Making Wise Decisions

Consider the difference between being popular and being respected.  The following contrasts might get your attention.

The popular person:

  • Wants to be liked and avoids disapproval
  • Is largely dependent on the approval from others
  • Avoids conflict
  • Responds to peer pressure
  • Wants to fit in with everyone

The respected person:

  • Trusts their own judgment
  • Handles conflict well
  • Is okay with saying, “no”
  • Operates from strength
  • Displays strength of character
  • Often prefers to be eccentric

Which category appears to describe you?  In your network you may know people who prefer to be more in one category than the other.  It appears that more people want to be popular rather than be respected.  Perhaps they are operating more from weakness and are hostage to the approval of others.  

When you think about it, you are always with yourself, therefore, it is insane to dislike or disrespect that person in the mirror.  Your approval, self-respect, and self-concept is primary.  To be hostage to the approval or disapproval of others over your own judgment is counter-productive and insane.

Now ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which has a longer shelf-life, being popular or being respected?

Being popular is very similar to fashion; one minute you are in and the next minute you are out!  Being popular makes you hostage to the whims of the masses, and often the masses can be fickle.  There is often great peer pressure to belong to the “Union of Fitting In.” Many times people who are popular rarely have a strong opinion on anything and are often careful to avoid being controversial or strong-willed.  They want to fit in, be nice, court favor, and avoid conflict.  Popular people are easy to like.

Your being hostage to the approval/disapproval of others makes you adjust your standards and conduct in the interest of gaining temporary favor with them.

People who have long been respected tend to be willing to be unpopular in the interest of a higher standard.  Principles, values, and standards are important to people who are respected.  They often emerge as thought leaders and role models.  They believe that fitting in is sometimes unthinkable and that anyone who is concerned about being popular is out of step with what is important.  Rather they want to operate from integrity, responsibility, and generosity of spirit.


  1. Which is more likely, if you are liked and popular you will be respected… or if you are respected you will be liked and popular?

Certainly either scenario lacks a guarantee.

Think about people who are popular and liked.  You like them because they are easy to be around, fun, funny, charming, affable, polite, flexible, accommodating, deferential, amiable, empathetic, and caring.  All of these are good qualities. However, does it mean that you respect them?

When you respect someone, you admire their values, convictions, discipline, standards, and willingness to live by strong principles.  Over time you may notice that you are drawn to them and begin to like them even if you disagree with some of their convictions.


  1. If you operate from self-respect, are you more likely to be respected?

The degree to which you get respect from others is in direct proportion to your own self-respect.  The more self-respect you have, the more respect you will receive from others.


To ensure that you operate from a position of self-respect, refer to your “Self-Respect Barometer©”.

A barometer measures air pressure.  Boat captains and airplane pilots always check the barometer before they venture out into the sea or sky.  If the barometer indicates that a storm is approaching, they will avoid going out in bad weather.  Barometers give you a reliable prediction of what is ahead.

If you wear a watch, you probably look at your watch or phone routinely to check the time at particular points in the day.  Imagine that you now have an additional gauge on your watch and this gauge is called your “Self-Respect Barometer©.” This gauge continually measures your self-respect at any time you want to check it.

Suppose that you are going to make a decision about a relationship, an initiative, a purchase, a reaction, etc. and this decision has some emotion attached to it, which means that this next decision may be impacted by that emotion.

Look at the following examples around which you have two choices.  Consider which choice is likely to increase your self-respect.

  • Run away from the mess you’ve created and hope that the conflict resolves itself… or, clean up the mess you made and resolve the conflict
  • Buy the item because you must have it now even though you lack the money… or, routinely set aside money so that you can build up your monetary supply
  • Break your commitment with someone because you just got a “better deal”… or, stick with your commitment because you want to be good to your word
  • Over-accommodate your spouse/children to avoid the conflict and the whining… or, stand fast, say no, and remain calm
  • Carry a grudge, keep condemning and wanting a pound of flesh from them… or, forgive, get over it, move on, love what you can love and let the rest go

Before you actually make the decision, check your watch and look at your “Self-Respect Barometer©.”

Now ask yourself, “If I choose this decision does my self-respect go up or down?”  If the answer is “down,” then you can choose a different option.  If the answer is “up,” then go ahead and make that decision.

Remind yourself that self-respect is always the guiding light, guidance counselor, mentor, and the internal locus of control.  Is it worth compromising your self-respect when you make the wrong decision?

By routinely using the “Self-Respect Barometer©” to guide your conduct you are likely to make different and wiser decisions.  Therefore, put your self-respect first.

You will then begin to trust your judgement more.  Your self-respect begets higher standards in you.

Your “Self-Respect Barometer©” is hiding in plain sight.  Refer to it often.  It will help you to make important decisions, retain your strength of character, and maintain your self-respect.

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