People are idiots
The following is an excerpt from my book, ‘Win at Home First’.
Peter is a successful marketing executive with a Fortune 50 company I have been blessed to coach for the last eighteen months. One of the early stages in our coaching engagements is to have clients identify items in their personal and professional life that can be categorized in a few different categories: breakthrough, frustration, failure, and battle.
I was shocked to see what Peter had in the “frustration” category: “people are idiots.” No joke! As we unpacked this more, Peter expressed that he did not have patience for people who were not as smart as him. He was extremely intelligent and had made it this far on competency and self-drive alone.
My role as a coach is to work with clients to grow in both competency and character. When competency outgrows character, bad things are bound to happen as pride gets in the way. This can lead one to become self-dependent and self-serving. On the other hand, if there is not growth in competency, then they can stagnate, become complacent, and ultimately be passed by the competition.
Investing in character development allows you to become self-aware, humble, and God-dependent. This puts you in a posture to serve others as you continue to grow in competency, leadership, and opportunity.
A great book, Lead Yourself First, by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin, shows the difference between good and great leaders to be the discipline of solitude. Through interesting stories, they provide evidence of how solitude brings leaders clarity, creativity, emotional balance, and moral courage.
A true and convicting quote in the book is from James Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps General: “An effective leader is the person who can maintain their balance and reflect, when a lot of people around them are reacting. If I was to sum up the single biggest problem of senior leadership in the information age, it’s a lack of reflection.”
So as the weeks progressed, Peter and I worked on practicing solitude, self-reflection, journaling (which he had never done before), and treating people as people, not a threat or a means to an end. On our eighth call, a light bulb went on for him.
“I have a really weird story to tell you,” he said. “Awesome, tell me.”
“No, this is really weird. I feel like an idiot saying it.”
“I hear all kinds of things on these calls; nothing is weird at this point.”
“Well,” Peter went on, “the other day, I was in a boardroom meeting and, I know this is going to sound weird, but I felt that I could hit pause on the meeting, zoom out, and watch myself and others in the meeting.”
I was ecstatic. We were getting transformation! “That is amazing!” I said. “Well done! You are starting to see people as people. You are growing in emotional intelligence. You are growing more secure in your identity. You used to have to win every argument or make sure you said the smartest thing in the room. Instead, you are now thinking, ‘I don’t need to have the last word.’ Or, ‘I don’t need to win this argument or point; instead, Suzy can have it.’ You are seeing the bigger picture instead of your small world.”
Our story is a part of a much greater story. Until we choose to participate in the greater story, we will always be fighting small, irrelevant battles.
We all struggle with wanting to care just for ourselves because we have been told, “If you don’t watch out for yourself, no one else will.” Yes, there may be some instances of that, but the majority of the time, evidence shows it is better to give than to take.
Thank you for reading,