Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Being Competent and Confident

"If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." - Confucius

Of those who leave comments on my site one noticed I don't really write about competence, and how important it is.

Men do want to be competent. Competent, confident (which I'll repeat is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues), protectors/providers (which is being thrown in our faces), fixers, creators. competitors.

All of things require competence. And you get confidence by practice, by learning how to do it the right way (that, too, is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues - Prudence, which is choosing the right path out of many).

Confidence/competence is about reducing/eliminating fear/anxiety in your life, and gaining as much well-being as possible.

It's also about justice (another Cardinal Virtue, to give each its due), which applies not only to people to things, as in "We have to do justice to this thing," as in taking a junk '66 Mustang and making it cherry.

Then you have to have self-control, or discipline, which means not being too quick and impulsive.

I had a older 1980s Chevy Caprice and occasionally it would break down unexpectedly. It was, however, just about the easiest car ever to work on. I used to carry starters, alternators and belts in my trunk. I have changed all of those things on the side of the road.

I was confident enough, and competent enough, to go on long trips in rural areas. Everyone has anxieties about their car breaking down on long trips. But for me, with that car, no.

I am confident and competent at many small things. Repairing my car, building a computer from the ground up, learning to reduce/eliminate sickness for myself and others, building a house (again, from the ground up).

What I have learned about fixing things ("Men fix, women vent") is that it about not wasting money, about feeling as less stress, anger and anxiety as I can, about feeling as much eudaimnonia (well-being) as I can, through arete (excellence, being good at what you do).

When you are confident and competent at what you, it doesn't really seem like work. It's more like play, although play is often a serious thing. At best you can achieve what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called Flow: "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does."

The reason I write so much about the Four Cardinal Virtues (and "virtue" means "the powers of man" is because it's not just about how you treat other people, but how you treat things, and ultimately how you treat yourself."

And that, when you come right down to it, is what civilization is about.

"The very concept of heroism, of human taking control of the forces around them and doing good, is fundamentally antithetical to the dull dispirited flaccid despair which is the natural moral atmosphere of nihilism and moral relativism." - John C. Wright

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