Baking A Layered Cake: Building Your Self Esteem

Written by Craig Christian, Director of People Plus Africa and Get Ready Start

The Definitions of Self-Esteem:

  • A feeling of being happy with your own character and abilities (Old oxford dictionary).

  • A belief and confidence in your own ability and value (Cambridge dictionary).


I am currently participating in the People Plus online Zoom Assertive Communication training workshops in which we unpacked the meaning of self-esteem. David Asavanond, the principle opened the discussion by suggesting that a positive self-esteem could be built by focusing on one’s achievements. David also suggested two contributing sources to self-esteem:

  1. The first was, building self-esteem by gravitating to material outer-orientated valued things, and worrying about how people perceive you through the value of these things.

  2. The second focus is on positively building one’s inner-self through introspection. He suggested a link to the overcoming of one’s challenges, especially those that brought great uncertainty or even pain as great sources of reference for building positive self-esteem.

All of the participants tended to agree with Dave on the latter as the most valuable contributor towards building positive self-esteemed. Ironically this blog provides me with such an opportunity by reflecting on my own challenges with the use of an analogy of baking a layered cake.

So how do you make a delicious cake that is enjoyed by yourself and others? Well, you have to have a recipe and correct ingredients. However, the ingredients need to be grown and processed from a source. The correct mixture and baking temperature results in a delicious cake.

One personal life challenge I’d like to share that negatively impacted my self-esteem is my Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder ADHD: The Facts ( From a very early age, this really affected my ability to focus resulting in concentration fatigue and poor academic examination grades. Continuous negative commentary made by teachers and later on in the corporate work environment assisted in me developing negative self-esteem. This then led to depression.

However, it was only when I had set a different path for myself through the achievement of my Master in Business Administration (MBA), acknowledging my strengths through introspection and reflection, seeking people who provided positive help, visualising positive affirmations based on achievements and filtering out most of the negative clutter that I was able to start building a positive self-esteem.

So, what is the reference to baking a cake analogy you may ask?

Nurturing and growing the ingredients, good and bad, relates to my upbringing and schooling. You may refer to this as the wonder years (The Wonder Years - Wikipedia).

When you bake a cake, it all depends on the ingredients that you put in, to make it delicious. Like the cake, we all build layers of experiences throughout our lives as we mature.

Another stage of my life was having some idea of what I wanted to do in life. Developing an idea or a plan, a recipe you could say. These were my student and explorative internship years.

I then began to build on the layers of experiences, skills, knowledge and people network by changing and exploring different careers paths within the cooperate world.

I now find myself outside the corporate world as an entrepreneur facilitating the development skills and providing business consulting that focuses on improving corporate culture issues. The exciting part and scariest part are the uncertainties and the unknowns. Especially, in the Context of the Covid-19 pandemic that has negatively affected me, even yourself in some way.

There are however positive experiences and learnings that I can draw your attention to. These are a few practices that have assisted me in making my layered cake recipe during the Covid-19 lockdown.

  • I did the things that made me happy. I discovered that I do not have to chase money all the time. The more I chased, the more it seemed to be out of reach. It made me depressed.

  • I explored a different talent, carpentry. I built a wooden book and storage cabinet with all its imperfections. In the process, I learnt a lot about cabinet making and: “it is my cabinet and I was proud to finish it”. It now stands in our kitchen for the family to enjoy.

  • I networked extensively especially through my Old School (Bishops) Boy Network and linked with interesting people in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Dubai, UK etc. This is also how I met Robert Bluett in Bangkok, who introduced me to an awesome bunch of people within his organisation, "People Plus" (Personal Development | People Plus Co., Ltd. | Bangkok Thailand.). We are now embarking on a journey to collaborate and expand on our unique skills that would in future provide training and consulting services on an international scale. “What a positive impact networking has made on my life!”

All the above will add to the flavour, spices and decorations of my cake as I continue to develop a positive self-esteem. I know that once we as People Plus have added our unique talents to our recipes, we will bake cakes that are enjoyed and desired by many others. This is when we will monetise and receive the rewards and benefits that we are working towards.

If you have not done so, I urge you to start developing your own unique layered cake recipes, as I myself will continue doing.

I leave you with a quote from Gordon Ramsey: " Kitchens are hard environments and they form incredibly strong characters."

Please stay safe wear a mask.

Craig Christian



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