Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Earn Huge Self-Esteem Points When My Toyota Dies

On Tuesday my beloved 2000 Toyota Camry died. One of the pistons threw a rod and it penetrated the oil pan. The good news is, this happened on the way to getting an oil change. So I was standing next to a mechanic when I learned about the problem. I towed the car to the dealership, where they told me it would cost $5,000 to replace the engine. The car is 10 years old and not worth the repair. End of a long, affectionate relationship.

This event falls into the category of what I call THE SURPRISE OF THE WEEK. Sometimes the surprise is huge good news. But most of the time it's the other kind of news. The bottom line: no time time for getting wrapped around the axle over it, only time for fixing the problem.

And my problem was, I needed a car. So it was time for research. By the end of the day, I located just the right car on the Internet, and I called the Universal Toyota dealership just east of San Antonio.

The next day, we went down to test-drive the car and haggle over price. The cool thing was, there was no haggling. Mike quickly gave us a great price with lots of perks, and now we're happy owners of the car. We picked it up the next day.

It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Not exactly. There was getting the rental car for the interim, disposing of my old, dead Toyota, which included getting all the "stuff" out of the old car, arranging for payment for the new car, transferring insurance to the new car, and the buying process, which involved lots of paperwork. And oh yeah, I almost forgot. The stress. And the work I didn't get done during that time.

But I just handled it. I just plowed through all that and got it all done in less than 48 hours. And I turned it into a positive. I didn't get stranded or injured on the highway. I won't have to pay for the expensive repairs the old car would have required during the futures years I wanted to keep driving it. And the replacement car is a much better car. I'll enjoy it.

Here's the deal: I feel good about myself for handling it the way I did. That means the experience will feed my positive self-esteem. This is really important to me, because - and I can't emphasize this enough - I need strong self-esteem to do what I want to do with my life.

There are two powerful learnings which I want to share with you, based on my experience:

1. You gotta give yourself credit. Strengthening your self-esteem is like making deposits in a savings account. If you don't give yourself full credit, the success won't be added to the balance of your accomplishments, and you won't accrue interest over time. And the interest is...SELF-ESTEEM.

2. The "small" successes count. Even everyday accomplishments like my car adventure count. Most people don't consciously give themselves credit for the way they deal with life situations like this. They just wipe their brows, say a few choice unprintable words, and go home and have a beer. But if you don't give yourself credit, it won't feed your positive self-esteem.

So if you discount the good things you do every day, it's like throwing the money away instead of depositing it in the savings account. It's like saying, "It's only twenty bucks, screw it." PUT THE MONEY IN THE BANK.

I once coached a man who told me he had low self-esteem. But when he told me about his life, I learned he had recently done two extraordinary things. First, he had conquered his alcohol addiction. How about that! Second, he subsequently went to nursing school and graduated! Cool!

But guess what. He thought both these achievements were no big deal. He didn't count them as things he was proud of. He failed to deposit them into his self-esteem account and wasn't drawing interest. Both his accomplishments were hugely significant and valuable, but he didn't feel that way about it. He had discounted them. He felt they weren't worth much. No wonder he had low self-esteem.

I encourage you to give full value to every good thing you do. Give yourself credit. Start drawing interest. You deserve it!

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


Sarcastic Bastard said...

Congratulations on the new car, Denny.

And you are right, you have to treat yourself like a trusted friend and recognize and acknowledge when you do something well. Good point. It seems so much easier to praise others.

Anonymous said...

While I realize this is off-point from the uplifting message intended within the story, as a car guy - I couldn't help but wonder... why buy another Toyota?

10 years is nothing for a quality car, for catastropihc engine failure at that point, that's quite terrible.

Then to add insult to injury, Toyota wants to charge $5,000 to sell you another over rated engine.

I think I would have used this experience as a "teachable moment" as Obama says, or an inflection point as I see it.

Sounds like a good time to do real research, not preconceived "research" based on outdated biases that continue to sell Toyota products, despite them being woefully uncompetitive.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just an automotive journalist :)

Denny Coates said...

Some good reasonable advice from a knowledgeable source! I agree with it. But we were in a hurry and we found a great car at a great price, I love the way Toyotas drive and we still trust the brand for reliabiliity. But advice well-taken...we should probably do our research long before we really need it!

Meredith Bell said...

Excellent post, Denny. There are so many ways our self-esteem can get diminished. I'm very glad you shed some light on ways to increase the deposits in our self-esteem account.

GreaterSpirit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GreaterSpirit said...

Wonderfully written article. I love the way you use an everyday crisis that many of us have faced and flip it to your advantage.

Lately, my new empowering esteem builder is this:

Believe in others and find those who believe in you.

This flips the idea of searching for esteem all by yourself to giving what you'd like to recieve. Very empowering. I wrote more about this on my blog:
How to Prove Your Worth to Anybody

bax said...

Great job, sometimes you just have to put your head down and pull.

So what did you get?