The Chicken Or the Egg – Self Esteem and Success

Let me say right from the  start that I have long respected the work of Dr. Joe Robino.  However, I have always had serious reservations about his take on the role of self esteem as the primary precursor to happiness and success.  To me, I have often wondered if self esteem and success was similar to the old question: Which came  first the chicken or the egg?

Dr. Robino’s primary theory is that “Your level of self-esteem is the primary determining factor that influences your behavior in EVERY MOMENT of your Life!”  In fact, he goes so far at to say that self esteem is the “Most Underrated Ingredient for Success and Happiness in Life.”

I, on the other hand have thought that true self esteem is not the precursor of success but the product of being successful.  Some recent research that I have come across seems to back up my theory.  Understand that this is the results of one test and not an extensive series of testing.

The study was published by Wiley InterScience. The study DOES HIGH SELF-ESTEEM CAUSE BETTER PERFORMANCE, INTERPERSONAL SUCCESS, HAPPINESS, OR HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES?” The study was originally published by Roy F. Baumeister, Jennifer D. Campbell, Joachim I. Krueger, Kathleen D. Vohs in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages1 – 44

Their conclusions were that yes, high self esteem by itself does lead to a higher level of happiness, but it had virtually no effect on increased success. However, success did lead to a higher level of self esteem and that this type of self esteem did in fact lead to further successes.

Further, self esteem without concurrent success is primarily a product of ego and tended to lead to narcissistic behavior, defensiveness, and conceit.  There was, however, one important exception, people with high self esteem tended to be highly persistent in the face of failure and this strongly supports ultimate success.

In an article in the New York Times Magazine, journalist Lauren Slater investigated the role of self esteem as a determinant of success.  Although she found that followers of self esteem had almost a religious fervor when it came to their beliefs, that self esteem when tested scientifically had no effect upon academic or business success. She did find however that people with high self esteem were typically happier than those with low esteem.

While high self esteem may not lead to success, happiness is a worthy goal and you should take every measure you can to increase your level of happiness and if that means following a program to improve your self esteem, you should consider it seriously.

Interview a person on their death bed and they will rarely complain about not making enough money during their lifetime but they will tell you that they wish that had spent more time having fun. Although the scientific tests do not support Dr. Robino’s success theory, it does support his theory that high self esteem leads to greater happiness.

Stan Pontiere has been an avowed self-help geek since high school-more than 40 years ago. For more information on self-fulfillment please visit: or my blog at:

Further Reading:

Learning to Enjoy Your Own Company

How to Beat Shyness With Some Very Simple Techniques

How to Boost Your Self Confidence – 6 Great Tips You Can Use