Self-confidence is all about looking within and appreciating your strengths and skills. How can you use it to redirect your life for the better? Rosie Zilinskas aims to answer this question with confidence coach and Director of Self Love Beauty, Lisa Thompson. She talks about the importance of loving oneself to overcome setbacks and finally escape the feeling of being stuck. Lisa explains how to become more confident in your career by understanding the contrast between masculine and feminine leadership. She also tackles the need for proper corporate responsibility and the impact of facing your vulnerable self.
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Understanding The Power Of Self-Confidence With Lisa Thompson
In this episode, we are talking with Lisa Thompson because she is a confidence expert. She is going to clarify a lot of different things for us about confidence. She is the Founder and Director of Self Love Beauty, a confidence coach, podcast host, Cofounder of BluWave Wellbeing, and author. Her mission is to help individuals become unstuck, love themselves, and take personal action for self-improvement. This is going to be a very empowering conversation, so you don’t want to miss this one. Stay tuned.
Lisa, thank you so much for being with me. You are the host of The Confident Podcast. That is such important work. Before we start talking about all the awesome stuff that you do, I want to level-set a little bit. My show is about women in the corporate trying to move up the ladder. What is it that we are talking about when we say the word confidence?
A lot of times, people get confidence confused with self-love and self-esteem. Confidence is your belief in your own skills, talents, and abilities. When you think about competence it’s, “Do I have confidence in what I am working on?” Maybe your task, finances, human resources or writing. It’s about having that ability to believe in yourself because many times, we get it confused of, “I’m not worthy.” That’s self-esteem but confidence is in your belief in your abilities and talents.
We all have it inside of us to do things. Many times we get uncomfortable with starting that we don’t even do it. When you start your confidence journey, it’s about understanding like, “My belief in my skills and abilities might be a little bit low when I start but if I don’t get started, I’m never going to have the confidence to believe in those skills over time, to grow in our careers or anything that we are working on.”
I like the fact that you differentiate self-esteem. I read that self-esteem is more internal versus confidence is external. Would you agree with that?
If you put confidence without self-confidence, it would be more external but self-confidence is still in your belief in your abilities and talents. Self-esteem is how you perceive your worth. Let’s use a work setting. If you were in a meeting and you’ve got called on, you would be able to answer the question because you believe in your skills and talents but you might not want to be picked on because you are too scared that, “Am I worthy of being able to answer what will people think?” That’s the lack of self-esteem that we have in ourselves. When you have more self-esteem, you want to raise your hand, see your work and have it shine. It’s the same thing with confidence. It’s perceived externally by other people.
I appreciate that distinction because you are right. We confuse self-esteem with self-confidence. When we are talking about corporate leaders, you and I started to have a conversation that sometimes corporate leaders are aggressive, rude or very demanding. They are worried about the bottom line. They have their own worries. I don’t know that they necessarily are thinking about other people and how the leader makes other people feel when they are being aggressive. Can you talk a little bit about the energy we talked about, as far as the male energy and the female energy?
This is one of my favorite topics to talk about. Confidence is where I’m the expert. When you think about feminine energy versus masculine energy, we were all born a specific way in some way. We carry some type of traits. A lot of times throughout our lives, maybe sometimes it starts in middle school or high school, girls specifically are taught that, “You need to be a little bit more assertive and demanding.” At that time in our lives, it also looked bad in a way. As we get into college and walk into our career life, we see the tables filled with men and with, “To get to the top, I have to do X, Y, Z.”
Millennials are going after organizations that have corporate responsibility and proper work-life balance. They care less about the salary and more about the benefits that come with it. – Lisa Thompson Click To Tweet
What we do in that way is we lose that feminine energy, which means that we are not leading as much with empathy, not putting the human first with our teams, and not looking at it from those aspects. Instead, we are looking at it from, “We have this goal to meet. We have to meet this money thing,” without thinking about the people in between. I’m going to use the example of mothers. They have this energy about them.
They are very motherly. They care so much for their children and kids’ friends. You think about it in that aspect but then in the workplace, we are taught that you need to “care” but at the same time, you need to be demanding and pushing, in a way, having that masculine energy of that straight shooter type of quality.
