Daria is one of my favorite cartoon ever. It’s been 17 years since it was first broadcasted on MTV, but everything is still relevant and incredibly funny.
If you don’t know Daria, you’re really missing something. Daria is a cartoon about a smart, acerbic, and somewhat misanthropic teenage girl who observes the world around her. S1E1 Esteemsters give the tone with a quote I used as a mail signature for years.
I don’t have low self-esteem. It’s a mistake. I have low esteem for everyone else
I know what low self esteem and low self confidence are about. I’ve worked on both topics a lot a few years ago and it helped me a lot both in my family and work life.
I also know how it’s hard to chose where to start. If you’ve ever read a productivity book, you already know aiming at the stars brings you nowhere when you’re in the gutter.
Talking or smiling to random people in the street is a classical advice but it was too much for me. I had to focus on small achievements that would kick me out of my comfort zone and I could easily turn into habits.
1. When in group, makes suggestion that concern everyone
At work, I used to follow my colleagues where they wanted to it. Not having to take a single decision was easy as there was always someone deciding for me.
When someone asked where we wanted to eat, I started suggesting some popular places. I didn’t take any risk as I knew most of us liked to eat there, but I was expressing my point of view in front of the group.
Taking this kind of small decisions is important. They don’t turn you into a leader, far from that, but you stop being a simple follower. The first times are hard and you barely hear your own voice, then you gain in self confidence and suggest more and more, sometimes controversial things.
2. Stop saying « up to you »
Unless you’re The Dread Pirate Robert or Boba Fett, « as you wish » is something you should ban from your vocabulary.
Just like the « where shall we eat » question, it’s very easy to let someone else decide for yourself. It’s incredibly comfortable as you’re sure you’ll never fail. If something gets wrong, it’s someone else’s fault.
Unfortunately, it brings you nowhere. Or, more exactly, it will bring you to many places you don’t want to go.
3. Start saying no to thing that matters
Speaking of going to places I didn’t want to go, I found myself in many uncomfortable situation because I did not say « no » in time.
I used to hate confrontation, and saying no to someone, even for a very small thing was hard to me. Accepting everything was a way to stay in my comfort zone and avoid a fight that rarely occurred.
As I started to say « no » more often, I realized there was no or very little confrontation. Most of the time, people would simply say « ok » and moved to something else.
It’s critical to say « no » to things that really matters to you, or your « no » will have little to no value. That’s exactly like saying « yes » too often: your « yes » has no value anymore.
There’s something so simple it’s stupid I took years to understand. People don’t expect you to always rely on them, and they even don’t expect you to please them. Don’t expect to be the next Captain Kirk type leader with this, but those small exercises are a good start.