Respect begins at home

23 August 2017

It is a frequently used term, highly emotionally charged and yet what does it actually mean? He or she has no self-respect. Here follows my attempt at making sense of it.

To respect is to accept what is, without disparaging judgement nor criticism. Respect begins at home, with you. Unless you can respect yourself, warts and all, you cannot respect others. This is respecting of self or self-respect. Integral to this contention is the fact that we incorporate many of the traits of others in ourselves. But the concept of self-respect includes another component – the acknowledgement of one’s unique value-contributing potential. In this context, value contribution is making something better than it was before you engaged with it. It follows therefore that unless you unconditionally respect all that you authentically are together with the acknowledgement of identifiable value-contributing traits, you have little or no self-respect.

The key requirement for arriving at self-respect is self-awareness. Invariably but not always, self-awareness is a consequence of repeatedly hitting our heads against life’s passing challenges and re-appraising ourselves in the context of our own subjective narrative, in order to be able to transcend similar challenges in the future. Self-awareness is similar to self-respect in this way – as we respect self so we respect others and the environment and similarly, as we become aware of self we become aware of others, the greater environment and our place in that greater space.

I would propose that flowing from self-awareness and self-respect arise evolutionary ethics and values - a non-judgemental (disparaging-free) perception of the greater environment and an intrinsic drive to value contribution.

Much advice, coaching and instruction prevails, in regard to initiating and enhancing business ventures as well as relationships in general. I would contend that it is the ethics and values of the individual and of the business venture, partnership or organization which provide the sustainability and ultimately the success. Ethics and values permeate the entire internal culture of the organization, the branding, the marketing as well as the engagement with clients.

And so I would suggest that long before general coaching and instruction is implemented to enhance wellness, personal performance or the business fundamentals, we need to ensure that intrinsic values and ethics based on self-respect exist within the individual (and within the organization as a whole).

One does not require prolonged coaching nor psychotherapy to learn and integrate values and ethics. All that is required is to:

1. Refrain from entering into a mind state of habitual disparaging judgementalism of others. Perceive, reason, evaluate and clarify. But replace judgementalism with a sensitivity to the fact that each individual is an end product of a unique history over which there was very little control, in absolute terms. We are not expected to embrace the most repugnant. Clarity regarding their behavior, sans hostile and destructive emotions on our part, is sufficient.

2. Commit to contributing value to self, others and to the environment.

3. Subscribe to honesty and accountability especially insofar as failed value contribution is concerned.

Loyalty to values and ethics based on self-respect takes courage, more so during challenging times. But the long term return on this investment is priceless – for you and for the greater environment.


Those that have need to habitually rant, whinge and whine achieve very little value for themselves and for the extended environment. They merely perpetuate similar behavior in sympathy or in reaction and in terms of my proposed definition, reflect compromised self-respect.

Those that have need to habitually confront, judge, prescribe or seek to discredit, reflect a need to defend their subjective comfort zones. It is essentially a fear-based behavior and again, is somewhat compromised on self-respect. For further clarity on this archetype refer to


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