February 21, 2018

Is your self-image pulling you forward or holding you back?

Woman reflectingWe have a choice…

We can ether see ourselves as a little bit less than we really are.

Or we can see ourselves as just a little bit more than we really are.

The first of these is the more usual choice. We probably believe it to be more socially acceptable.

The trouble is…

That way of looking at ourselves holds us back. As we act in accordance with our pessimistic self-image, we underachieve compared with what other people believe us capable of. We play small. And then other people have no reason to revise their opinion, except perhaps downwards.

Alternatively, when we find the courage to take an optimistic view of ourselves (within reason—I don’t mean be ridiculously over-confident or arrogant), we gradually lift other people’s perception of us as we play a better game. We go up in their estimation. And so we can achieve more because we have more influence.

In the second case, our self-image pulls us forward.

The separation between these two paths may not be much at all. One makes us grow, and perhaps quickly; the other not so much.

Which are you choosing?

Fairness—does that mean equality or proportionality?

Traditional weighing scalesIn relationships of whatever kind, there’s potential for getting in a muddle over this: By “fair,” do we mean “equal” or do we mean “in proportion?”

This is a key distinction in moral psychology developed in Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind”—one that evolved over the course of the work he describes and, by implication, not perhaps so obvious.

Many of us may expect individual rewards to be in proportion to efforts put in or perhaps outcomes achieved, rather than equal shares for everyone, irrespective of contribution (assuming equal opportunity). But not everyone sees it like that necessarily.

Which of these is “right” isn’t central here…

The point is simply remembering “fairness” means different things to different people and our response to whatever we perceive as fair (or lacking fairness) is rather deep-seated, partly innate and unconscious, and so it’s powerful. It has the potential to drive unexpected division.

What do you mean by “fair” when you use the word?

And do the people around you mean that too?

Could be worth clarifying.