The 3Rs of Personal Success(2)

by Elaine Sihera - Date: 2007-03-18 - Word Count: 678 Share This!

We respect people for what they do, their birthright and the role they play, because we recognise them for doing it. If we did not acknowledge and validate them as the source of that status, action or expertise, we would not show them respect. Respect isn't automatic either, after the initial first impressions. It has to be earned over time. It is difficult to respect someone even when they are being negative and hostile so we tend to wait for people to 'earn' that respect, though it tends to be 'given' at the beginning. A kind of respect with probation.

Neither does respect come easily. The very act of respecting someone means putting them either on par, or above, ourselves, in estimation. We tend to respect people only when we personally recognise them as the source of a particular knowledge, action, expertise and leadership, not just through their work or social status. We have to feel we can trust them. That is why some people who are simply 'in charge', and have failed professional expectations, are not respected.

We have to believe someone is responsible for some display of talent, special activity or earned status before we are inclined to give due recognition, followed by respect through personal admiration and trust. Respect is likely to come through any, or all, of the following sources:

*Fulfilling another person's expectations (i:e making their wishes come true).

*Being better at a special task or skill.

*Being knowledgeable in a particular subject, like a media or academic 'expert'.

*Having a unique position by virtue of birth (the Queen) or for very special achievements (a great sportsperson).

*Helping others to achieve their goals (perceived as having 'power' and 'influence')

*Having a reputation for being generous and kind (rich philanthropists funding selective social projects).

*Being a successful, self-made person with the freedom of action and personal control desired by others (Richard Branson of Virgin and Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, for example).

Facing Challenges
For example, Bob Geldof was just another pop singer until he launched LiveAid. It was an unusual and ambitious idea but it galvamised his colleagues into action and has been enormously successful. He had the confidence to do it, despite the huge organisational problems which were anticipated. The subsequent advantages of the huge amount of money and the impact it made in Africa not only vindicated his initiative, it also led to enormous publicity and countless other imitations.

No matter what he does now, the respect for Bob's action will always be there, raising his status far above ordinary mortals. His being fiercely individual and non-conformist comes as no surprise. You have to believe in yourself and others to generate real confidence and commitment and be prepared to lead from a lonely position of self-belief; to take risks and face challenges, regardless of scepticism and the consequences.

Without respect from others we have problems of adjustment, feelings of insignificance and alienation, loss of confidence and low expectations. This explains why some minority groups perceive themselves to be outside of the mainstream instead of being a vital part of the action. Not recognised for their individual competence or endeavours, except in terms of their race, disability, religion, age or sexuality, they cannot contribute in the same meaningful terms to the wider society until their recognition becomes more professional and less personalised.

It is also difficult to succeed entirely on our own because success is defined by the recognition of our action and the sense of achievement which accompanies it. We can be mad scientists creating new gadgets every day which might personally benefit us, but unless others share those advantages in some way, our genius will never be recognised. Others would get the glory and respect for our inventions. We would only be successful in our own eyes and this is not sufficient in itself to allow us to make a social impact.

It does not matter how fantastic we think we are, unless others recognise it too, we can only move forward in a limited way. With recognition comes respect for our unique talents. However, real success comes with the final element - reward.

Related Tags: value, leadership, success, self-esteem, respect, reward, race, recognition, competence, effort

ELAINE SIHERA (Ms Cyprah - and is an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University. Elaine is a CONFIDENCE guru and a consultant for Diversity Management, Personal Empowerment and Relationships. Author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (available on as well as her personal website). Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Men and Women of the Year Achievement Awards. She describes herself as, "Fit, Fabulous, Over-fifty and Ready to Fly!"

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