CATALYST by Steven Smith


Catalyst: How Confidence Reacts with Our Strengths to Shape What We Achieve and Who We Become
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Smith and Marcum submit a work in progress that seeks to define genuine confidence.

Catalysts, or the agents that motivate our behaviors, are tricky things, suggest Smith and Marcum in this thoughtful, observant behavioral study. They require the correct measure: too much or too little can undermine the strongest positions or astute ideas. A poised confidence—one such catalyst—helps avoid the minefields of arrogance, which leads to warped egotistical behaviors or insecurity, which spawns cripplingly low self-esteem and exaggerated self-doubt. Awareness is crucial to both gaining confidence and competence, say the authors; each new piece of knowledge builds strength. Smith and Marcum note that the reader isn’t in this alone; partnerships are needed by all: “The interactive, socially-wired world is where confidence and competence connect to produce relevance: where what I can do what you need.” The path of confidence is not a straight and narrow one—freethinking and exploration are part of the project—but the blessing of Smith and Marcum’s work is that it’s immensely practical. In daily interactions, before one gets lost in ego distractions (either one’s own or others’), there are warning signs—sometimes subtle, sometimes not—and Smith and Marcum wave great red flags to avoid such distractions. The authors poke readers away from egocentricity here and toward reciprocity there; they nurture respect—respect as a liberating power—by earning it and giving it. The guide explains that people are sensitive to cues that separate the diplomat from the chameleon, the candid from the tactless, the comrade from the toady; sometimes we just need to recalibrate the gauge of self-awareness to correct course. Smith and Marcum explain how to achieve that recalibration and stay balanced.

Thoughtfully counsels readers to find the complements to their strengths: to be direct and adaptable, passionate and compromising, and decisive and thorough.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2014
Page count: 110pp
Publisher: Veracity, LC
Program: Kirkus Indie
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