“Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can.” — Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind, 5.2
It may be cute to see a young person sing on stage, even if they lack musical talent, but maybe not so much when they are mature adults. Perhaps you know someone who didn’t quite make it into the music scene but were somehow convinced that others have failed to recognize their greatness. You might say they are like those who try to rigorously take down a large tree with a blunt hand saw, not stopping to reflect that it might be to their advantage to sharpen the blade.
Let us remain in the affirmative for the time being and consider the benefits of having a solid understanding of our capacity, aptitude, natural strength, intelligence, or in short, our overall ability to make good decisions and draw sound conclusions. From this position we could know what doors might open to us beforehand and what hallways to avoid. Assuming the right environment is in place we might say the world is our oyster and every outcome of action on our part a degree of success. If only providence could turn for us with such ease and predictability.
The truth of the matter is that there is a lot of grey to the choices we make in life. In fact there is a great deal of content that we can’t possibly know before it happens. But that shouldn’t stop us from giving our best or attempting to navigate our way through life’s challenges. Because there are so many facets to living together in a community, and there is not enough time in the world to become good at everything, we are obliged to deal effectively with others for various services and goods. Therefore we need to be selective, so that we might focus on what is important, and avoid spinning our tires. And in order to do this with proficiency, it is prudent to know what is within our control, that we might remain honest about our abilities and preserve trust in our relationships with others.