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Do You Need to Be a Jerk to Become Successful?

Do You Need to Be a Jerk to Become Successful?

Steve Jobs is probably the easiest-to-recall example of a successful person with a well-known history of being a jerk. He’s not the only one, though. Jeff Bezos, the architect of Amazon and currently one of the richest men in the world, has also been labeled as a jerk by others. Beyond the tech industry, there are also examples. Tucker Max, a well-known author, literally leads the “About” section of his website with this:[1]

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world.”

    At this point, we need to stop and ask: do you need to be a jerk to be successful?

    Kindness as weakness?

    Jobs, Max, Bezos, and guys like Jordan Belfort (the main character in The Wolf of Wall Street) are some core examples of the prevailing idea that if you want to be rich and successful, you need to be a jerk.

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      That idea is underpinned by another idea: kindness as weakness. When you meet someone who is kind and goes out of their way for others, that’s typically a great feeling. Those people are rare. But over time, you’ll notice that person get taken advantage of. They get hurt time and again by others. You get mad. Your friend shouldn’t be treated like that.

      Over time, you start to wonder: why won’t they stand up for themselves? Are they too passive? Are they worried about the opinions of others?

      Kindness should be a cornerstone element of the human condition because it connects us together in positive ways. But too often it’s seen as a weakness, or a personality aspect to exploit.

      Especially in a business context—often very competitive, where losing an advantage could mean bankruptcy— people move in the completely opposite direction. Instead of being kind, they are jerks. This is a pathway to power and control.

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      What’s behind the jerks

      This is what is commonly missed in these “You must be a jerk to be successful” discussions: success comes from many inputs.

        If someone is a complete jerk 100 percent of the time, they likely won’t be successful long-term. Rather, they will become selfish, self-centered and have lots of blind spots. They’ll keep taking other’s advantages and never making any sacrifice, which makes people hate them. When no one is willing to trust and support them, they have to work all alone even at tough times, hindering the chance

        How do you explain someone like Steve Jobs, then? He was a jerk and he was very successful.

        In that case, you have to look at what Jobs was trying to accomplish. He legitimately wanted to change the world. His focus was on making that happen, and he largely did — his products completely changed six industries including animated movies, digital publishing, music, personal computers, phones and tablet computing.[2] Because his focus was on product design at a world-shifting level, he let other priorities (i.e. relationships) slide, and was often a jerk to people because they were in the way of his vision. His success came from his passion and skill sets. It didn’t come from him being a jerk.

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        Tucker Max had a passion for telling interesting stories in new ways. That’s where his success came from. It’s similar to Jobs in some ways: passion was the driver, and passion also caused him to be perceived as a jerk along the way.

        How much do you want success?

        It’s never about deciding to be a successful jerk or an unsuccessful nice guy. It’s all about the kind of success you want to lead. When you know the type of success you want, you’ll put your passion into that.

        This will require a laser focus of how you spend your time, your thoughts, and even your emotions. Other things that don’t contribute that much to your ultimate goal will get sacrificed.

        It doesn’t mean you have to become a jerk, though. It only means you might not be as good with people as you are with your “big idea.”

        No one is perfect, and sometimes we sacrifice the relationships for the end goal. It doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk, but it’s one potential consequence.

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        The best path is to be wise and know the type of success you are looking for, then take stock of where you are making sacrifices. If not being seen as a jerk is important to you, you’ll have to adjust a little bit how you deal with others.

        Focus both on the end goal and on what it’s taking to get there.

        Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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        Last Updated on March 19, 2019

        How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most

        How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most

        Nod your head if you’ve ever had to ask for help at work, at home or anywhere else. Now, nod again if you’ve ever felt shy or silly when doing so.

        I’m sure some of you reading would have nodded twice!

        Whether it’s not knowing the answer to a question in class and looking around to see if your classmates knew, getting stuck on a project at work and needing to get additional input from colleagues, or just being in a new city and needing help with directions, we’ve all been down this road before.

        We may not know what to do, and clearly would benefit with some help, yet we won’t–or are afraid to–ask for help. We either very reluctantly do so eventually, or decide to suffer in silence altogether.

        Why Are We so Afraid of Asking for Help?

        So what stops us from seeking the help that we need? Sometimes it might be that we fear requesting assistance as we don’t want to seem weak, needy or incompetent in front of strangers, our peers or superiors.