What we are doing is we are not being ourselves. We are missing out on this energy. I truly believe that women in leadership are probably the best when they follow and think about their feminine energy. Take any type of woman in leadership, and what do we love about them? In certain people, at least, when you think about Michelle Obama or the owner of Spanx, what you love about them is that their personality is vibrant, that you can relate to them, that they have that humanizing piece of them. Look at the women who scare you in the corporate world. They share a different type of energy that doesn’t make us feel or resonate with them. Women are missing an opportunity to bring out that feminine energy they have had all along.
How does it change when someone recognizes that they are leading with masculine energy? Let’s say a woman thinks that they have to be cold, aggressive, and demanding. How would you say things shift to them, recognizing that they are leading with masculine energy versus feminine energy? What changes?
The one thing that you have to do is have self-check-ins with yourself. It’s easy to go to external people. If you ask your employees, they might be a little bit nervous to tell you, “You are a little demanding.” It’s about that self-check. Like what I say about self-confidence and self-esteem, it’s all about the self. You have to check in with yourself, “Am I being true to who I am? Is the assertiveness, demanding and cold way okay with me?” If it’s not, then that’s when you have to step back and look at, “What about me that do my friends like? What do I like about myself?” That’s when you can notice, “I care about X, Y, Z. I always make sure that when my friend’s birthdays come, I give them a gift and say gratitude. I make sure that I’m always showing up for people.”
You have to do that in your work as well. Think about some feminine energies that you show with your kids or friends, and then bring that into the workplace as well. If you are struggling, the biggest thing that I tell people is, “You need to invest in yourself.” The reason why there are experts out there to help you is that they have been doing it for so long. That’s when you reach out and say, “I’m struggling with this. I know I need to do some self-check-ins but what else could I be doing to bring out that feminine energy to be a stronger leader?”
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are very big but they should have always been big. As women, we have this opportunity to utilize our voices and lead from within to make people feel like they belong. Many people have many skills and qualities but they hold them back because they have the culture they are in. They are too scared to think, “I’m a peg that can’t fit the box.” What we want is like, “We don’t want you to fit. We want you to stand out. We want to utilize your skillset.” As women, I truly believe we have this opportunity to make other people rise as well.
I believe you said that there’s a shift in newer leaders that are up and coming. Can you talk a little bit about what you have observed with new leaders rising in the corporate world?
“People want to work hard but they want to play hard.” That has always been a saying that we have used. I keep using quotes when I say these things. We have said this stuff, and it’s true. What I’m noticing with this new generation is that they are going after organizations and companies that have corporate responsibility, work-life balance, and care about their individuals. They are caring less about the salary per se and more about the benefits that come with it.
When I say benefits, do you care about their mental well-being and helping them grow? Do you focus on their professional development? What do you want as a company and as an employee? What they are basically saying is that they want to belong and feel like the company is people first, which is very intriguing because if you ask any generation, everybody wanted that this whole time.
This generation that’s coming up behind me is much more vocal about it because they have watched my parents and my generation be exhausted to the point that we have mental health issues that we have never talked about. That’s a very intriguing conversation where we can learn from this generation of standing up for ourselves.
I’m learning too that they don’t want to work for someone that scares them. They want to work for someone that they respect. There’s something very intriguing about that. A lot of people think women empowerment means that you can’t push someone and challenge them. As a woman in leadership, that’s exactly what we should be doing. We should be challenging this next generation and each other but it’s how we do it. That’s the difference.
I shouldn’t scare you a little bit so that you want to continue to challenge yourself but not so much that you are having anxiety that you don’t want to come to work. There’s a fine line in that. I also believe that if you come alongside someone, instead of saying, “I’m your leader. Do as I say,” you come along to them and say, “I want you to own this and be empowered to lead.” You are giving someone that leadership and confidence to believe in their skills and abilities, and then you are going to see more people flourish.
The younger generations coming into the workplace don’t put up with being mistreated or others being mistreated. There’s not as much longevity in that generation as there is in even my generation. I have been employed for a long time and other people coming up in the industry, maybe 3 or 5 years, and then they move on to other areas.
That’s very interesting that this newer, younger generation, and I don’t want to necessarily call them Millennials because some of those individuals are Gen X-ers too. There is some awakening as far as what they are seeking in life. It’s not necessarily monetary. Can you talk a little bit more about what you mean when you say corporate responsibility?
