Self-esteem: boost it by getting a forceful congratulator

Reading: Cut The Self-Criticism — and Win!

Mind Health

Cut The Self-Criticism — and Win!

Her secret weapon was finding a "Forceful Congratulator" to bolster her self esteem

By Lesley Jane Seymour

The Covey: Jaunique, you are SVP, Marketing and Media of Braidy Industries, have a degree in civil engineering from Duke and a law degree from Harvard and a brand new book out called Regroup: The How-to of Never Giving Up. You’ve been ultra-successful in business, from the music world to, now, cosmetics. But when we met you at a Duke event for entrepreneurs, you said the actual secret weapon to your success is something you didn’t learn in school. What is a “Forceful Congratulator,” how does it bolster your self-esteem, and why do we all need one?


A Forceful Congratulator Boosts Your Self-Esteem

Jaunique Sealey: A Forceful Congratulator (FC) is a person who insists that you recognize your accomplishments even in the midst of what you’re experiencing as failure. It’s someone who’ll twist your arm to make sure you pat yourself on the back. The term came up when I did my first home shopping network television show. My company had spent a year developing a skincare line, and debuting the collection on QVC was our opportunity to let viewers know how much work, time, testing, and love had been poured into that little bottle. I had watched the movie “Joy” and convinced myself that I had to sell out! But in that seven-and-a-half minutes, I didn’t get to talk about the ingredients or explain the test results. I felt like I’d blown my big chance.

I was beating myself up when my dad almost yelled at me: “Are you crazy? You sold hundreds! In just seven-and-a-half minutes! You did great!” He had been listening to me over the entire year, so he knew the ins and outs of how QVC worked. His congratulations were specific and credible. He was so passionate that I remember thinking it was almost like we were having a disagreement! The word “forceful” came about because it took a lot for his voice to break through my negative self-critique. He did more than just say “Congratulations” or “You did a great job.” Afterward, my perspective started to shift, and a disaster started to look more like a partial success. I pulled lessons for my next airing.


The Covey: Is a Forceful Congratulator only for entrepreneurs?

Jaunique Sealey: Our culture is so focused on the “big win” that it is easy to overlook the small wins along the way. The biggest threat to success is damaging self-talk, your ability to clearly identify the path in front of you. You internalize the negatives and start to think they have something to do with you. A Forceful Congratulator stops that cascade and helps you see clearly, so you can build yourself back up and fight the next battle with your self-esteem, optimism, and vision intact.

Anyone embarking on an uncertain future—whether in business or school—needs someone to remind them they are moving forward—even when it feels like they’re moving backward! A Forceful Congratulator is insistent beyond the norm, making sure you hear, identify, and internalize your win.


Women Need More Self-Esteem Help than Men

The Covey: Do women need a Forceful Congratulator more than men?

Juanique Sealey: Women internalize failure more often and deeply. Men are adept at finding an external attribution for their shortcomings; women tend to blame themselves. So, yes, women could probably use one more often.


The Covey: What does a Forceful Congratulator do that a mentor or sponsor can’t?

Juanique Sealey: A mentor or sponsor who acts like a map or compass can also be a Forceful Congratulator. Their experience brings a perspective that allows you to see your win or progress while your path is still uncertain. A mentor or sponsor can say “I’ve been there” or “I’ve seen that before,” but they can also say, from a place of authority, “It’s not as bad as you think” or “Here’s the good to be found in this situation.” They can give focus and power to the positive that is being overlooked.


The Covey: How can you become a Forceful Congratulator for a friend, partner, spouse?

Juanique Sealey: Learn about the endeavor that your friend, partner, or spouse is pursuing so that the congratulations you offer are specific. Focus on the kind of congratulations that goes beyond a feel-good moment and will instead drive deep understanding. Approach it persuasively, like you are proving a point during a disagreement because that is what you are essentially having: You and the person you’re congratulating have a fundamental disagreement about whether she is a failure or success! Think of yourself as their ad hoc publicist: How would you promote their successes to others? What’s amazing is how it feels—not just for them, but for you!

  1. Pamela Baxter

    Very interesting approach to helping our less than positive friends through difficult situations.

  2. Jamie

    I read a short piece by Seth Godin about “yeasayers” in our life. There are so many nay-sayers, but your best people, the folks keep around, are your yeasayers. I sent this to my friend in the mail and when I visited her, she had it posted on her fridge:

    The yeasayer
    Opposite of the naysayer, of course.

    This is the person who will find ten reasons why you should try something.

    The one who will embrace the possibility of better.

    The colleague to turn to when a reality check is necessary, because the reality is, it might work.

    Are you up for it?

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