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Self-reliance: the Emerson ideal

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Ralph Waldo Emerson is usually remembered as an American poet and philosopher, not a career-development expert.

Yet, the philosophy of self-reliance that Emerson developed with his friend Henry David Thoreau offers a blueprint for accomplishing remarkable things in life.

Some examples:
  • Define your own life agenda and pursue it in the way that you decide is right.

  • Question authority. Look critically at new ideas and decide whether you accept them. Ultimately, you’re in charge of your life.

  • Beware of systems, cults and widely held beliefs. The fact that many other people have accepted an idea or belief doesn’t mean it’s correct.

  • Develop a thirst for firsthand life experience. For Emerson, books were great. But the more he could experience life directly and learn its lessons, the wiser he felt he became.

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