Each and every day, you give away your personal power in more ways than you realize. You undermine yourself with destructive behaviors or behaviors that simply make you look insecure.

But the most all-encompassing way you give away your power, because it insatiably devours so many wonderful souls and because it shapes your worldview, is when you strive for approval versus authenticity.

Stop focusing on gaining the approval of others and start improving who you are

When you seek approval, you’re seeking external validation, which is an empty victory at best and elusive and confidence and soul crushing at worst. When you seek approval, you worry about what the universe wants and thinks, especially if you’re a people pleaser (which is something I still have to work on to this day).

But when you seek authenticity, you don’t worry about the universe; you worry about the Youniverse — and I don’t mean this in a selfish way.

I mean you focus first and foremost on the North Star in your galaxy — living in accordance with your values and authentic identity and living up to your own standards, not someone else’s.

When you focus on the Youniverse, you focus on getting better than you were yesterday, not better than someone else, and you strive to serve the broader universe with your unique talents.

Now, if you struggle a bit with seeking approval too much, I can help. I want to share with you a simple rule, two numbers really, that can change your life. Two numbers you can, as a reminder, write on a sticky note and keep at your desk, or write on a whiteboard in your office, or even tattoo on the back of your hand, like one of my coaching clients did.

They are the numbers 90 and 10.

This stands for a ratio of 90 to 10 — or the 90:10 Rule. This is the simple formula for how you should calculate your worth, which is to say it should be based on 90 percent self-worth, 10 percent assigned worth.

How you feel about yourself should flow dominantly (90 percent) from your own self-acceptance and self-appreciation and only 10 percent from external approval or assigned worth.

Purists might not agree with allotting 10 percent for external validation, saying, “What you think of yourself is all that matters!” But I’m a realist. Becoming completely callous to the occasional signal that you’re valued and loved is unrealistic.

That said, we get into trouble when that 10 percent starts creeping up.

We get into trouble when we focus more on winning love than giving love.

So treat that 10 percent for what it is, just a bit of external validation every now and then, and get back to focusing on the other 90 percent.

Two numbers. One ratio. One rule.

Originally published at www.inc.com