Self-esteem without competence is a recipe for failure
For the longest time, in the United States and elsewhere, educational policymakers bought into the idea of self-esteem.
Please understand that self-esteem is a good thing. Nobody’s disputing that. However, according to this educational policy philosophy, for students to perform well in life, they need to have their self-esteem built up and encouraged early on.
Again, just like the observation that self-esteem is a good thing, this seems pretty good on the surface, what’s there to argue about. The problem is if you are going to be building your self-esteem based on affirmations and being made to feel good about who you are without any accomplishments or tangible results produced by your efforts to back it up.
You are building your house on sand. This is what happened with generations of youth fed on the steady diet of self-esteem stimulation. That’s what it is. You just stimulated the formation of self-esteem, not through actual achievements, accomplishments, sacrifice, hard work, and other traditional indicators of success.
Instead, people got self-esteem by being respected for showing up. That’s it. That’s all you need to do. You just need to show up, and you get a prize for participation. According to this school of thought, your feelings are paramount.
If only things worked that way. Sadly, a lot of people who base their self-esteem on the fact that they happened to show up know deep down inside that their confidence is hollow. They understand that this is not the way real life works. They know that the world may have some rude surprises waiting for them. No wonder, many people with supreme self-esteem are very frustrated and confused.
As long as you’re feeling okay about yourself, then there’s really not much difference between what you think and what everybody else thinks. You are entitled to your estimation of yourself, the rightness of your action, so on and so forth.
What this created is self-esteem that produced a very hollow self-confidence. People definitely can feel that they can do stuff, but they can only do it in theory. When they’re actually given challenges to produce and deliver results, most people, who focus primarily on self-esteem without the matching competence, fall apart like a house of cards.
Self-esteem without competence is a recipe for failure. If you’re having a tough time in any area of your life or you feel you’re frustrated or stuck in any area of your life, maybe it’s because of this. Sure, you feel good about yourself, and it seems like you have a high estimate of your ability to get things done.
Unfortunately, unless and until that high estimation is based on actual experience and results, you’re just wasting your time. It’s probably going to be very hard for you to overcome challenges. It’s probably very tempting for you to just quit the moment you’re confronted with actual difficulty.
Every challenge is doable if you chop it down to size
It’s effortless to get so worried about the challenge facing you that you just freeze up and quit. It’s straightforward to get discouraged. It’s effortless to feel that your problem is so big and so scary that there’s really no way you can get out from under it.
You might as well just give up. You might as well lose all hope. If any of these enter your frame of mind, you are only just taking the path of least resistance. You’re looking at the situation from the perspective of somebody who wants to do the least work.
If you are serious about coming out on top and achieving unstoppable victory, every challenge does not have to be scary. Every problem does not have to have the potential of crushing you and stealing your dreams.
Instead, if you have the right mindset, every challenge is actually going to be an opportunity. Think about it. If you are faced with a problem that really pushes you back against the wall and incentivizes you to step up your problem-solving skills, what do you think will happen?
That’s right. Your natural imagination, resourcefulness, and creativity are triggered. You figure out away. If you can’t get through the front door, you will try the roof. If the roof doesn’t work, you try the basement. If the basement is blocked off for whatever reason, you will try the side door. If that doesn’t work, then you will try the back door.
If today is not an option, then you will try tomorrow. If that is off-limits, later you will try the next day. In other words, you challenge yourself to become a more competent person all around by tackling every challenge you come across.
One of the most potent revelations you could ever realize is that every challenge is doable if you chop it down to size. Every problem actually has many different moving parts. If you pick these apart and you attack one piece at a time in many different sequences, chances are you will achieve a breakthrough.
If anything, you become a different person as you go through this problem-solving process. This is what a lot of people miss out on. They’re always looking for the short cut or, worse yet, they’re waiting for somebody to pull them out of their situation because they have entirely given up on coming up with a solution of their own.
