The Arrogant Moron: Always Right and Never Wrong

I have worked with some really brilliant people. I mean really brilliant. People that are either great artists, fantastic property investors, superior currency & option traders, excellent cafe operators and people who have mastered their health (or any combination of the above). I learn a lot from friends like these and some of them really have it together. In just watching them kick goal after goal, it has always made me ponder “What are they doing, which I am not?”

In my own observations, I found:

– They are hard on themselves and push themselves to achieve more.
– They don’t believe they are the smartest person in the world, but believe they are “Good Enough” to do a decent job.
– Can ride out the “Bad Times”, stick to their guns and build on what they have.
– Respect that there are both people who are “Better” and “Worse” than them in the world.
– They think the above is fine and are focused on their “Own Race”.

I have also had the unique pleasure of working with people (some, but not many of which have had good results) that:

– Aren’t hard on themselves at all.
– The “Successful” ones on quite a few occasions have either “Got Lucky” or have had “Rich Parents” – but then, they perform “Mental Back flips” or lie claiming that they did it themselves.
– At some level they “Know they are so much smarter than everyone else”.
– When someone close to them outdoes them in a given area, they are quick to criticise or act in a way to try to “Bring Them Down”.

Contrary to the heading of this article, I once worked with a person that was actually “Not a Moron” at all. However, they really had some strong inflexible beliefs that in practise made people think of them as a “Moron”. For example, they were:

– Never Responsible for losses – If something went well, it was due to them. If something failed, it was due to their Manager not supporting them, the Supplier Stuffing up and one of their Staff Members not doing their job.
– Was always “Right” – Every idea that wasn’t from them had something wrong with it, but their own ideas were very “Accurate”, “Sharp” and “Powerful”. When their ideas didn’t go according to plan, they simply used the belief above to ensure they are “Always Right”.
– Complete distrust for their own Staff – They managed a team and were known to completely ignore their own Staff’s advice. That is, they hired people with specific functions – and then would quite often ignore them and “Just do what they want” with little justification (or at least a very limited understanding of the area in which they make a decision).

What made this person “Dangerous” was that they controlled a significant budget and had quite a bit of power. Their decision-making was miles off and they made one bad call after an another. As this person believed they were “So Smart”, it made them highly inflexible so that they couldn’t adapt and improve.  Eventually, this person lost out and was forced to leave. Even though “Justice” was served, there was a path of destruction that took quite a lot of time to heal. What was sad, was that this person was more than Smart Enough to win. They just blocked and ignored all the people trying to save them from themselves.

Now, I am not advocating the other extreme of being a “Yes-Man” and just following whatever you hear around you. Quite often, we have to make tough decisions that may go against what people around you are telling you. But, if taken to the extreme – you can go down the famous “Kevin Rudd Path”, ignore common sense advice and bring down yourself and lots of people around you. In my own life, sometimes I have gone a bit down the “Arrogance” Path and got into trouble. Then, I went down the “Yes-Man” path and got into trouble.

One of my most favourite older managers used to have this saying “Firm but Fair”. They would also say “Listen, but you are responsible for the call”.  This man was very clever and I think he really got the balance right. And guess what? He is highly successful in his health, finances, family and relationships.