Posts Tagged self concept

Self creation or self discovery?

Pushing Buttons by Luke Dorny

Who put that there?

What metaphor do you use to describe the development of your sense of identity or self knowledge?

Do you think about increasing self awareness as an act of self discovery? As you find out new things about yourself, are you just uncovering what is already there? Are you seeking to reveal more about your ‘true self’ so that you can make choices that are more consistent and authentic? Is your core self something that is determined by your past and mainly fixed?

Alternatively, do you think about increasing self awareness as a process of defining who you are and making choices about who you want to be? Are you involved in an on-going process of self creation, shaping your identity through your choices and experiences? Is your core self something malleable and open to infinite change?

The metaphor you are most drawn to (discovery or creation) can affect your sense of meaning, your well being, your ability to set personal goals and your response to failure.

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The alternative self

203/365 by Brandi Eszlinger

She doesn’t look a bit like Gwyneth Paltrow

A few years ago I went to see Our House the musical based on the songs of Madness. The music was good. The choreography was good too. But what I really liked was the story, which was quite imaginative for a jukebox musical.

It tells the story of Joe Casey, who does something stupid to impress a girl and then faces a choice: stay and risk getting arrested or run away. At this point the the storyline splits in two, following the consequences of these options and the different versions of Joe that emerge as a result.

The idea of exploring alternative versions of ourselves and finding out what we could have become if we had made different choices is very appealing in fiction. Sliding Doors, It’s a Wonderful Life, Melinda and Melinda and many others.

I recently came across a paper which nicely mashes up two of my favourite themes: counterfactual thinking and identity development into the concept of alternative selves. It explores the impact of these alternative selves on our sense of identity.

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The complexity of self-esteem

Amarse a uno mismo / selfloving by Ana Vigueras

How'm I looking? Lookin' good!

Self-esteem can play an important part in career success. This has been on my mind quite a bit in recent weeks. I have been doing a lot of work with people involved in organisational restructuring. Even when they are not facing redundancy, they are often having to deal with the prospect of applying for roles within a new structure or working under radically different conditions. When someone decides that all or part of what you have spent the last few years working at is not worth doing, it can severely dent your feelings of validity.

I have also been teaching on an introductory management course, where the issue of self-esteem came up in relation to staff motivation and performance management.

It is traditional to focus on the dangers of low self-esteem, which is usually linked to under-performance, lack of initiative, social withdrawal, fear of change, even depression and self-harm. Consequently, much of the advice around is about how to raise your self-esteem.

But there are dangers in too much self-esteem.

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A matter of perspective

MIstakes Were Made (but not my me)

Can you justify yourself if you don't read this?

Over on Careers Debate we are having an interesting discussion about narrative approaches to career coaching/counselling.

Coincidentally, I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book which looks at how we reconstruct our memories and perceptions in order to keep them consistent with our self image.

In Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson explore the various ways in which we delude ourselves in order to maintain a favoured self-perception. They discuss how this desire to avoid cognitive dissonance leads to extremes of self-justification in all areas of life. They provide examples from the realms of politics (obviously!), international relations, law enforcement, psychology, alien abductions, scientific research and marriage guidance.

It is an interesting book, if somewhat depressing. Personally, I think it should be compulsory reading for any politician or business leader. There is enough thought-provoking material in here to sustain several heated discussions. However, one particular set of research studies caught my attention because of their potential link to narrative work with individuals.

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Intentional change

beforeafter by My brain hurts! (Meik Weissert)

I wonder if that’s how he pictured his ideal self…

How does change happen?

What motivates change?

What makes a change sustainable?

Richard Boyatzis, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University, has the answers… or maybe an answer: Intentional Change Theory.

Professor Boyatzis has earned a mention on this blog previously for a natty little theory he developed with David Kolb (of learning styles fame)  about the various modes of performance, learning and development one goes through repeatedly in one’s career. He is also a researcher, writer and speaker on the subject of emotional intelligence.

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Employability: concepts and components

Will work for food

Flexibility - a key component of employability?

I am preparing material for an employability module, and I’ve been getting myself into it by exploring different definitions and concepts of employability.

What is employability?

Coming at that question from a careers adviser’s perspective, I tend, by default, to think about employability in terms of the awareness and attributes of the individual job seeker. So into my head come the career management skills of the classic DOTS model (although, why it’s called DOTS and not SODT escapes me).

  • Self awareness
  • Option awareness
  • Decision learning
  • Transition learning

However, that’s not the only way of looking at employability. I thought it might be useful to share some of the perspectives on this subject that I have found most interesting. This is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review on the subject of employability, just an idiosyncratic collection of things that have caught my attention.

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Identity crisis

My Identity

Finding your identity

One of the most influential thinkers in the field of developmental psychology was Erik Erikson. Originally a pupil of Freud, he made a name for himself with his work on the development of human social identity.

I read about Erikson’s theories when studying for my professional qualification, but most emphasis on developmental theory in careers is dominated by the work of Donald Super. However, Erikson’s ideas of identity formation in adolescence has provided the basis for much thought and exploration around the transition from childhood to adulthood.

A couple of recent posts (Playing a role and Non-stop action) have jogged my memory about this, so I thought I would blog briefly about this classic theory and some recent developments related to it.

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Does self awareness make for quicker decisions?

EEG

How easy is it to make decisions wearing one of these?

In a rather cute bit of research by Takashi Nakao at Nagoya University, Japan (and a whole host of researchers at Hiroshima University), students were prompted with random pairings of job titles and asked to choose which occupation they thought they could do better. The researchers then used EEG to measure the students’ brain activity in certain areas that are associated with conflict in relation to decisions.

In the first study they demonstrated that the amount of activity recorded was related to the difficulty of choosing between the options. There was more activity (more conflict) as well as a slower reaction time when students were choosing between two options that they found equally attractive.

Nakao, T., Mitsumoto, M., Nashiwa, H., Takamura, M., Tokunaga, S., Miyatani, M., Ohira, H., Katayama, K., Okamoto, A., & Watanabe, Y. (2010). Self-Knowledge Reduces Conflict by Biasing One of Plural Possible Answers Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 (4), 455-469 DOI: 10.1177/0146167210363403

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Will you read this post? Think about it…

Will he or won't he?

Will he or won't he?

What do you think would motivate people more — getting them to focus on what they are about to do or asking them to think about whether they will do it or not?

When a group of students were given one or the other of these contemplative tasks before facing an anagrams exercise, the ones who had asked themselves whether they would do it completed more anagrams than the group who were just thinking about doing it.

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Anchors aweigh!

No, it’s not International Talk Like a Pirate Day (that’s Sept 19th for any of you that are interested) but recently I’ve been asked to be a participant in a study based around career anchors.  A PhD student from New Zealand is looking into how Schein’s Career Anchor model (1975), may now be expanded and updated.

Edgar Schein‘s model proposed that everyone has a different set of values and qualities which they employ with regards to their work life.  These values make up their career anchors. A better understanding of one’s motivations (or limits) will lead to a clearer self concept and this will facilitate better career choices.

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