Achieve more by refusing to view challenges in emotional terms
I once had a friend who was having a tough time in graduate school. He was given a problem set that was so difficult for him that he thought the professor had it in for him. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and are thinking that this is a ridiculous thing that you have read.
You are well within your rights to think that because there’s a lot of truth to what you’re thinking. You and I live in a world that we did not create. You and I live in a world that operates on rules that we did not have a voice in. We live in a world that works on a take it or leaves it basis.
The world is rough. It’s unfair. It seems like a lot of the wrong people are getting ahead in life, while good people have all sorts of bad things happen to them. But this is the only world we live in. We can’t change the terms.
What we can change is how we respond to it. This is the only thing we have control over. If we were to take ownership of this control, we would be able to affect better changes in the world. We just need to step up and accept that even though the world may be spiraling out of our control, if we choose to respond the right ways, we may end up in an optimal place. This is a much better approach than continually finding ourselves crying over spilled milk.
One of the best ways to come out winners in this world is to stop fantasizing about how it should be. Instead, focus on how it actually works. Once we get a clear understanding of how the world really works, then the next step is to figure out how we can make this truly work for us instead of against us.
This is why it’s always a good idea to refuse to view challenges in emotional terms. The friend of mine that I told you about was having such a tough time because he was seeing everything in psychological terms. His professor probably didn’t even know him. But there he was, thinking that the professor crafted this very devious test to humiliate somehow, embarrass and deny him the success that an excellent graduate diploma usually brings to the table.
In other words, he was looking at his challenges in purely emotional terms. He was taking personal ownership of these challenges and letting the process crush him from within.
You don’t have to do that. Refuse to view challenges in emotional terms. Instead, look at problems for what they indeed are. I know this is going to shock a lot of people, but challenges are actually blessings. They push you to be more resourceful, creative, and imaginative. At the very least, they force you to change how you usually think about things so you can position yourself to become a more consistent winner and victor in life.
Each baby step forward you take is still a step forward
Let’s get one thing clear; we have been conditioned by society and technology to expect significant results in as little time as possible.
Anything from 15-minute pizza delivery guarantees to 2-day prime Amazon deliveries to instant online downloads, we want the biggest and best things in life in minutes. In fact, some of us have become so impatient that we expect the very best things life has to offer delivered yesterday. I am talking about setting ourselves up for a letdown.
There are many challenges in your life that will take quite a bit of effort, attention, and energy. You may be going through school. You may be trying to earn a degree. You may be trying to get your dream job. You may be trying to convince your boss to give you a well-deserved raise or promotion.
Whatever form the challenge takes, please understand that it’s something you have to work on. It’s something that often takes a long time. This is what trips many people up.
We live in a world that is increasingly impatient. As recently as ten years ago, it was perfectly acceptable for pizza shops to deliver pizza in 30 minutes or else it’s 100% free. Do you think that’s still the case in most metropolitan areas in the United States? Absolutely not.
Today, we have reached a point where if your pizza guy does not deliver your pie within 15 minutes, you expect a refund because you want that pie to be absolutely free. That’s how impatient we have become.
This is why the concept of some sort of long journey towards expertise, credibility, and authority is very irritating to a lot of people. Nine times out of 10, people would rather dispense with the process of paying their dues.
You have to understand that you can’t become some sort of overnight expert. You can read all the books in the world regarding a particular subject, but you’re not going to be an expert in that subject until you actually carry out that information.
For example, if you are a lawyer and you spent a lot of time in law school reading everything you know about personal injury, all the theory in the world, regardless of how many bits and pieces of information you have managed to memorize, are not going to help you when it comes to deposing the other side, talking to a massive number of claims adjusters and eventually taking your case to trial.
There’s a big divide or disconnect between theory and practice. This is why it’s always a good idea to not assume that just because you learned certain things that it will automatically or magically transform you. Focus instead on each baby step forward you take. Each step is a victory.
It may seem small, and it may seem irritatingly long, but you shouldn’t be impatient. Each baby steps forward you take still a step ahead. Click here to figure out how to develop real unstoppable confidence from this information.