Within an organization, self-assertiveness is required not merely to have a good idea but to develop it, fight for it, work to win supporters for it and do everything within one’s power to see that it gets translated into reality. It is a lack of self-assertiveness that causes so many potential contributions to die before they are born.
As a business consultant, when I am asked to work with a team that has difficulty functioning effectively on some project, I often find that one source of the dysfunction is one or more people who do not really participate or put themselves into the undertaking. Afraid that their contributions will not matter, in their passivity they become saboteurs. A project manager once told me, “I’d rather worry about handling some egomaniac who thinks he’s the whole project than struggle with some self-doubting but talented individual whose insecurities stop him from kicking in what he’s got to offer.”
Without appropriate self-assertiveness, we become spectators rather than participants. Healthy self-esteem asks that we leap into the arena – that we be willing to get our hands dirty.
Self-assertion entails the willingness to confront rather than shy away from the challenges of life and to strive for mastery. When we expand the boundaries of our ability to cope, we expand self-efficacy and self-respect. When we commit ourselves to new areas of learning, when we take on tasks that stretch us, we raise personal power. We thrust ourselves further into the universe. We assert our existence.
When we attempt to acquire new skills, absorb new knowledge and extend the reach of our mind across unfamiliar spaces – when we commit ourselves to moving to a higher level of competence – we are practicing self-assertiveness.