Cover image for Esteemable acts : 10 actions for building real self-esteem
Esteemable acts : 10 actions for building real self-esteem
Ward, Francine.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
xv, 207 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF697.5.S46 W36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BF697.5.S46 W36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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A powerhouse motivator shares her strategies for building lifelong self-esteem and tapping the boundless energy and talent within everyone. Francine Ward is living proof that actions speak louder than words, and leads a life that far exceeds the wildest dream of her youth. By age eighteen, she had dropped out of high school and was battling drug and alcohol addictions. A few years latter, Ward was struck by a car; she was told she would never walk again. Flash-forward two decades and meet a very different Francine Ward: Georgetown law-school graduate, marathon runner, successful businesswoman, tireless community leader. The secret to her turn around? Esteemable acts. Built on the concepts that led to her own remarkable recovery, Esteemable Acts presents ten specific ways to put self-confidence on the fast track. While other self help books encourage contemplation or verbal affirmations, Esteemable Acts gets readers off the couch and into the vibrant world by teaching them how to walk through fear. From servicing others to career-related activities, each component of Ward's program pushes the boundaries of comfort zones, proves naysayers wrong, and examines every aspect of life to find hidden opportunities for greater self-love. From and author who is a walking, talking testimonial, this is a groundbreaking new path to courage.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ward, a practicing attorney with a harrowing life story of a dysfunctional childhood and recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, offers inspiring and practical advice on building self-esteem. Based on her own remarkable turnaround, Ward offers specific advice on several aspects of life, including career, finances, relationships, and self-improvement. She advises readers to keep a journal of esteemable acts--taking risks, articulating dreams, helping others--and to record those actions and experiences that mark progress in developing self-esteem. She recommends self-examination to detail character strengths and shortcomings and offers advice on how to avoid becoming "a casualty to limited thinking." In each chapter, Ward offers practical exercises to keep the reader focused on achieving goals. This is a practical self-help guide written by a woman who has overcome great odds to succeed. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Developing self-esteem is the key to living a life beyond your "wildest imaginings," according to this book, which is divided into 10 "esteemable actions" designed to get downtrodden readers thinking about how to change their lives. Ward certainly speaks from experience: a former drug-addicted alcoholic and call girl, she turned her life around, graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and is now a motivational speaker and president and CEO of her own company. Ward urges readers to keep a journal to reflect upon goals and answer questions such as "What do you value?", "What does financial freedom mean to you?", and "What's most important to you today?" While much of the advice is common sense-she proclaims the importance of living your dreams, being your own best friend and avoiding a victim mentality-this well-meaning guide all too often slides into overly familiar territory (procrastination is the enemy; you should eat well and take care of yourself) and simplistic platitudes such as "Denial is the enemy of success," or "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." (Jan. 14) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Action 1 If you can dream it, you can have it It's an esteemable act to have the courage to dream. Until I had the courage to dream of a better life, I wasn't able to have one. And as far back as I can remember, I was afraid to dream. I saw what happened to people like me who thought they had a right to dream, who thought they were special. They ended up hurt, disappointed, and disliked, and I didn't want to go there. You see, I was a poor black kid from Atlanta, Georgia, and later New York's South Bronx, and, as I saw it, for people like me, there was no such thing as hope, dreams, or endless possibilities. And to think otherwise was a set-up for failure and despair. I got the message early in my life that dreams were for people who were rich, people who were smart--people who were white. The message that I'd never amount to anything and that I'd never leave the ghetto was presented to me at home, at church, in school, at the movies, in the newspaper, and on television. The message was subtle, yet at other times, not so subtle--disadvantaged black girls like me couldn't become anything other than drug addicts, alcoholics, or prostitutes. Many self-esteem experts believe that as children we go through a phase in which we stumble and fall as we try to find our way. We experience adolescence and the teen years often hating ourselves and feeling disconnected from life and limited by what we feel is a lack of choice; a time in our lives when we feel stuck and unable to change our circumstances. Then, according to those experts, when we get to our late teens, we grow out of it and begin to think in terms of possibilities, infinite possibilities. We feel empowered and hopeful. We start to realize, as young people, that life is full of opportunities. The point those experts miss is that the kids who get to that next level are often encouraged to do so. Frequently they have mentors who motivate and inspire them to live their dreams. Their