by Nathaniel Branden, Bantam Books, 1994, 0-553-37439-7
Branden has a theory that all psychological problems stem from
self-esteem. He has built a career around this, and writes many books
about it. He was an Ayn Rand disciple, and had a 18 year affair with
her, which ended tumultuously. The six pillars (or practices) are:
living conciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility,
self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and personal integrity.
Branden is from the cognitive school. He uses a sentence completions
as a technique. The book contains a 31 week program to improve your
self-esteem by doing sentence completions.
[p20] When we have unconflicted self-esteem, joy is our motor, not
fear. It is happiness that we wish to experience, not suffering
that we wish to avoid. Our purpose is self-expression, not
self-avoidance or self-justification. Our motives is not to "prove"
our worth but to live our possibilities.
[p23] A modern business can no longer be run by a few people who think
and many people who do what they are told (the traditional military,
command-and-control model). Today, organizations need not only an
unprecedentedly higher level of knowledge and skill among all those
who participate but also a higher level of independence,
self-reliance, self-trust, and the capacity to exercise initiative-in
a word, self-esteem. This means that persons with a decent level of
self-esteem are now needed economically in large
numbers. Historically, this is a new phenomenon.
The challenge extends further than the world of business. We are freer
than any generation before us to choose our own religion, philosophy,
or moral code; to adopt our own life-style; to select our Own criteria
for the good life. We no longer have unquestioning faith in
"tradition." We no longer believe that government will lead us to
salvation-nor church, nor labor unions, nor big organizations of any
kind. No one is coming to rescue us, not in any aspect of life. We are
thrown on our own resources.
[p45] Rationality should not be confused, as it so often is, with
compulsive rule following or unreflective obedience to what the people of
a given time or place have proclaimed to be "reasonable." On the contrary,
rationality often must challenge what some group calls "reasonable."
(When a particular notion of the "reasonable" has been overthrown by
new evidence, it is that notion and not reason that has been vanquished.)
The quest of reason is for the noncontradictory integration of
experience-which implies openness and availability to experience. It is
the servant neither of tradition nor consensus.
[p47] Flexibility. To be flexible is to be able to respond to change
without inappropriate attachments binding one to the past. A clinging
to the past in the face of new and changing circumstances is itself a
product of insecurity, a lack of self-trust. Rigidity is what animals
sometimes manifest when they are frightened: they freeze. It is also
what companies sometimes manifest when faced with superior
competition. They do not ask, "What can we learn from our
competitors?" They cling blindly to what they have always done, in
defiance of evidence that it is no longer working. (This has been the
response of too many business leaders and workers to the challenge
ofthe]apanese since the 1970s.) Rigidity is often the response of a
mind that does not trust itself to cope with the new or master the
unfamiliar-or that has simply become complacent or even
slovenly. Flexibility, in contrast, is the natural consequence of
selfesteem. A mind that trusts itself is light on its feet,
unemcumbered by " irrelevant attachments, able to respond quickly to
novelty because it is open to seeing.
[p93] Self-acceptance is the precondition of change and growth. Thus,
if I confronted with a mistake I have made, in accepting that it is
mine I free to learn from it and to do better in the future. I cannot
learn from mistake I cannot accept having made.
I cannot forgive myself for an action I will not acknowledge having
[p239] Entrepreneurship is by its nature antiauthority. It is
anti-status quo. It is always moving in the direction of making what
exists obsolete. Early in this century the economist Joseph Schumpeter
wrote of the work of the entrepreneur as that of "creative
The essence of entrepreneurial activity is that of endowing resources
with new wealth-producing capabilities-of seeing and actualizing
productive possibilities that have not been seen and actualized
before. This presupposes the ability to think for oneself, to look at
the world through one's own eyes-a lack of excessive regard for
the-world-as-perceived-by-others-at least in some respects.