I grew up believing, as did so many in our generation, that you present your attributes to the world, get evaluated objectively, and based on that evaluation, get assigned the lifestyle that you have “earned.”
Instead, it is this wisdom that prevails: You do not present yourself to the world to be evaluated. You assign yourself a value and then present yourself to the world.
The first way, where you wait for the world to evaluate you, assumes that your judges have the ability to assess you, that they are objective, and that they have your best interests in mind. In reality, your judges are subjective people who have a sphere of life experience that may be vastly different from your own, are subjective and emotional, and have their own interests, problems, prejudices, and beliefs through which their perception of you is filtered.
Waiting for evaluation is what happens in school. If the subject is math, which isn’t subjective and can’t be contested, and you know your stuff, you’ll probably get an A. Tests may evaluate some knowledge, but it is well known today that they do not assess a person’s multiple intelligences accurately. Note that in English and social studies you have to utilize talents and attributes—if you’re lucky to already have them—to the tune of insight, maturity, cultural knowledge, inference, persuasion, written language ability, and the ability to read your teacher and understand the rubric, in addition to knowing the structure of an essay and the facts in the textbook, to get your good marks.
How do you explain all those who, at some point in their lives, had been written off, and yet today are well-known names—people respected for their abilities, insights, or inventions? Thomas Edison: assessed by the teacher in elementary school for being “addled,” when he was, in fact, partially deaf. He went on to open a series of companies and become the greatest inventor of the twentieth century. Who else? Lucille Ball: “too shy.” The Beatles: “their guitar music is on the way out.” Michael Jordan: “cut from the school’s basketball team.” Walt Disney: “no original ideas.”
In this motivational video, who is the real problem? The person? Or the judge(s)?
Thus, the whole rationale many of us have lived by is backwards.
Why does the reverse work?
One thing I’ve noticed to be absolutely ubiquitous—whether in the playground or throughout incidences in history—is that people always respond to confidence. Confidence translates as knowledge and ability, which translates as desirable leadership and good decision-making.
History and the schoolyard have, however, often shown us that this is not always true. Confident people do not always have the best answers and frequently muddle things up worse than the non-confident, too shy to speak up but more knowledgeable people. Yet confident people who are good leaders continue to draw willing followers because they are convincing. Since people insist on responding in this way, we can work with it.
If you track successful people, whether they became successful right away at a young age or have taken a lifetime to figure it out, they all have something in common that they’ve applied and that works. They evaluate themselves first, which makes them confident, gives them purpose, and makes them feel that they have something to offer the world (which they do). Because they have made their evaluation first, they do not indiscriminately accept everyone else’s judgement along the way, are not as easily discouraged or sidetracked, and thus are not shaken from their cause—or their course—which is to make a living on their own terms. This living is simply an exchange of goods and/or services: they offer something to others that is considered valuable, and others reward them in a way that gives them a satisfying lifestyle.
The more they believe in themselves and persevere, the more others believe in them. When others believe in them, they find their income niche, creating that satisfying lifestyle—on their terms—doing things they want to do that simultaneously allow them to make a living and thrive. They have convinced others of their value, and hence others have valued (and paid) them.
Thus, the more you believe you can—the more you know you can—the more others believe you can, until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that is why you have to assign yourself a value first and then present yourself to the world.
© 2012 Eva Blaskovic. All rights reserved.