passion is encouraged and their imagination is fired up. And when they come across an obstacle that frightens them, they're taught to walk through their fear and go for what they want. Sadly, this was not my experience. The people in my neighborhood reminded me that the life I was leading was as good as it gets and not to expect much more. And for a long time I didn't. So I, like many others, became a casualty of limited thinking. I was paralyzed by fear. My fear became as much a part of me as my skin color and my DNA--it was the essence of who I was, and I didn't even know it. After years and years of fear taking hold of me, it would take years of hard work for me to find release from its demoralizing grip. Dreams are what life is made of. They give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a reason to go to bed early at night, so you can wake up and start all over again. Living your dreams is the first, but not the final, step in building real and lasting self-esteem. When you follow your heart, when you live with intention and passion, everyone benefits, because you're happier and you feel more vital. And when you do what you love, not only do you feel good about yourself, it's easier to feel good about others. On the other hand, when you allow external or internal forces to prevent you from doing or having what you want, everyone suffers, because when you're unhappy you make everyone around you unhappy. But like anything worth having, dreaming takes work, which often requires that you walk through something you're afraid of. Unlocking the courage to dream is the essence of Action #1. This Action invites you to see past your fears and your limitations to a new and more appealing picture of your life. It also encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and go for what you really want. Self-esteem comes from doing esteemable acts--things that make you feel good about yourself. It's an esteemable act to live your dreams. Bring to mind one of your childhood dreams. Maybe you wanted to be a teacher or a doctor, or to own your own business. Maybe you wanted to be a scientist. Maybe you wanted to be president of the United States. Are you living your dream? If not, what got in your way? What excuses did you buy into? Write out your answers in your Esteemable Acts Journal. Walking Through the Fear In 1981, at the age of twenty-eight, tired of feeling stupid and determined to prove that I wasn't, I went back to school. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made because it brought up all my insecurities. Fears I never knew I had surfaced, such as fear the of being too old, the fear of failure, the fear of not being smart enough, the fear of not being able to grasp the concepts, the fear of not fitting in, the fear of going back to school, the fear of the coursework being too hard--the list continued. But one day at a time, after talking to advisers, researching the necessary steps, and auditing classes, I decided to face my fears and embark on a journey, one that proved to be an entry into a life far beyond my wildest imaginings. What do you dream about when you're by yourself and left just with your own thoughts? What do you wish you could do "if life were different"? What would you be doing if you could snap your fingers and make it all happen? What experiences would you participate in if the canvas called your life was blank? You can make your dreams come true and this book will help you. In the beginning, what's being asked of you might seem hard. It might appear that more is being asked of you than is reasonable or fair. The journey to positive self-esteem is your experience; you may do as you please. All I ask is that you do the best you can. You'll be invited to stretch beyond your comfort zone, then stretch just a little bit more, because often change doesn't happen without a push. So let's get started. In your Esteemable Acts Journal, write out your answers to the questions at the beginning of the previous paragraph. Don't rush through them. Give yourself plenty of time to really think them through. This is the first step in building real and lasting self-esteem. Obstacles That Get in Your Way You'll encounter many obstacles along the road to living your dreams. Some obstacles may be real, some imagined, some may be tangible, and some may be intangible. Some of those obstacles will be created by others, and some will be self-imposed. However they manifest, you will always be given the choice as to whether you give them power. Before we move on to specific actions you can take to eliminate obstacles or lessen their potency, let's examine three of the most common stumbling blocks that can stand between you and living your dreams. core beliefs as obstacles We are what we believe. We create our reality based on what we think. For example, what do you do in your life that stems from a childhood belief? As a kid, were you taught that vegetables are good for you? Were you taught to brush your teeth after eating because it protects your teeth and gums? Some of you will say, "Well, yes, I was taught certain things, but now I do the opposite of what I was taught." Sometimes we rebel against what we know to be right simply because an authority figure told us to do it, and that's a therapy session all by itself. But it's likely that even if we don't like what we were taught, if it was pounded into our heads over and over again, those beliefs have become an integral part of who we are unless we have made a concerted effort to change them. In your Esteemable Acts Journal, take a moment and identify some beliefs you were raised with. For example, as a kid, what were your thoughts about television, football, piano lessons, dating, cats, poor people, and rich people? What were your thoughts about success, failure, education? To get past the obstacles that bind us we must first know what they are. Like it or not, your