        Especially if you’re in a competitive work environment, there is an understandable fear that if you let your guard down, this information about you not knowing will be used against you. If you’re too open about asking for help, people may start associating you as the leech who’s always relying on someone, and you’ll start to appear incapable in front of your peers. And as much as you would like to play a fair and just game, the reality is that not everyone thinks that way. There will be overly aggressive individuals out there who will gladly walk over you to get to the top in their career.

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        Not to mention, your reputation is at stake. If word got out that you had to seek help of some form, you’ll feel embarrassed or perhaps insecure. You might feel less confident about your abilities and worry about what others think of you. You’re afraid to attract that kind of attention at work.

        Unfortunately, we all have a natural tendency to judge ourselves harshly–often thinking of situations much worse than they actually are in reality. As a result, we also miss out on a lot of potential knowledge or help. If only we were able to see past all that self imposed negativity! Or, at least learn how to manage such situations in a more confident manner.

        Meet Paul

        I have a friend by the name of Paul who runs his own company. He started at a young age and is already a very successful business man at age 40.

        When I ask Paul to name something he does to stay focused and on track in life, he tells me that he has a life coach. He has regular monthly sessions with a life coach who helps him through different aspects of his life.

        “It almost sounds like a counseling session”, I told Paul.

        He simply replied, “Yes.”, with a smile.

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        To Paul, the purpose of having a life coach is to give him perspective and to call out on areas of his life that he may have missed out on or neglected.

        He see’s having a life coach as a benefit to his success, and not as a sign of weakness.

        We’re Seeing It All Wrong

        This got me thinking. Many of us automatically assume that going for counseling, taking self help courses, or seeing a life coach means that something unpleasant has happened or is happening in your life. The word help is regarded as a negative.

        But the truth is, if we can turn “help” around to see it as a positive act, then going for any of the above would actually be an empowering act.

        You need not be in some dire state to seek change. You also don’t have to be at some terrible dead-end or crossroad in life only to seek help. It may just be that you’re wanting to better improve your wellbeing, or to go through some self development to become a better you.

        Everyone goes through periods of change in their lives. Whether it’s naturally occurring, or a ‘forced’ change, it’s always meant to improve our well being, and allow us to become better versions of ourselves. But we can’t always make or go through change alone, and that is completely normal. So we should embrace that fact and know that seeking help from someone or somewhere is a perfectly normal thing to do, and not something to be ashamed of.

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        Help Is Not a Form of Weakness 

        In Paul’s case, having a life coach helps give him an extra set of eyes so that he can envision his life and plans much clearer.

        As a busy working professional, he has many responsibilities to attend to alongside being a father and husband. In order not to burn out or lose sight of his goals, Paul’s life coach acts as a reminder and offers him new insights to problems or situations that Paul may find himself in.

        This is applicable to any form of help and not limited to what a life coach can bring to the table. Research has proven that having a support system has many positive benefits, such as higher levels of well-being, better coping skills and a longer and healthier life.

        If this isn’t enough to convince you, even the most successful people like Richard Branson and Warren Buffet require asking for help and have other people advise them.

        Take athletes for an example. Behind every successful athlete, or any athlete for that matter, is a coach. He or she is there to train and guide them on their path to greatness. Coaches have the ability to point out blind spots and play on the athlete’s strengths. The athlete focuses on a current or specific training routine, but the coach already has a bigger plan mapped out and that one training routine that the athlete is focusing on, is but one of many more training routines that will eventually lead to the athlete succeeding and outperforming. Without the coach’s vision to map that out and guide the athlete, the athlete will be training blindly, and not maximising his efforts.

        Seeking Help Is Strength

        By taking an active step in seeking help or advice, you’re actually taking control of your life, and not letting external circumstances (such as what people think) affect how you behave and perform. It is courageous to accept your weaknesses!

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        So if you’re at a point in life where you’re wanting some change to happen, or feel stuck in a rut, it’s time to turn your weakness into strength by seeking help.

        Here at Lifehack, we’re committed to your personal development. We want to be your transformational coach, to pull you out of that rut so you can be up and going again. Even if you’re not feeling stuck or at a crossroad, there is always more that you can do to improve and upgrade your life.

        Want to learn how to save more time than wasting it? Or how to find out what you should be focusing on at present? Perhaps you just simply want to learn how to ignite that spark of motivation within you again to either pursue new interests or to continue pushing ahead with existing goals.

        Learning never ends. So no matter your age, we’re here to guide you towards becoming a better you.

        If you’re keen to take that step towards becoming a better you, begin a journey of transformation with us here!

        As we guide you through important lessons and Cornerstone Skills that will significantly change your life, you will live the life you’ve always wanted!

        Featured photo credit: Andre Maliik via unsplash.com

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