Respect Yourself

The following is a transcript based on my March 19th, 2013 WAKE UP! podcast.

What is Self Respect?

Today, I’m going to teach you one of my biggest secrets. I’ve always felt that the best way to learn something is to teach it. When I first started having a lot of success in 2004, I didn’t know much at that point when I started teaching it. So if it wasn’t a huge amount of knowledge that led me to experience the success I had at that point, what was it?

Quite simply, it was because I respected myself.

If I could pinpoint one thing that’s really made a compound difference in my level of success over the years, it’s that.

The world respects you to the degree you respect yourself.

I’m not talking about having a chip on your shoulder or that entitlement, the-world-owes-me-a-living mentality at all. I’m talking about respecting your time, your emotions, your abilities, and your values. I’m talking about acting in a way that honors what you are.

What this means to me is, “I respect myself by taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.” As I grew up, I was taught to respect the things in my care. That meant my toys as a child, and the farm I plowed when I grew up. I had to be a good steward of the land I was given to cultivate.

I can apply this to everything else I did: woodworking, welding, or repairing farm machinery. It had to be done right. It had to be done in a way that respected what you were working on. It had to be done in a way that showed respect for the work itself.

There was no place for ego in the commune I grew up in. Unlike the wide world out there, we earned respect by fitting into the community. That’s how you validated yourself and your value to the community.

At the end of the day, as humans, all we seek is validation.

We as humans all seek validation. I don’t care who you are; from the minute you’re born, you want to feel like you have a place in this world. You want to belong. Where I grew up, the only way to belong and get that validation was to do good work. If you put 100% of your effort into your work, that would get you noticed and admired.

This led me and the people I grew up with to try and outdo each other, just to get recognized and get that validation. We’d get very creative and innovative to get that approval we sought. I remember building our own RC model airplanes from scratch, or carving out our own violins from very expensive wood. All for the recognition! We never made any money from them, nor did we play on any stages, or win any awards.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

This way of living ingrained two lessons from my dad and uncle as I grew up:

1. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. (From my dad.)

2. Nobody is going to ask how long it took. They are going to ask who did it. (From my uncle Julius.)

I remember doing something as a kid over and over and over again so I could get it JUST right and get noticed for it. It’s amazing how life can give us opportunities to develop strengths and character traits that we can use later on, isn’t it? When I finally got into the real world, it was automatic to me that I would do everything to the best of my ability.

My first job was helping to care for the estate of Gary Gilbert, who owned several Midas stores in the area of Kansas I lived in. I would clean floors, do maintenance, and landscaping for him. I was trying to figure out my place in this big, bad world. Gary noticed my attention to detail and my work ethic. He saw that I put my heart into what I do. Some people call that the Midas touch; ironic that a guy who owned Midas stores saw something like that in me. (Even more so because a lot of what I’ve touched has turned to shit.)

Self validation comes from knowing you’re living up to excellence.

However, it doesn’t matter if it’s shit. When I decide to put my heart and soul into something, I will turn that into something more. There is ALWAYS something you can do with the pieces life gives you to build with. When you understand that, you realize that excellence is a way of living and a way of being. It’s a commitment to yourself and a commitment to self-respect.

No one’s going to ask how long it took, they’re only going to ask, Who did it?

Let’s go back to my youth on the farm for a minute. When you weld with a stick, it’s very difficult to do because you have to get the temperature just right between two metals, you’ve got to have the right angle, and the right pressure. It’s hard to see anything through the cloud of blue smoke that’s blocking your view. You can base the quality of the weld on how the bead looks; if it’s off, you have to grind it out and start over. It could mean someone’s life if a weld isn’t done right. There was no doing it half-assed. (Or as my dad used to say, “half-fast”. Kind of a play on words, because we never cursed on the farm.)

When the ego gets no other form of validation than good work, my gosh, you get good at doing good work! I am very blessed to have had an upbringing that cultivated that life skill within me. Whatever I am doing – mowing the grass, playing LEGOs with Milo, cleaning my car, or shooting a webinar – I aim for excellence. It’s a way of being.

