A guest blogger today!

“Settle down, Noah. You’re holding the mic. Let’s get some coherence here.”

Hello everyone! My coffee is piping hot and my mind is full of thoughts after watching an inflammatory debate—so pull up a chair and help me think through something I’ve been pondering for over a year now. Also, today is feeling nautical, so a boat theme is in store. Arr.

The thought is now familiar as an old friend: “Finding an easy way to boost self-esteem would change the world.” Think about it with me for a moment: most people have less-than-perfect self-esteem, myself included. If people were more comfortable in their own worth, what would fall away? Emotionally threatened arguments, lack of ambition in work, communication breakdowns in relationships, family struggles, driven actions of celebrities and world leaders that shape our culture . . . the list is extensive, right?

Sam Gosling made an interesting point in his book Snoop which formed the foundation for this theory: You cannot change self-esteem directly. It’s a ship that’s too far away from the harbor, and attempts to move it are just that: attempts. Quandary: How then do we improve self-esteem if we cannot directly interact with it? Answer: Identity.

Identity defined as the parts of our lives that we associate with; something we would consider correcting if described inaccurately about us. “Actually, I’m a graphic designer, not a blogger.” Photographer, geek, car enthusiast, entrepreneur, man, human. These are things we can easily and directly control. We can learn new things and build new identities and release them as needed. What if identities are little tugboats that putter out and get us moving in the right direction?

And so I’ve been watching to see if this fits. So far, I like the results and how clear the progression is. It seems to go like this:

Poor esteem: The tugs are small and specific and numerous. I think back to being a teenager and being a drummer was an identity with specificity to the level of certain brands. People who liked Pearl were morons.

Alright esteem: More open water, and the little specific tugs will now have trouble with the waves so they start to hand the ropes over to the bigger broader tugs. I am starting to bring on much broader identities, such as being good, patient, or grumpy. (What can I say? I’m a work in progress)

Excellent esteem: The tug releases and drifts away. Eventually I hope to release all identities and know that I simply am.

This observation makes me think that I want to keep striving for broader identities and, this part is quite important I think, to keep releasing the small ones. We MUST release to keep moving.

If we could see this bigger picture of our ship and little tugboats, it simply doesn’t matter if someone insults/attacks a tug. It’s merely a helper in your growth, but it isn’t you. How many tug wars do we fight, and are they in fact meaningless?

What do you think?

Written by Noah Urban