May 9, 2016 by Liberty
Virtually everyone is screwed up.
I feel like this is an essential point to make before starting this article. I’m going to be going into the details of a number of “character flaws” but all of this is essentially pointing to an equally important concept.
Most people feel a compulsive desire to hide their own character flaws. If a person has low confidence then they feel the need to create a facade of confidence. If they’re arrogant then they feel the need to act like they’re humble. People play this silly game of misdirection on factors that could easily be considered basic human variabilities. Not everyone is good at everything but virtually everyone feels the desire to pretend like they’re the exception to the rule.
I want to explore the alternative option.
Some of the most powerful people in history had glaring character flaws. The list of “heroes” with major sexual escapades on their record include countless individuals including Martin Luther King Jr., and Ghandi. The list of investors with mindblowing tempers that ruined close relationships is long. (Heck… the list of investors with major superstitions controlling their decision making process is long too.) Top business people regularly have traits similar to that of a psychopath.
All these men and women succeed despite having major character flaws pulling them in the opposite direction.
Or perhaps, as I’m going to explore in this article, they succeeded partially because of their major character flaws. (I think the average liberal would be quick to agree on the psychopath/businessman correlation.)
Jack Of All Trades. Master Of None.
No one can be good at everything.
There are so many areas of life to be highly skilled at, in most fields with any significant depth, it’s impossible to be an expert without investing years of effort. Considering the limited years that the average person has access to, there are only so many things that a person can get good at. This is a point that’s ingrained in the average person’s perceptions of their peers.
It’s very difficult to fit a person into two high skilled categories without those two high skilled areas being very closely related to one another. While someone may someday be considered a skilled dancer and singer because the two fields are so closely related to one another, virtually no one will ever be a great mathematician and a great juggler. By that, I’m not saying by an objective perspective.
When people see a man that’s a great mathematician and juggler (judged by some objective standard,) their brains tend to categorize that person as either a great mathematician or a great juggler, virtually never as both. More likely they’d be categorized as a great mathematician distracted by juggling (or perhaps a great juggler distracted by math.)
A scene from “Pursuit Of Happyness” offers an interesting example of the other side of this point. The main character of the story is stuck in a interview for a prestigious job wearing paint stained clothes. The person interviewing him asks something like, “What would you say if I told you I hired a guy without a shirt?” (The main character was wearing a tank top because he was forced to be late for the interview if I remember right.) The main character responded explaining that “the guy must have had some really nice pants.”
The Glaringly Obvious Wound
I love that scene because it reminds me of a common mistake that people make when it comes to situations like that.
One might assume a man going into an interview for a prestigious job opportunity without a shirt would be at a major disadvantage. It usually isn’t quite that simple though. Sure, if he came to the interview with a cheap non-designer dress shirt, he may be at a disadvantage. At best the shirt would play no role in the interviewer’s decision making. At worst, the interviewers would dismiss him based on the subpar shirt choice.
Going into the interview in a tanktop while every other candidate is going into the interview wearing dress shirts is much less dangerous. Yes… MUCH LESS…
First of all, when a man goes to an interview in a tank top when he should be wearing a dress shirt, he controls the conversation. That is a point that will come up. Instantly, the person going for the interview knows where the conversation is going to be going. That person can prepare in advance with catchy responses that make him look intelligent and charming.
Second, no publicity is bad publicity. Sure… I don’t stand by that in all situations. I suspect it’s a little more complicated than none or all. In this case, this is some serious negative publicity. While the schmuck who wore a cheap dress shirt to the interview is going to never get talked about twice, the man wearing the paint covered tank top is going to have people talking about him. Some people will think in the extreme negatives (he’s a slob) while others will be thinking in the extreme positives (he was so charming and confident despite…)
This is the benefit of the glaringly obvious wounds that people suffer from. It’s a marketing tool. When you have a minor quirk then no one will think twice about you unless you’re one of the best in the world. When you have a seriously nasty problem, people will think twice about you. There is more variability in people’s opinions of you.
Variability Is A Good Thing
Variability in situations like a job interview could easily be mistaken for a neither positive nor negative situation. Since the interviewer’s perception of you could be dramatically higher or dramatically lower than usual, you may think about the situation as evening out. The positive and negatives might be thought of as the average of the good and bad but that’s just not true in certain situations like a job interview.
When people are competing for a relatively small number of opportunities, the difference between not offending but not impressing someone and offending someone is virtually meaningless. In both situations you’ll end up not competing. The difference between impressing someone versus everything else is the important distinction. If your major character flaw increases your chances of being notable then it increases your chances of not being in the boring and useless middle zone.
In situations like this one, variability is a good thing because it’s impossible for it to be more negative than a certain point (or virtually impossible.)
There are countless supermodels with ugly and distinctive flaws. There are countless failed models that are virtually impossible to notice flaws on. This is only partially true though. It’s easy to remember the supermodels with ugly and distinctive flaws. It’s hard to remember the supermodels without any notable flaws because they blend into the boring category of supermodel.
Everyone has their own beauty marks.
Some of the most interesting and intelligent men and women I’ve met in my life were arrogant dicks. Is that actually true? Probably not. It’s more likely that I remember the arrogant dicks that happened to be intelligent easier than the intelligent people without character flaws. With all this in mind, what will people be remembering you for?
No… there are plenty of mildly pleasant friendly faces. They won’t remember you for that. Sure… I’m not saying it’s best to be remembered. Maybe it’s not. If your goal is to do or be something memorable though you may want to consider this.
Am I saying to suddenly turn yourself into something you’re not to be remembered better?
Absolutely not. To return to my original point in this article: We are all screwed up. How are you screwed up? Is this really something that you should be trying to hide? Or, perhaps, is it something that you should show to the world every chance you get?
Maybe you should hide it. It’s just a point to consider.
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