on our every word), and singing at night with my aunt Margaret at the Tanglin Club. We had waiters attending to us the minute we walked in, feeling the audience’s anticipation to hear us sing. 

I recall reading this in Dale Carnegie’s famous book: “ … the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.”1 I was happy because I was important. Then, I didn’t see a need to be good at anything else. 

But when I left Singapore for Sydney in 1980, I became Mrs (Married) Average. No-one knew of my previous life. I couldn’t cook (my husband taught me how to do fluffy rice in a saucepan and roast a chicken). Food shopping scared me; I was too nervous to drive further than 10 km from home. I started work at the Prince of Wales Hospital, which was to become my second home. I held various positions there until I finally retired in June 2021. 

When I first started work however, I just didn’t fit in. I thought it silly that people would talk so much about sport, recipes and planning holidays (borrowing on their credit card no less!), when they should really be discussing ways to make and save money. I hated the idea that we had to take morning and afternoon tea-breaks. How unproductive. I stubbornly chose to stay at my desk, have my snack and work. I’d be alone even on my lunch break, reading the financial pages. It’s no wonder everyone thought I was a snob and left me alone.  

I became withdrawn, had low self-esteem and confidence – all because I didn’t feel important anymore. I was, however, determined to get my health right, start a family and build my share portfolio. Living from paycheck to paycheck was not what Dad told me to do. 

I also knew I would never reach my potential if I continued feeling sorry for myself. But how could I reclaim my lost self-esteem?

As I wrote in my Diet & Your Colon posts, Dr Walker’s books dramatically proved my health. My son was born in 1983 and I did learn how to cook, making fresh meals for him. I tried not to be overly-critical of work colleagues, focussed on my work, and even got off my desk for small-talk during our tea breaks. This slowly broke the ice, but there was still a long way to go. 

In November 1989, my sister invited me to a business meeting. It turned out to be the Amway business and people in the room were part of the ‘Network 21’ support group. Now please read on, I’m by no means introducing Amway to you! 

My first thought was to excuse myself and leave. But there was something about the people there that made me want to stay and find out more. Yes, Amway had their own brand of washing powder, cleaning products, skincare and vitamins. But it wasn’t about the selling. It was about forming a network where products purchased for yourself or others in your line of sponsorship generate turnover points determining everyone else’s bonus level. The goal was to develop a business producing passive income

I paid $55 to join so I could try the products at a discount, with 90 days to get my money back. So I bought 20 products. I was amazed at the quality and still buy them today.  

Again, it wasn’t the goods, but the networking idea that intrigued me. I knew it was something I could be good at. I was impressed by the people in the room, who were so much like my father’s clients – smart, interesting and humble, And I felt comfortable with them. 

I went through the Amway bonus system; it was fair. If you did nothing and your group became millionaires, your share would be close to zero. The Australian Department of Consumer Affairs said Amway was a socially responsible, ethical business. So now it was up to me.  

That night I couldn’t sleep. This was a business with no overheads or compulsory inventory. Plus I had support. All I had to do was follow the Network 21 rulebook, read their recommended books, listen to tapes (cassettes then!) and go to meetings. So simple. I thought, “I can do this!”

Reality hit me. I could not build a business the way I was (ie. without self-confidence). I realised this at my very first meeting. The 7-hour long $15 seminar was actually all about GOALS. Okay, so what was a ‘goal’ exactly?? I had none. 

Affirmations? Attitude? Posture? Comfort Zone? Body Language? Totally unfamiliar and puzzling to me. I felt my brain was about to explode! 

A much-repeated mantra of the group was “Do what needs to be done when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not!” It stuck. DISCIPLINE. I had to acquire it. 

I’m with my lifelong Network 21 friends: Uschy (left) & Anita – Sydney, 2006

In meeting after meeting with professional speakers you’d otherwise pay a fortune for, mentoring sessions, books and tapes and new diary contacts, I headed off to various homes to explain the business to my prospects. Some abruptly said, “No, not for me!” I was hurt at first, but later swallowed hard and asked, “Do you perhaps know anyone else that may like this?” “Yes!”, they said, which encouraged me to go on.

That 15-year journey was an amazing learning curve in my personal development. I learnt skills money couldn’t buy. I made new friends and contacts as my list grew – whether or not they joined me. They were people I would never have discovered if I stayed home fretting!

My involvement with the Amway business for the last 10 years has solely been as a consumer. My work at the Hospital and passion for share-investing made it difficult to be fully committed. 

In Invest 5.0, I talked about the importance of recognising your personality and temperament, and referred to Florence Littauer’s book Personality Plus. By knowing more about myself, I understood more about people and knew how to bring out the best in them. I got so good at it! But there’s a new term now: ‘DISC Profiling’ (Dominant-Influential-Compliant-Steady).

Network 21 is hosting a free, 90-minute Zoom seminar on it this Sunday, 3 October, from 5.00–6.30pm. It’s obligation-free with no ads.

More to come on Secrets to Success in the coming weeks. See you soon!

1 Carnegie, D. [1936, 1981] (1989). How to Win Friends & Influence People [Revised edition], p.47. CollinsAngus&Robertson Publishers Limited: Pymble, New South Wales.