Thursday, July 3, 2014

Girls Only Want Boyfriends Who Have Great Skills: Media Case Studies of Skills and Confidence

Napoleon Dynamite came on in the gym the other day. I started to think about how it, and many other movies, resonate the lesson taught in  this really excellent post on (warning, there is some very uncouth language). It talked about how yes, it's essential to be nice and good and true inside, but ONLY BECAUSE OF WHAT IT MAKES US DO. Said another way, faith without works is dead.

If you are not a surgeon, you will not be able to operate on a gunshot victim, no matter how worthy your desire to do so.  Similarly if you don't have "skills," some kind of commodity you can offer the world, you won't be successful in any aspect of life, love, work, school, friends. From the Cracked post:
"What, so you're saying that I can't get girls...unless I have a nice job and make lots of money?"  
No, your brain jumps to that conclusion so you have an excuse to write off everyone who rejects you by thinking that they're just being shallow and selfish. I'm asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don't say that you're a nice guy -- that's the bare minimum... The patient is bleeding in the street. Do you know how to operate or not."

I love this. Everyone has something to offer on the inside! But, if you only have it on the inside, the only person it benefits is you. Why do you need skills? Why would it be important to have a boyfriend (or girlfriend, we're not being sexist) with skills? With something of value to offer?

Because people have real needs.
The people around us need things and they will find someone who can offer what they need. In a great exchange two entities (like a couple, a work place and employee, etc.) have something the other needs. They are both richer for the exchange. The miracle of business.

Here's the real shebang: having skills gives us that most magical of all words, Confidence.
Guys hate that girls only like "confident guys," thinking all confident guys are jerks. False. Confident guys are confident because they know they have skills. Once you have a skill and you know you have it, it's impossible not to have confidence. Are you ever worried that you'll fail at writing your name? Does your hand get sweaty as you pick up that pen and prepare to write? No. Because you have mastered that skill and you know you have. Confidence isn't something you have to try really hard to have. It's impossible not to have once you've mastered a skill.  And the cool thing is, the more skills you master, the more confidence you have, it transfers from one skill area to your overall being. You have confidence in you "skill" to master skills. (Ha:).

If we want to be successful then, we have to have skills, be aware of them, and use them to benefit the world.

Now we're going to have some fun exploring this concept in a few movies. 

Napoleon Dynamite knows the truth: 

Ah, poor Napoleon. He can't get the girl of his dreams, because he has no skills. What happens? Throughout the movie he a) Gains skills (horseback riding? dancing obviously, karate, campaigning) and b) Demonstrates them to the world (dancing in front of the school, helping Pedro run for SBP) and c) Gains confidence through his successful mastery of those skills (when the school applauds him, when Pedro wins).
After doing all this, he has CONFIDENCE enough to ask his main squeeze to play a round of volleyball. Righteous. He didn't when he first met her. He had nothing of benefit to offer her at their first interaction. She felt uncomfortable. But as their friendship grew and she saw that he was a great guy with a good heart that he manifested through external acts, she started liking him. How would the story have been different if Napoleon hadn't learned to dance? Campaign for Pedro? Do karate? He would have been a "nice guy" who she wrote off. Not BECAUSE he was nice, but because he didn't do anything with it to benefit people external to himself.

Walter Mitty knows the meaning of LIFE:
"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life."

Walter daydreams because he's unhappy with the life he's living. He has skills for sure, but not all the ones he wants/needs and he's not confident in the skills he has (i.e. introducing himself and his job to the beard guy, he's hardly confident). He goes adventuring and does actual things that are important for him to do as a TIME Magazine worker. Like actually travel, and chase down a needed picture.
He a) Gains skills and uses skills he didn't know he had (traveling, swimming in shark infested waters, hiking, talking to people) and b) Demonstrates them to the world (chasing down the picture, not giving up, traveling to get the missing photo) and c) Gains confidence through his successful mastery of those skills (talks confidently to Cheryl, talks confidently to the beard guy, gets the photo). In the end, he (spoiler alert) ends up with his face on the cover of LIFE Magazine, has a chance with Cheryl, and gains some respect from beard guy. What if Walter hadn't pursued those new skills? He would have nothing to offer beard guy for the magazine cover, Cheryl would have no reason to talk to him, and he wouldn't have hundreds of winks on his eHarmony page.

 Tom understands the painful irony of not using your skills to benefit the world:
Partygoer: So Tom, what is it that you do? 
Tom: I uh, I write greeting cards. 
Summer: Tom could be a really great architect if he wanted to be. 
Partygoer: That's unusual, I mean, what made you go from one to the other? 
Tom: I guess I just figured, why make something disposable like a building when you can make something that lasts forever, like a greeting card. 

 Tom meets a girl he likes while working at a greeting card office. They kinda like each other, but in the end, Summer doesn't feel right about it.  After the break up, Tom starts to revolutionize himself.
He a) Gains skills (applying for jobs, dressing professionally) and also brushes up on skills he already has (drafting architecture) b) Demonstrates them to the world (preparing architecture draft samples, applying for jobs, not giving up) and c) Gains confidence through his successful mastery of those skills (interviews at places way more professional than where he was working before). In the final scene, Tom is professional and confident as he shows up to an interview. He meets a girl and after a brief hesitation, confidently and respectfully asks her out. Remember, when he met Summer his techniques were wayyyy less confident, like playing music, dropping hints, showing up at office parties. His confidence increased because even if he's not 100% where he wants to be right now (he's still unemployed) he's using his skills to try to benefit others. What about Autumn? Would she have been impressed if she met the rumpled greeting card writer he was a year previously? Probably not. Not because he's a nice guy, but because he wasn't doing anything productive with his life.

So, there are lots of variations.

We may be a Napoleon, with no skills: get crackin' on learning some skills.

We may be a Walter, someone who has skills but doesn't really know that yet: start exploring and trying those skills in the real world.

We may be a Tom, fully aware we have skills, but lacking the external manifestation to benefit others: step up and start blessing other people's lives with our rad skills!

Read what Elder Richard G. Scott says about friendship being based on personal merit and selfless service.

No comments:

Post a Comment