beliefs determine the assumptions you make about yourself and other people, and the assumptions you make determine your attitude and your behavior--and how you behave is what defines you. When I believed I wasn't smart enough to go back to school, my actions supported my beliefs; I never even tried. Once I started believing I could do something to change the course of my life, I took actions that supported those beliefs: I enrolled in school. Getting to the place where I believed I could do what I set out to do has been a long, slow, arduous process that has required constant vigilance. I realized that if I was ever going to live the life I wanted, I'd have to confront what was holding me back, face my fears, and walk through them. Despite the negative feelings I often had about myself, I became willing to behave contrary to those feelings. For example, when I thought I wasn't smart enough to read my schoolbooks, I forced myself to read them anyway. I acted as if I knew what I was doing, even though I didn't. Every time I did something I didn't think I could do and got to the other side, I felt great. One small step toward the building of my self-esteem. We are what we believe. It's not easy to know what you really believe, so one thing you can do to better understand your beliefs is to listen to what you say. The words that come out of your mouth often reflect what you really believe, as do the thoughts you keep in your mind. fear as an obstacle Underlying our beliefs is fear--fear that we won't get something we want or that something we have will be taken away from us. Sometimes fear is a motivator, compelling us to take affirmative action. For example, after escaping the South Bronx at eighteen, I knew I never wanted to live there or be poor again. Fear was my motivator. On the other hand, fear is sometimes an obstacle, making it difficult or impossible for us to take action. For example, suppose you loathe your job, but you're afraid to quit and look for another one. It's your fear that keeps you stuck in a job you hate. Fear is a real, human emotion. While it's okay to feel afraid, it's not okay to give in to fear, making it your master. It's not okay to give it permission to stand between you and your dreams. The key to managing fear is to acknowledge it and walk through it. I'm quick to share how afraid I am, because people need to know that you can be afraid and still walk through your fear. Often they are surprised to find out I'm afraid, because for them, if you're afraid, you're paralyzed. Fearful people, in their minds, are unable to take action. Fear is a real and valid emotion; it's what you do with it that can cause trouble. In a recent interview with twenty-five men, each admitted that it was easier to admit they were angry than to admit they were afraid. "You just never let people think you're scared," said Jimmy D. The more that seemingly strong people have the courage to share their fears, the easier it is for others to do the same. Fear is a clever foe. Of all the obstacles that stand in our way, fear is the most powerful, because it can so easily be denied. It comes disguised in many ways, as anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, hurt feelings, and self-pity, to name a few. But whatever the label, fear is still fear, and it has the power to capture your soul, disintegrate your spirit, and eat away at your self-esteem until you are incapable of separating the real from the unreal. You're left blaming someone else for your choices. You give up. So think about it: What are you afraid of? How has fear stopped you from living your dreams? In your Esteemable Acts Journal write out your answers. Then identify how you have faced your fear and achieved your goals. What specific actions have you taken? people as obstacles Sometimes it's not just your fear that gets in the way; other people's fear can set you back, too. No doubt you've encountered people who always have a negative word to say about a project you're starting or a great idea you have. They quickly focus on the reasons you won't succeed. It could be your parent, a teacher, your spouse, or a friend. Regardless of who they are, in most cases it's someone you trust enough to share the idea with in the first place. Meet your dream busters. They bust open your dreams and stifle your spirit--when you let them. When I decided to become a lawyer, I expected the people who initially encouraged me to go back to school to be happy I was living my dream. Every day John, Mary, Susan, and Betty would say, "Francine, you can do it." So it was especially hard to understand why they weren't supportive when I started doing what they told me I could do. After my pain subsided, I realized they couldn't be there for me, because they couldn't be there for themselves. In most cases, they weren't living their own dreams. They were stuck. It wasn't personal. They just couldn't celebrate my success because I reminded them of what they could be doing but weren't. "Why don't you try something easier? What happens if you fail?" they asked. Or, "Won't you be too old to practice law?" Then there were those who were less subtle, who said, "You're an ex-hooker with a criminal record, you'll never get through school, so why even try?" It wasn't only my so-called friends who tried to discourage me. Some of my professors were dream busters, too. One day I excitedly told my professor at UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) I was going to become a lawyer. Knowing my past, he simply laughed and said, "What an imagination you have." He was one of the people who, without even knowing it, motivated me into trying harder than I thought I could. I stretched far beyond my comfort zone often to prove him and other dream busters wrong. Excerpted from Esteemable Acts: 10 Actions for Building Real Self-Esteem by Francine Ward All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.