A lot of employees want to see how a corporation is giving back and how they are utilizing what they bring to this world to help back into their communities. A lot of people want to give back but they don’t know how. I have noticed, even when I used to work in recruiting for a corporation that I worked for, that was a question that they brought up, “What’s your social impact? What’s your sustainability? How are you helping certain causes?”What I’m noticing is that a lot of individuals are looking for companies that align with their core values, which is important because we are trying to find more purpose in our work more than ever.
As someone who teaches purpose, confidence, passion, and all of those things, I love seeing that. That’s extremely important. I always challenge employees to also look at it as, “If your company is going to do all of this for you, what are you going to do for your company?” I also truly believe that we live in a society where we have and want all of these things but we also have to be willing to put the work in.
That’s a difference because so many times we ask, and we are like, “This company should be doing X, Y, Z but I’m going to take the easy way out.” That’s not okay. One stipulation that I do have when it comes to all of this is that if you want all of these things, then you need to also have your best foot forward because that’s unfair to ask a company to give up so many resources and fund all of these things if you are not willing to put the work in as well. It’s give and take.
That’s a fantastic point because a lot of employees want to take, and then when it comes to contributing, they are like, “That’s too much work.” When women in their careers are trying to move up the ladder, sometimes they might have setbacks. How do you deal with setbacks? What is your recommendation when someone tries hard to apply for a position and doesn’t get it? What is your recommendation when it comes to that confidence at that point?
I always tell people that, at the moment, it’s going to suck. I can’t tell you anything different that I can’t change that for you because I still have my moments where I get rejected or have a failure. I sit this up. I tell everybody this. I allow myself that time but then I tell myself like, “You’ve got 24 hours. Feel all the feels. Do whatever you need to do to feel bad for yourself but after 24 hours, you have to make a decision. Do you allow this to define you or do you move forward?” It’s a rule that I have. I had something come up, and I gave myself 36 hours.
I gave myself a little bit more time but it was because I needed that. I knew that it was hard on me but then I realized something too. It’s like, “I have a decision. We all have choices. We all have this map in front of us on which road. We can go left, right, forward or backward.” Setbacks are going to happen. I look at setbacks as an opportunity because you get to set back and now reevaluate, “Did I even want that job that I applied for?” If you wanted it, you need to have people look at your resume, practice your interviews and do some networking. If you are asking yourself these questions and realizing, “I didn’t want it,” then that gives you the opportunity to be like, “What do I want?”
You do some research on the job opportunities out there and see what makes you come alive when you are reading the descriptions. I look at it as two-fold. It gives you the opportunity to move forward and push yourself if you want that job or a moment to step back from it, “I didn’t want that. I thought I did.” A lot of us have that. I worked in communications and marketing for a very long time. It’s easy for me to keep saying, “I could go get a marketing job,” but do I want that? No, I love what I do. What you have to remind yourself is you can take the easy way out or challenge yourself when it comes to a setback.
The quote of the day is going to be, “Sit in the suck.” That is true because you do have to feel those feelings. A lot of times, people don’t necessarily take the time to process and feel those feelings. Even if you put your best foot forward, sometimes it’s not going to go your way. That’s when I say, “It wasn’t meant to be, and there’s something better out there waiting for you.” I also like the fact that you said you have to reevaluate. Maybe it was your resume, interviewing skills or that you need to practice some mock interviewing. Those are all good things. That posts the sitting in the suck when you are in the sauce and do the ice cream, pizza, chips, and all that good stuff.
I let myself cry. The biggest thing is that I allow myself to be very vulnerable. One thing too is instead of finding crutches like I will have an ice cream or a glass of wine, what I do is I feel the feels. That means I cry, bawl, write or journal. That’s how when I’m sitting in the suck. I take a moment to feel the feelings because what we do as a society is hold those feelings in. If we don’t deal with the emotions right at that moment, we will get the next job because you pushed forward, and you had never felt into your feelings. That can cause over time a big moment where your mental health could be affected in the future.
You said that self-care is different. How is self-care different?
Self-care has five different elements to it. It’s about physical, mental, spiritual, social, all different aspects that come out. What we have to do sometimes is noticed, “Where am I struggling? Where do I need some self-care?” When people hear self-care, they still think the bubble baths, which I very much love but it’s about how you do mental stimulation. How are you taking care of your mind and yourself spiritually? All of those have to do with your physical and mental health, which is important. Self-care, to me, is important. I have my own ways. One of the coolest things about self-care is the same thing with self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s all about you.
