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Self-worth | and the new role of communities

We live in the century of the self, but ironically, a sense of self-worth can be a difficult thing to come by. Indeed, there’s a wealth of research that shows a negative correlation between overuse of social media and mental wellbeing. But before we address this, we need to ask what worthiness means. While the dictionary definition of worthiness is ‘the quality of deserving respect or attention’, the real definition of worthiness is something that is felt, rather than thought. We feel worthy of doing something, having something, or being somewhere. As a report by Indeed says

‘Self-worth is your appraisal of your value as a person. A sense of worthiness often results from the feeling that you have good qualities and can achieve positive things. Additionally, self-worth relates to the essential and permanent characteristics of your identity.

So what makes someone feel worthy? One short and predictable answer is recognition. When we are recognized for having done something, or for having done something well, this reinforces our sense of worthiness. This might mean a tangible reward for good work and conduct, or it might simply take the form of verbal praise, or a good appraisal. Another simple answer might be that self worth is a product of how we think about ourselves.

What prevents people from feeling worthy of where they are in life? Some people find that they have an inherent difficulty in thinking positively about their own accomplishments, which constitutes a kind of long-running personal problem, which is likely complex in nature and highly specific to the individual’s past. For most people, though, the main things that obstruct a sense of accomplishment and worthiness are to do with not being recognized for having done something, or not being able to recognize worth in oneself. Perhaps social-media plays a role in the latter.

There are some obvious ways in which people can cultivate a greater sense of worthiness: these include reminding yourself that you have value, by remembering times when you had a positive effect on the world. They also include asking people you trust what they think of you, and asking for their thoughts on your capabilities and shortcomings as a way of better understanding your worth. All of these relatively straightforward ideas are directed as the individual fixing the problem themselves. But there is an inherent problem with this: people devoid of a sense of worth will find these things very difficult if not impossible to do. They need some kind of structured, external validation framework that allows them to actually quantify their worth.

There have been various attempts at doing this for young people, which have been relatively successful. The Duke of Edinburgh Award - which I, myself, did in my teens - has been an effective way of showing people their worth by rewarding them for completing challenging tasks, and helping their communities. The DofE award has now become an international scheme which aims to reward young people across the commonwealth for pushing their personal boundaries. In the words of the late Duke of Edinburgh himself - ‘the value doesn’t lie in doing each section with brilliant success, but it lies in the side effects of the exposure to new activities: greater self confidence, wider experience, compassion through understanding the misfortune of others’.

But what if we could do the same for the world of work? What if it were possible for individuals to index, record and review their accomplishments, work history and performance? In effect, this is what TiiQu is trying to bring into being: an irrefutable, verifiable, permanent record of an individual’s history and trajectory. We see this as being not only an asset for employers, but for individuals as well, who can use TiiQu technology to take control of their own accomplishments and achievements. By rethinking organizations, education hubs and communities at large, we can build a future in which people are recognized for who they are: continuously evolving human beings who grow through experience. People are not monoliths: they are individuals, who can derive a sense of worthiness from objective evidence of their worth.

This is the seventh of 8 articles aimed at discussing the aspects of individual fulfilment for the future of work. Sign up here! See Meritocracy for whom? here Why meaningfulness matters here.

Image | Noel Bauza from Pixabay

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