Essential Walk #12: Self-Esteem & Self-Discipline

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 22, Issue No. 8b
April 15, 2024

By Dan Coughlin


Self-Esteem & Self-Discipline

Let’s take a moment to review a bit.

While competency in a given role, leadership, management, and team-building are all very important keys to achieving desired results, I think there are more essential topics for an individual to develop in order to generate individual, group, and organizational success.

And the process of focusing on these essentials is to slow down, mentally step away from personal and professional tasks and responsibilities, and dive deep into thinking about one or two of them at a time. This is what I call going on an Essential Walk.

Here are a variety of thoughts I’ve proposed so far in this series.

Your essence is your thoughts, emotions, and will.

Virtue is what you consider to be the right thoughts, emotions, will, words, and actions for you to have in your life.

Egotism are your thoughts, emotions, will, words, and actions that you believe are driven by your exaggerated sense of self-importance and your desire for immediate gratification, and which you believe have no lasting value for you.

With those three foundational ideas in mind, for your Essential Walk today, I want you to focus on self-esteem and self-discipline.

Self-Esteem & Self-Discipline

In MWD (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), esteem is defined as the high regard in which one is held, and discipline is defined as control gained by enforcing obedience or order. Therefore, self-esteem is holding yourself in high regard, and self-discipline is self-control gained by enforcing obedience or order.

My favorite quote on self-esteem comes from Abraham Maslow: “Ultimately, real self-esteem rests on a feeling of dignity, of controlling one’s own life, and of being one’s own boss.”

When you have strong personal dignity, a strong sense of controlling your own life, you are able to guide your thoughts, emotions, and will in the direction that you want. When your dignity and self-esteem is weakened, you lose some of your sense of controlling your own life.

Self-esteem is a crucially important part of your essence. When you maintain obedience and order to your own carefully selected virtues, you strengthen your self-esteem. When you allow your egotism to overwhelm your self-discipline and guide your thoughts, emotions, and will toward saying and doing things for immediate gratitude and instant pleasure, then you weaken your self-esteem.

This is the extremely important relationship between self-esteem and self-discipline. This is another example of why it is crucially important to slowwww wayyyyy down on a regular basis in order to clarify what you think are virtues and what you think are immediate gratifications, and to maintain obedience and order in your life to your virtues. The payoff for doing so is ginormous over the long run.

You steadily become more and more the person you want to be on an on-going basis. It starts with your thoughts, emotions, and will, and works into your words and actions, and then into your various roles in life.

Self-Esteem vs Egotism

Notice that while self-esteem and egotism sound similar, they are really worlds apart.

Self-esteem is about seeing the value within yourself.

Egotism is an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Strong self-esteem allows you to add value to other people and retain your sense of a healthy essence.

Excessive egotism can lead you toward hedonism, which MWD defines as the doctrine that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life. This leads to a constant craving for immediate gratification.

Essential Walk Questions for You to Consider 

  1. Think about a few key areas in your life. What are the virtues that you want to embrace in each of those areas?
  2. What can you to main obedience and order in your life to those virtues?
  3. What do you see as your strengths and positive traits?
  4. What are 3-4 examples in your life where you applied those strengths and positive traits?

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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