It’s got that self word in it. It’s not what everybody else is doing. It’s what works for you. I have my own ways of self-care that are very different from the people in my life but we respect each other for that like, “You need that time out. You go do your self-care. I’m going to take care of myself.” One of the most beautiful things is when you know what you need, then in the moments of feeling like things suck or maybe you need a mental break. You are able to pick up those tools out of your toolbox to care for yourself.
What would you say to a woman trying to do all the things you are describing, taking care of themselves with the self-care, working on their skills and the traits for their confidence, and things aren’t happening for them as far as moving up the ladder? What do you think they can work on or look at in a different way that could help them get unstuck? A lot of our women are stuck in a job that they have and may not even be aware that they are holding themselves back.
I would say a few things. The first one is always to give yourself some grace. What we do as women is we are hard on ourselves. I attest to that so much. I’m hard on myself but if we don’t give ourselves grace, it’s hard to get out of that being stuck part because you are not even allowing yourself some grace. The second thing is, do not put a time limit on it. I’m a very goal-oriented person. A lot of people think like, “In six months, I have to have X, Y, and Z to figure it out.” We can all agree that no matter what in our lives, that’s never happened in the time that we have probably wanted it to.
It’s important to have that goal but understand that there has to be flexibility with that. The third thing is that you need to start asking yourself the hard questions, “Am I stuck in not moving up the ladder because the ladder I’m trying to go on isn’t for me?” Many times, we don’t ask ourselves the hard questions because our friends are like, “You should be moving up that. Why aren’t you? You deserve this and that.” If at the end of the day, you aren’t even aligned in the heart to want that, the universe is not going to give it to you nor should you want that. “Why do I want this? What joy will this bring to my life? Is it because I want it or everybody else wants it for me?”
Also, it’s defining what success means to you. You might be stuck because you don’t know what success means to you. Maybe you have already hit that corporate job that you have or any job, and maybe you need to turn right, left or take a step back. I don’t know what that means for each person individually but those are the questions you have to ask yourself. The thing is that you have to sit down. You have to sit in a quiet space. You have to be okay with the quiet, without your phone and the distractions, even for five minutes a day.
Reflecting on it is better. I know people always say, “I don’t have time for X, Y, Z.” We all have five minutes. You can find five minutes. If you can find five minutes, then five minutes a day is going to be a game-changer for you. I’m not asking for one hour. I would love an hour myself but I don’t even have that. It’s important that you focus at least for a little bit a day.
Asking yourself those hard questions is a great suggestion. Sometimes people think that they want to continue to move up the ladder because they want to continue to make more money. The thing that we do need to ask ourselves if you are already making X amount of dollars is increasing that salary by 10% to make you happier. “Is the salary getting you happier or is volunteering and giving back to other people going to make you happier and more fulfilling? How did you get into this work? What is a little bit about your journey?”
Everything that you are saying is completely resonating with me, the quote of the day is, “Sitting in the suck,” and then asking the hard questions. You have accomplished so much in your short career that I know you have. I would like to learn a little bit more about your journey, specifically, how did you get into the confidence work? That’s something that all women need to work on.
I’m very real and raw about my own journey because it’s important for people to know that I just didn’t become competent overnight. I’m still having my moments where I lack in some areas. If we get to the root cause, it takes you back to the middle school and to the moment when people started to tell me that I was too loud, driven, smart, all those things that I should have been appreciating but I started to downplay myself.
As high school began, I was playing multiple sports. I was in a bunch of things and wanted to be the best at everything. I felt like when I wasn’t good, I’ve got so much into that perfectionism mindset where I didn’t feel like I was good enough, and then I would be hard on myself. It started there. High school was a tough time for body image. I was never one of those girls who was that stick figure. I compared myself so much. I had that comparison mindset.
I went off to college, culture shock, to the tee. I’m from a small town and went to a big university, Michigan State. I now had a whole pool of people to compare myself to. Through all of that, I also feel like I was able to hide a lot of my lack of competence because I was born a driven person. I worked multiple jobs. I knew what I wanted for my career or so I thought.
