This is about self-esteem

by Dmitry Kirsanov 19. November 2011 13:37

“People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and you see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk!” (Ayn Rand)

Imagine being approached by a wide array of individuals from different walks of life, all frequently asking you the same question: "What is the most valuable quality one needs to excel in [name the profession]?" Regardless of the profession you substitute there, this question seems to reflect a universal quest for the elusive key to success. Over time, I have delved deep into various facets of this topic, discussing how to broaden one's knowledge, boost creativity and many elements that pave the path to professional excellence. However, one area that I believe wasn't profoundly addressed, and indeed requires our attention, is our intrinsic quality of self-esteem.

Self-esteem transcends the boundaries of psychological tricks, checklists, or training programs. It is a defining human characteristic but, unlike most others, it can be cultivated, nurtured, and allowed to flourish. To do justice to this crucial yet complex subject in a single blog post would be quite the challenge. Nonetheless, I'll angle for conciseness and thoroughness alike in our exploration of self-esteem.

Embarking on this exploration requires a radical shift in perspective: realizing that the world as we know it is a construct of our perception. Clinical psychology provides us with this startling insight, showing us that our individual realities are just models of the world built upon experiences gathered from birth. Our understanding of the world is shaped over time, defining our preferences and the framework within which we operate.

During our formative years, our limited understanding often gives rise to imaginative theories about how things work, with every object around us being a mysterious black box. Only with time and guidance do we begin to truly grasp the intricate workings of the world. Yet, as we mature, some among us become entrenched in their worldviews, viewing their personal theories not as flexible, evolving understandings but as incontrovertible fact. This rigidness can foster the dangerous mentality that the Earth is the center of the universe, or worse.

People who inhabit such a world of cognitive constants are often resistant to alternative perspectives since these clash violently with their internal models. They see probing questions not as vehicles of growth, but as threats to their established values. Hence, they prefer spoon-fed answers rather than seeking out knowledge themselves. They shy away from wrestling with problems and understanding underlying issues, preferring instead that others solve their problems for them.

However, progress demands thought. Real power lies in understanding what you are doing. Which brings us to the ultimate question: What is the most valuable profession trait? I believe, as hinted at in the title, it's self-esteem.

Honor, a visible manifestation of self-esteem, begets the ability and ambition to take ownership of problems. When we lean on others for answers we should pursue ourselves, our credibility can take a hit. We reveal ourselves as passive, uninterested intellectuals, out of touch with our personal growth and out of sync with the opportunities that further advancement.

In my experience, catering to those who opt for the path of least resistance can be disheartening. It's not that I don't want to help, but encouraging a mindset that shuts down critical thinking is self-defeating. I believe that truth is for those ready to seek and embrace it. So, when a certified SQL Server Administrator gets stuck at the SQL Server setup screen and asks me how to proceed, I gently remind them that they possess the knowledge and the credentials necessary to navigate the situation.

The bottom line echoes a simple yet profound insight: the fewer answers you seek from others, the more knowledge you gain. Forge your path to truth, cultivate your analytical skills, and structure knowledge according to a method unique to you. To those unwilling to undertake this journey, keep in mind that complacency has little room for complaint.

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