When teaching or coaching through the eight Imperatives, there is a recommended sequencing to follow. Just as the Imperatives are foundational skills that support development in other areas, they have their own internal foundation. The higher the skyscraper you want to construct, the stronger a base you will need, or sooner or later the building will collapse. Without solid underpinnings, high rises and humans are vulnerable to stormy times and trying ordeals.
First, begin with Emotional Self-Awareness is reading one’s own emotions and recognizing their impact on personal choices and interactions with others. Our emotions and connected feelings are the driving forces behind our behaviors. Therefore, the first step toward changing our behaviors – and how they affect others – is the development of Emotional Self-Awareness. Once established, Emotional Self-Awareness is an internal light—detecting the motion of our emotions and shedding clarity on the path to our goals. It will give us the freedom to respond rather than react.
Next, move to Self-Assessment. Like gazing into a mirror, engaging in Self-Assessment allows for observation and reflection. This skill involves studying yourself in depth—how you reason and relate, how you are able to do tasks or succeed in your given field. Without accurate Self-Assessment, people over or underestimate themselves. When abilities are undervalued, people’s potential remains untapped; when overestimated, people exaggerate their own influence, set unrealistic goals or insist on always appearing right. Self-Assessment finds its greatest meaning when it is brimming with kindness and accuracy.
Third up is Self-Alignment. In broad terms, Self-Alignment often indicates your level of satisfaction with the way you are: your qualities, characteristics and social roles. This attribute operates within the framework of “self-concept,” the nature and organization of all the thoughts, feelings and perceptions you have about yourself. Homebuilding is no simple undertaking; the process is complicated and nuanced. Likewise, while critical to an individual’s development, Self-Alignment is one of the trickiest PAIRIN attributes to interpret and strengthen.
Next is Self-Confidence. Having Self-Confidence does not mean you are unrealistic about yourself or that you feel certain in all situations; but when a specific endeavor (e.g., public speaking, extreme skiing, passing an exam) stirs waves of doubt, you reach for courage. You move forward toward your desired goals—starting small, working through challenges, practicing and learning from mistakes—until courage crystallizes into confidence. True confidence—as opposed to the “show” people project to mask their insecurities—is a radical superpower.
Then, move to Self-Blame. Healthy critique is a serious examination and judgment of something within one’s control to modify. This skill helps us get real! It can motivate responsible lifestyle changes or bring a dose of humility to inflated Self-Confidence. The danger is when we blame ourselves for failures that lie beyond our control or powers to avoid. This inner critic is associated with the attribute of “Self-Blame”. Additionally, high Self-Blame is correlated with high Self-Restraint. And this inhibits people from expressing thoughts and feelings that would be very valuable and important for others to hear. Thus, high Self-Blame is also a thief! Please note, we do not have curriculum on Self-Blame because it is more common to need to dial this skill back rather than develop it.
Sixth is Self-Restraint. There are times when it is critical for us to think through what will happen, and refrain from spontaneous behavior. Self-Restraint gives us the ability to put our urges on “lockdown.” But how useful is a lock without it’s matching key? In practicing Self-Restraint, it is also important that we not lose the freedom to fearlessly release words or actions for the good of others, or ourselves. Those who can moderate this skill understand when it is wise and appropriate to express a particular emotion, when it is best to restrict its expression, and how to redirect and rework thoughts and actions in a productive manner.
Finally, tackle Stress Tolerance and Resiliency. The world is loaded with pressure, pain, trouble and strain. We all feel it—at different rates, for different reasons and with different outcomes. Yet some people are better at responding to life’s trials than others, and the reason why is related to Stress Tolerance and Resiliency. Simply put, Stress Tolerance is withstanding life pressures, while it’s counterpart, Resiliency, is springing back after failure. Both skills—whether in resisting or in rebounding—contend with stress.