It came down to when I left college, I got my first corporate job and another culture shock. You are going from college into the big girl lifestyle. That’s where I noticed that I needed to do something about it. I was struggling. I was not happy. I needed to make new friends. I had moved to a new state. I started to write about my journey.
Where it started was just writing. Blogs were not popular at the time that I started a blog. God forbid, at that time, you share your opinion out into the world. I’ve got a lot of criticism from people and people that were like, “Why would you ever tell anybody what you are going through?” That shares right there that the stigma was very strong then. For some reason, I didn’t give that up. I continued to move forward. Within two years, we had over 200 contributor writers sharing their stories because I truly believe that women have stories. I’m going to relate to some, and others are going to relate to others.
Long story short, through all of this, I found this passion. I went through something so much that I did not love myself. I did not respect myself. I didn’t even know where to begin. I did a lot of research, and I knew that this was a purpose and a calling for myself. Over the course of years, I have transformed to become a confidence expert because so many women go through these moments in their lives. They are not embracing, not sitting in the suck, and not having the hard conversations with themselves. I want women and anybody to know that they can reach their full potential but it takes a long time, and that’s okay as long as you never give up on yourself.
Tell me a little bit about your podcast. It’s called The Confident Podcast. How long have you had the podcast? What are your listeners get out of your podcast?
I started The Confident Podcast as The Confident Girl Podcast in 2017. If you listen back to 2017, it probably wasn’t as good as it is now because I didn’t know what I was doing. Besides, I knew that people needed to hear messages about confidence and stories from others to know that they are not alone. The biggest thing that we do is we get into our heads that, “I’m the only one that thinks this. I’m the only one going through it.” What I wanted to do was bring on real people and raw stories and also provide tools for individuals.
If they are going to listen to my podcasts, they are not only hearing my story. I’m very open about that. I talk all about my story and journey but I also bring on guests to help individuals grow and have the tools to help them with their confidence. That’s what we are about. We have been around for many years. We have grown tremendously, and we are grateful for that. I always share with people that our podcast is all about providing you with opportunities to grow in your confidence, self-love journey, and learn from others.
I am a listener as well. I want to go back to one thing that you said. You coach both men and women. One of the things that I have noticed about men and women is that women sometimes hold onto things a lot longer than men do. The other thing that I mentioned to you is women are much more permission-driven. It’s almost like they need permission to either speak up or apply for jobs. What can you share with us about an observation between men’s and women’s actions and thoughts? I’m curious if you have noticed anything in your journey.
When you think about the root causes of where our traumas or triggers come from, women want to know it right away. They want to figure it out and have an action plan in place. They want to figure it out because we want to help people and ourselves. Men tend to know that they have issues but they let it go deep into them. They don’t ask for help until the very last minute. Some women do that too. I know a few men I have been working with and watching them over time. They know that they have a problem or some issues that they need to focus on but they don’t want to take care of that because that means getting uncomfortable and being more vulnerable.
Women tend to be a little bit more open to that. They are more open to, “Let’s open this loon. It’s going to suck a little bit but we will get through it,” and they will talk about their feelings more. Men have a much harder time with that. What I have noticed in a group setting is it’s the opposite. I have had a lot more men be vulnerable in group settings than women.
That shows you an observation between one-on-one and group settings, which is intriguing to me. One of the coolest things is when you work in group settings with both men and women, it helps everybody see, “We are all going through it. We just handle it differently.” The more men open up, the more women feel comfortable opening up because, back to your point about permission, it’s like, “They are being vulnerable now. I’m going to be a little bit more vulnerable.”
That is a permission thing that we will see for a while. Women are still trying to find their voice because how our voices come off sometimes can be perceived in many ways. Many women are more scared of how they are going to come off with what they say but men aren’t scared. They say what’s on their mind, and then everybody else formulates around them. When women say something, it could come off in a strong way to some people, and then it pushes people back in some, “Is it right or wrong?” No, but that’s the society we live in now. We are trying to figure that out and have more women have their voices heard.
I truly hope that starts changing. I read a statistic from a clinical psychologist that said, “Girl’s confidence peaks at age nine.” I was a little heartbroken when I read that because if our confidence speaks at age nine, then we have all these women going through life suffering because of the lack of confidence, which is why your work is so important for women specifically but people in general, with everybody.
