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Proving Worthiness


Explanations > RelationshipsStatus Games > Proving Worthiness

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?



A good way to achieve status is, rather than play messy games, to simply prove that you are worthy of being given status by others.

Show that you deserve it. Take actions that lead others to admire you without prompting them. Act with courage, conviction and integrity. Show you self true to your personal values and to social norms. Act to achieve personal success and to help others. Be a role model to which others aspire.

Ways of proving worthiness include:

  • Completing allocated work on time.
  • Leading a team to success.
  • Helping vulnerable people.
  • Achieving things that others thought you could not.
  • Taking charge when others need help.
  • Being modest when you could claim status.


A manager implements a difficult change project without annoying too many people. She makes it successful largely through engaging others and communicating well. When other change projects have often failed or caused widespread unhappiness, she is seen as an effective leader and admired by people above and below her.

When power fails in a building, a person works over the weekend to ensure that this is restored for people on Monday morning.

A person on a team gets a reputation as being a thoughtful and reliable worker. As a result, their manager listens more to their views on what can and should be done.


The best form of status is where people admire real achievements and so increase their trust in the person who has proved to be worthy. There are few short-cuts to such a position, other than being vigilant for opportunities and having strong operational skills.

Status may be given in large chunks, such as when a person acts heroically or as an effective leader. But there is not always the opportunity to be a hero (and you may not be that brave). Fortunately, you can also gain status incrementally, for example by consistently completing work on time and generally being reliable.

A good way to gain status quickly is to surprise people. Do something that they would not expect you to do, and consequently are impressed by what you do. However do beware when acting differently from the way you would normally act, as people will wonder why you are doing this, and if they think you are just seeking status, then they will feel manipulated and punish you by either not giving status or even reducing it.

So what?

Build real skills and take a position of integrity whereby you consistently act in a way that is worthy of admiration. Avoid short-cuts and deception as ways to advance yourself in the short term. Avoid enemies wherever possible and avoid those who would do you harm or bad-mouth you.

See also

Self-development, Values, Surprise principle


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