Building foundations

“Get ready to start swinging!” “OK,” I yelled back and raised the maul over my shoulder.


“A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last. The same principle applies to man.”

– Sai Baba, Indian guru, yogi and fakir

“Get ready to start swinging!”

“OK,” I yelled back and raised the maul over my shoulder.

I was helping my aunt and uncle pour the foundation for their new home — with the help of a few neighbours, of course. This was back before the time of giant concrete pumping units with their large booms.

Though we were able to pour much of the concrete into the forms directly from the chute on the cement truck, a great deal of it still had to be transported by wheelbarrows on wobbly planks.

We shoveled, tamped, banged and generally coerced that concrete into place over the course of one hot afternoon.

I swung the maul until my shoulders ached. Pounding the forms ensured the concrete dropped, flowed and settled evenly throughout.

For a house to be secure, safe and stable, it must be built upon a solid, level and well-considered foundation. Our lives are no different.

An important element of self-esteem building is self-awareness.

Your life, as it appears now, is the result of the foundation that supports it. If you’re not enjoying the life you want, then look at the foundation carefully. As an example, let’s say you’re feeling beaten down by life and in a state of depression.

You’ve bought into a victim mentality where everyone is against you and everything happens to you. Ask yourself what foundation (in this case, what thoughts and beliefs) you would need in place to support such a dismal, disempowering outlook.

Without a doubt, you would need a foundation comprised of themes such as being worthless, helpless, powerless, or out of control. If you look — as objectively as you can — at the current state of your life (if it’s not the life you’d prefer) you’ll find at play any number of disempowering ways of thinking and being.

The same structural relationship holds true for the individual with healthy self-esteem and a grounded sense of self.

What foundation must this individual have in place in order to sustain a positive state of being? The empowered individual, living a happy and successful life, must feel good enough, capable, strong, empowered and worthy — the architect of his or her own destiny.

By looking at our life and then seriously pondering what beliefs would be necessary to maintain the state of mind or being we now experience, we can gain some powerful insights into our thinking and likely discover that much of it is happening without our conscious awareness.

An empowered life is built upon the foundation of solid core values. Core values are traits or qualities that represent our highest priorities, deeply held beliefs and fundamental driving forces.

Core values are also called guiding principles because they form a solid core of who we believe we are or want to become moving forward. Core values will differ from person to person and are the result of culture, upbringing, personal experiences and interpretations.

Here are five (of many) character traits or core values that seem to define the empowered individual – five essential elements that form the foundation for a purposeful life.

The first is discipline: a willingness to persevere, to take the necessary steps that will move us in the direction of accomplishing our goals and honouring our ambitions. It is recognizing that it is our hard work and ours alone that will get us where we want to be in life.

The second is integrity: being true to our word and following through on our promises. Integrity could be summed up by saying that our words and our actions match. Integrity is being and staying the person we claim to be – maintaining an honest reflection of our true self.

The third is respect: seeing, accepting and honouring the importance of self and the value of others as a whole. Respect is measured by how we treat others and how we treat ourselves, and it is ensuring that we act in accordance to how we expect others to treat us in return.

The fourth is responsibility: taking full ownership of our actions, decisions and the consequences of such. It is being accountable for our choices – personally and those we make on behalf of people we represent. It is a willingness to step up – especially when it’s painful or uncomfortable to do so – and own our actions, reactions, words and treatment of others.

The fifth is faith: this can certainly be a spiritual faith and, even more so, a deep and abiding faith in our own ability and value as human beings. When we have faith in ourselves, we see our worth and we recognize that we are on a journey of evolution, becoming better people.

When we build our life upon a firm foundation and live our values every day, we can enjoy today and every day and go to bed each night with a clear conscience and no regrets.

After all the banging, shoveling and lifting had been finished we let the foundation cure for a few days. When we removed the forms, the basement was perfect: solid, true and strong.

Miyamoto Musashi, the Japanese swordsman and samurai, once declared, “Aspire to be like Mt. Fuji, with such a broad and solid foundation that the strongest earthquake cannot move you and so tall that the greatest enterprises of common men seem insignificant from your lofty perspective.

With your mind as high as Mt Fuji you can see all things clearly. And you can see all the forces that shape events; not just the things happening near to you.”

A solid foundation built upon strong core values assures a substantial and enjoyable life. Reflect upon your life today and investigate the foundation upon which you’re building it.

Murray M. Fuhrer — The Self-Esteem Guy