One of the things that is problematic with working in isolation is having no reference to the work of others to provide a scale by which to judge oneself. I have been working for the last several months as the sole teacher in a new establishment that plans to open up other courses next year. I have worked in previous colleges that have taught English and know that by comparison to them my teaching standards are very high. However having said that, the number of colleges that have been closed down for not being up to standard is huge and those that no longer exist will naturally have teaching standards below those that I hold myself.
I do manage to project an impression of confidence a lot of the time but when I have nothing to gauge myself against does this impression of confidence actually mean anything. There are times when I am lacking in confidence to an incredible degree but in either state of mind neither of these projections means anything without being able to objectively gauge myself against anyone else who is conducting similar work to mine.
Looking around I sometimes get the feeling that all a lot of people are doing is projecting confident personas. I look at the boss and he has an incredibly confident appearance but then he is the boss; part of leadership is having that confident appearance. In fact isn’t that the key essential requirement of leadership, a confident appearance. Having looked at the management of a large number of companies it seems that with many CEOs and board members it is this appearance of confidence that is their only talent. Certainly there are some that have other qualities that go a long way to creating a successful company but at the same time this is overpowered by an ability to exude confidence.
This is of course tied into an ability to bluff. I have noticed those who I consider to be successful will at times create their own reality. They are fully confident in the fact that by the time evidence is called for there will be evidence on which to call. The problem with isolation is that you don’t see these bluffs. You think that everyone is telling the truth about how capable they are. When you actually come out into the light and look around you it could be that you discover you are surrounded by idiots. In fact you can be pretty certain of it.
Even that big guy on the top floor with the huge desk is only good at what he does. He may have no idea what you do. He thinks that he is placed in a higher position because he is better but really everyone’s scale is judged purely within their area. He may be one of the better choices for running a company but in all other walks of life he may be a gaffspapper. Certainly a lot of these people worked their way up but at every stage it was judged that his ability to exude confidence and bluster was better than his ability at whatever level of the business he was supposed to be working at.
Promotion is therefore a demotion of sorts. I’m sorry son but you have very few of the qualities that are necessary for designing a curriculum but on the plus side you are incredibly bossy and confident; you do like ordering people around and despite not actually knowing what you are doing you manage to bluff it most of the time. I am going to isolate you from the rest of the work force but as a consolation for shutting you away in your own office where you can’t mess up too badly I am prepared to give you a pay rise.