I used to believe that my achievements were proof that I was worthy – proof that I was enough.

For many, many years I was fuelled by an unrelenting urge to prove myself. Always striving, never feeling content, never feeling like I had ‘made it’. Always doing, doing, doing – and yet never feeling like I was doing enough . I can see now that this was because I did not believe that I was enough.

It felt like I was on a roller-coaster ride that was getting faster and faster. Like I was being propelled by an invisible force that was beyond my control. I wanted to get off that roller-coaster ride. I wanted to make it stop. I knew deep down that the ride was making me sick. The problem was that I no idea how.

Low self-worth can indeed be a powerful force. It can propel us to great heights. However, over the long-term, this power source is incompatible with thriving.

For many, low self-worth is the shadow-side of high performance. It first became clear to me that I was not alone in my secret struggle during a residential women’s leadership program I participated in many years ago, facilitated by Leadership Victoria.

During the retreat, I spent several days with a group of highly accomplished senior female leaders. As trust grew, many of the participants began sharing that they also secretly wrestled with omnipresent feelings of low self-worth. Their inability to make sense of these feelings alongside their drive to keep performing in their senior, high-profile positions further amplified their secret suffering.

The story of one of the other program participants – Debra – whose job put her in charge of an emergency department at a large hospital will always stay with me. Debra was literally saving lives every single day, yet she revealed, choking back tears, that she felt like she had absolutely no value in the world.

Witnessing this ‘confession’ was a turning point for me. I suddenly realised that if a woman who was saving lives every day still did not believe she was enough, there is no way I could ever achieve my way to worthiness. I remember thinking “oh sh#t!.”

I had to find another way.

This realisation was exactly what I needed to get myself off the roller-coaster ride and on the path to building self-worth. I called off the futile (and exhausting) search for proof of worthiness in the outside world and began the work of cultivating a deep belief in my worthiness from the inside-out.

Remembering our worthiness is an ongoing practice. Learning to accept all of ourselves supports us to think we are worthy, and to feel worthy. We feel worthy when we remember our enough-ness.

As we de-couple our sense self-worth from false external measures such as our status, achievements, credentials and material possessions – we begin to appreciate and amplify our uniqueness essence.

Once we begin to understand our own essence, can we begin to peel back the hardened external layers of ourselves. And as we shed these layers, we can unfurl into the fullness of our potential.

Self-fidelity Practice to Play With

You were born enough and today, you remain enough.  We all need a little help to peel back our outer layers so we can reconnect with our enough-ness.

The self-fidelity practice I invite you to play with this week is to ask yourself the following questions, get quiet and listen deeply to sense a response:

What new possibilities might emerge for me if I felt worthy more often?

How might being connected with my inherent worthiness uplift my working life?

If, in my own mind, my enough-ness was off the table, what would that mean for me and those I care about?


Contrary to popular thinking, worthiness is not something you earn, it’s something you recognise.

Mark Dooley