I will caveat that real quick. A study shows that people lose their creativity at the age of five if parents don’t help their children have that creativity. I share that creative side because we all have this creative, artistic side to us in a certain way. Maybe you are an engineer, a doctor or a writer. We all have this way. If you, as a child, don’t get that creativity, then it does hurt your self-esteem and confidence over time because you are formulating certain things in your brain.
That’s also important for any mom out there to know that if your kid is being wacky and crazy at the age of five, let them be. Let them wear the clothes that don’t match and have the hairdo they want because that will help them in their 40s or 50s because they will remember, “I was me. I was able to be creative, and someone loved me for it.” When they hit the age of nine, their confidence and self-esteem are going to be a little bit higher than the other people who weren’t able to do that at the age of five.
Helicopter parenting is hurting girls’ confidence. I was guilty of this. Had I known differently, I would have probably parented differently. You, as a parent, try to ease as much pain and suffering of your child as much as you can but at the same time, trying to do everything for them, you are not letting your kids, specifically girls, problem-solve.
If they don’t problem solve, that’s going to translate into them not knowing or believing in themselves, which ultimately translates into them earning up to $2 million less than males just simply by not feeling confident to negotiate. It’s all connected. It will go to the roots of your life. Can you share two actionable tips that women can implement in their lives so that they can become unstuck or feel a little bit more confident in their careers?
This is the first one. I love affirmations but I always tell people to take a step further instead of using the “I am” affirmations. Ask yourself, what do you like about yourself and what you are great at? Tool number one that I would say is affirmations are extremely important. All of my clients use them but you have to ask yourself, what do you like about yourself and what you are great at? That’s a huge question. If you can’t define those things, how can you expect someone to give you that job raise or anything like that if you can’t even define how great you are as a person? That’s step one.
Step two is to know that your journey is different than someone else’s. It’s the reflection of slowing down and sitting in the suck when things happen. I always tell anybody I was never an advocate for journaling because I didn’t enjoy it for years. That is what I live by now because it is a brain dump for you. It allows you to reflect and sit.
Spend five minutes on yourself a day. I’m not asking for 1 or 2 hours but 5 minutes can be important for your growth. Those are two things that are very short and sweet. I’m going to add one other thing I would always tell anybody. If you don’t have the answers, someone can probably help you. I encourage women so much to invest in themselves.
It is so easy for us to go and buy $200 worth of clothes. Imagine if you spent the $200 investing in your growth in a different way for you to make more, pay, and do things you want to invest in yourself. I always tell everybody that it’s going to cost you some money but the only way you are going to pay attention to the process and growth is if you pay to play because when anything is handed to us for free, we don’t take it as seriously. When you invest in yourself, you are going to take yourself more seriously.
Any final words of wisdom?
Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to talk about confidence. To anybody out there, give yourself some grace. Know that we were all suffering in some way or another. We all want to see women rise, and it’s time for you to use your inner voice to change the world.
I truly believe that this was a very empowering conversation, especially if you are in the corporate world and trying to move up the ladder. I am going to recap the three tips that Lisa gave us. Tip number one, ask yourself what you like best about yourself and what you are great at. Lisa says that if you can’t define those things, how do you expect someone else to give you the job raise if you can’t define how great you are?
Tip number two, know that your journey is different than someone else’s. Reflection is slowing down and sitting in the suck whenever things happen. Journaling is also great for a brain dump. It allows you to reflect, which is important for your growth. She added tip number three, which is if you don’t have the answers, then someone else can help you.
This has to do with investing in yourself. It’s easy to buy $200 a bag or clothes at Target or wherever. Imagine if you invest that money in yourself. She says, “It’s going to cost you money but it’s the only way you are going to pay attention to the process and your growth. You are going to have to pay to play. If you invest in yourself, you are going to take yourself more seriously.” Those are three fantastic tips. If you have any suggestions on career development topics that you would like me to cover or talk about more, please email or DM me. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action. Until next time.
About Lisa Thompson
Lisa Thompson is the Founder and Director of Self Love Beauty, Confidence Coach, Podcast Host, Co-Founder of BluWave Wellbeing, and Author.
Her mission is to help individuals become unstuck, love themselves, and take personal action for self-improvement.