Confidence: Which Empire Are You Building?

I recently heard someone say “I’m rebuilding my empire.” What I surmised is that this person is working diligently to reestablish a physical empire once enjoyed. But is that the empire we should be striving to build?

Physical empire

I don’t want to dismiss others’ dreams as folly. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to build an empire. Unfortunately, the pursuit of this desire often leads the person to forget that it’s their service to others that enabled them to build the empire. In the process their focus shifts from other centric to egocentric behaviors, which in turn leads to the empire’s decline.

Empire within

Conversely, when the empire we desire to build is the one within us…one designed to increase our ability to serve others, we enjoy tremendous personal growth, an empire which may or may not include the trappings of a physical empire. But one that provides joy, peace and a sense of fulfillment.

Both empires possible

The “sharks” on Shark Tank are examples that it is possible to build both internal and physical empires…as long as the primary goal is the service to others. Watch the program and you’ll often hear the sharks say “You’re doing all the right things. There’s nothing we can do to help you.” Or “I’m not the right person to help you.” Even when the sharks choose not to invest in a company, they offer useful advice to help the person achieve their goal.

Contrast their behavior with the behavior of those involved in the recent school admissions scandal. The actions of those involved don’t indicate any concern for the welfare of others. Indeed, their actions often deprived deserving people of an opportunity they should have enjoyed.

Those involved in this scandal, especially those that previously enjoyed enormous personal and financial success, are seeing their physical empires disintegrate, a natural result of the loss of the empire within them.

For you

Focus your attention on your personal growth, on our ability and desire to enrich others’ lives, and you’ll enjoy the riches of a life well-lived. You’ll enjoy an empire you built within you that brings you immeasurable joy, peace, love and friendship.

You may even enjoy greater than usual financial rewards that are evidenced by a physical “empire.” That too can be yours if, like the sharks, your primary goal is to enrich others’ lives.

For our kids

If you want the kids in your life to learn this lesson, live it! The more frequently they see you putting others’ welfare ahead of your personal gain and the joy and peace these actions bring you, the more likely they’ll be to mimic your behavior.

When they express a need for physical trappings as evidence their worth, use examples like the sharks and those involved in the admissions scandal to illustrate the point that a physical empire can only be sustained if the empire within is strong and other centric.

You can do no greater service for your kids than to help them understand that it’s the empire within that brings them confidence, joy, peace and a sense of self worth.

If you’d like to develop the skills to teach confidence as part of your role as an educator, coach, consultant, trainer, leader or other professional, check out my professional development and certification programs at

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