If you want to be happy for the rest of your life: What Dirty Harry has to say about it.

When I was headmaster of a private school, back in the earlier days of my career, I used to engage in the fruitless task of semi-annual performance appraisals. (I have long since abandoned this management task). I would list four levels of development and competence which I had made into a chart. The lowest level was that of someone who was something like and indentured servant, they would work but only if you found them hiding somewhere, structured each and every process and procedure, then stand over them to make sure they didn’t wander off. The highest level is that of someone who so thoroughly understands what the objectives are, what the standards of performance and quality are, what needs to be done, why it needs doing, and where your priorities are, you don’t even need to suggest something be done, they have done it and done it well already. The two spots in between reflected varying degrees of ability, insight, and maturity.

I would review the tasks of the person’s particular position and ask them to rate themselves on my chart. Without exception, 100% of the time, each and every person rated themself right at the very top. FYI, none of them were actually performing that well. Not one! But they all had a vivid and vibrant self-opinion.

We have been through a devastating period in education which has placed priority on self-esteem. We have done a great job in  assuring students that they are indeed special people. That they can barely read and can hardly handle even basic math is irrelevant. They feel very good about themselves. This has become part of political correctness and the perverted impostion of equality standards.

And, worse, it has affected our thinking to the point of delusion. Now, I am not advocating a stern Calvinistic approach either. We are not all worms. The truth lies in, well, the truth…, in possessing an accurate self-assessment.

Why? Because delusion is not happiness, it’s crazy. Having and fostering an exalted, but unrealistic self-opinion is insanity, not happiness. True happiness is knowing very well what you are, what you can do, and what you cannot do.

Inspector Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry) had something worthwhile to say about this in Magnum Force. He said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Knowing, and accepting who you are and who you are not is a tremendously liberating insight. It enables you to focus. I do not have to spend any precious time on pursuiong a singing career for one very important insight. I cannot sing. But there are things I do and do very well.

What about you? Usually we can identify things we do well because we like to do them. No one has to make us get up and do it. It’s called motivation and is almost entirely internal. External motivation has little effect unless it is coercion.

What do you like to do? What do others recognize you for? Good, bad, or either, others can usually see what you are good at better and sooner than you can.

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, to thine own self be true. You cannot be faithful to who you are unless you accept the truth about what you are.

You need to have an accurate self-assessment.

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