If you start looking at everything you do like that in everyday life, it becomes a form of self validation. What happens is that you stop needing the validation from the world, because you’re getting it from the inside. You get it from knowing you’re living up to excellence. That’s a place of tremendous power to be in. Sure, it still feels good to be validated externally, but you won’t NEED it. The things you do won’t have to be for anybody else, because they are for yourself first.

For me, the secret of fulfillment is to feel good about what I do. And I don’t know how to feel good about what I do unless I truly know I’ve done my best.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Perfection is a disability, and very subjective. But doing your best is NOT subjective. You’ll know you’ve done your best because you’ll feel good about what you did. You’ll get that feeling of self validation. It comes back to that feeling of self respect.

So let’s look at the things we have to work with as entrepreneurs. We can’t have any more time; we all have the same amount of that. We have to make that time count in a way that we have no regrets about it when our time is up someday. How do we tie this into self-respect?

“Always do your best” – A very simple work ethic.

There’s a great book on time management by Dan Kennedy, called “Ruthless Time Management“, which talks about how the average CEO is only actually productive 20% of the time on the job. And the average employee is productive for even less than that. Think about that: working 10 hours a day, the average employee is doing income-generating work at the highest level for less than 2 hours of that time! If you could double your productivity somehow, you could theoretically double your income too. That comes from the respect you have for your own time, your own talents, and how you choose to live in that space of excellence.

See where I am going here? It comes down to respecting yourself to get more out of yourself. When you do that, you also respect the things you have. You CAN have your cake and eat it too. I can be the world’s best dad and a brilliant entrepreneur. But it takes a hell of a balancing act to achieve, and I HAVE to have a tremendous amount of respect for myself and my time to do that.

I refuse to compromise on the things that are important to me. I don’t waste my time, and I don’t allow other people to waste my time. That’s because I respect it, and what I want to do with it, too much to let that happen.

The only way you can really look after other people and contribute to society is by looking after yourself first. What good does it do you to have all the money in the world, but not be happy or healthy? You have to look out for yourself first. It’s like being on an airplane and having them tell you to put your own life vest on first before helping others put on theirs. You can’t save someone from drowning if you’re drowning, right? To serve others, you have to come from a place of strength, and that strength comes from having the self-respect to take care of you first.

If you don’t, who will look after you? Who, if not you?

Let’s go back to Dan Kennedy’s book. He has an equation in there where you can calculate the value of your time. Take your yearly net income and divide it by the number of hours you work. That’s the value of your time. Don’t like the number? Want to double it? You can, but you have to hold yourself to a different standard while you are working. It goes right back to that self respect I talked about before.

The more you respect yourself and your time, the more efficient and productive you will be. The cream of the crop always rises to the top, and that is defined by those who have the most respect for themselves. Those people always value their time higher, which is why their time becomes more valuable. Do you see how the value YOU place on your time will increase the value of that time to others, all because you respect it more?

If I’m working at a law firm and billing myself out at $700 per hour, I’m going to be looking to bill at that capacity as much as possible and leave less valuable work to others. The principle here is that you learn to leverage your time better by operating at maximum capacity ALL THE TIME. You can apply this to any field, as an employee or entrepreneur. Double the time you are productive in a day, and you’ll double the value of your time.

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word– excellence.  To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” – Pearl S. Buck 

When I was 19, I was managing our entire family farm operation. Within 4 years I had gone from being a farmhand (shoveling manure or piling hay bales all day) to that. How? It wasn’t because I am smarter, stronger, or have a better education. It was because I had a simple work ethic: always do your best. That comes from respecting yourself.

If you missed last week’s special webinar, check it out at I’d love more of your thoughts about the X, Y, and Z factors we’ve discussed on previous WAKE UP calls. Big kudos to everyone for their great feedback so far!