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BookReview: The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
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 taken.

[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 destruction."

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.

Via Rob 2005