Respect is a Reflection


image“He that respects himself is safe from others. He wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If you want respect, first look to the source.

The source is you.

Like so many things, respect flows from the inside out., and self-respect is the strongest stream.  You get what you expect.  So first, you have to expect it from yourself.  So the question becomes, do you respect yourself the way you want to be respected?

In the book, It’s Not About You: A Little Story of What Matters Most In Business, by Bob Burg and John David Mann, the authors share the secret of respect … it comes from you, not from others.

Trust Yourself

Lead by example.  If you want people to trust you, first trust yourself.

“… I’m not talking about gaining their respect.  I’m talking about your respect.  You want those people to trust you?  Trust yourself.  Listen, humility doesn’t mean self-abasement, or devaluing your own worth.

You can only be genuinely humble if you have enormous self-respect.  That’s something I learned from Pindar, even though I never met him — because it shines through the people he associates with, the people I have met.”

Respect from Others is a Reflection, Not the Source

Don’t look to others to find your respect.  Respect yourself first.  Burg and Mann write:

“Self-respect is where every other kind of respect comes from.  Respect from others is a reflection, not the source.  It’s not like, ‘Oh, if my boss respected me, if my son respected me, if the world respected me, that would be great, …’ as if having respect from those other people would somehow generate your own respect for yourself.”

Respect is a reflection of self-respect.

It starts from the inside out.

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  1. Abso-totally-lutely JD. EVERYTHING is an inside job from the inner to the outer. It’s not what we project in mind, it’s what we project in all aspects of who we are. The world is one big version of all we transmit.

  2. Interesting post, Jd!

    Trusting yourself is key to becomes trusted.

    That’s absolutely true.

    ‘respect from others is a reflection, not the source’

    The word is our mirror. That I already have experienced. But I never thought about it in the context of having respect for others. It is absolutely true – but not so easy to realize.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I think this is partly right. Lots of people who respect themselves aren’t necessarily respected by others (those who are poor or part of particular minorities for instance).

    I do think having self respect is important. But I don’t think it automatically leads to others respecting you.

  4. @ John — I’m very much a fan of inner-engineering 😉

    @ Marc — Yes, the world is our mirror and it’s interesting on how many levels and in how many ways this plays it itself out.

    @ Evan — Yes, and to put it another way, if you don’t respect yourself, it’s unlikely others will.

    @ Farouk — There’s an interesting related psychology insight to this. People like people that like them, when they like themselves. People don’t like people that like them, when they don’t like themselves. It’s like, “How could you like me, if I don’t like me?”

  5. Hi J.D. — self-respect is a life-changing idea, isn’t it — what I’ve come to realize is that, if I really am going to respect myself, there are many things that I do regularly in my life that I need to let go of. For example, there are events I used to go to out of a desire to keep others happy, and I have cut those out of my life because attending them was actually disrespectful to me and my wants. It’s actually challenging to do what self-respect requires, but of course greatly rewarding as well.

  6. @ Chris — Well put. I heard a colleague the other day use a great metaphor, “Put your oxygen mask on first, then help others.”

  7. Hi JD,

    I live by a law that says, “As within so without.” so if we want others to respect us in life, we first have to respect ourselves and see ourselves getting the respect we need. Just like you mentioned, we get we we expect. Nice post my friend, keep it up. 😉

  8. Hi JD,

    So, SO true. When we don’t respect ourselves, we are continuously faced with people who don’t respect us. When we know our own worth, we are surrounded by people who also respect us. It always starts with us.

    Interestingly enough, I was just thinking about respect this morning. Perfect timing! 🙂


  9. @ Dia –I like your law. It’s sticky and precise. I actually haven’t heard it before, but it rings of timeless wisdom.

    @ Melody — I know what you mean. When I joined Microsoft long ago, I was surrounded by people way better than me at just about everything. Once I figured out what I brought to the table, not only did it give me a leg to stand on and a firm foundation, but respect grew out of that place of strength, and I became a “go-to” person for my arenas.

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