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Do I Have to Be a Jerk to Succeed?
A slice of the most successful leaders are not the best people. The same thing goes for talent. Being a top performer in music, sports, or entertainment doesn’t mean you’re a quality human being. Far too often, it seems just the opposite is true.
The correlation between highly talented and successful people and character is not as high as it should be. Let’s face it. Some very successful and talented people are jerks.
Maybe success poisoned their good character, but it is more likely they became jerks along the way and liked it. Or maybe they were always stinkers and succeeded despite their bad manners. Whatever the reason, successful jerks teach us the wrong lessons.
There are so many highly profile jerks in the world that some people presume you can’t be successful without being a skunk. That’s the biggest shame.
The fact is, being successful or talented doesn’t require you to behave in a good or a bad way. That’s up to you. But talent and success hold such an allure that we often overlook selfish and immature behavior, chalking it up to the price of being that talented.
It’s just not true. Success and character are yoked when we require them to be and too often that is not the case.
Unfortunately, in too many circles, extreme success and talent will allow some people to get away with murder. They act badly, selfishly, or scandalously without consequence.
Because we find success and talent so alluring, we give the most accomplished jerks a pass. We let them say and do things that we would never accept from anyone else. We acknowledge their unsavory attitudes and behavior and cheer them on. Sadly, the inexperienced come to believe you must be a jerk to succeed.
Successful jerks make for a better story than those people of talent who don’t make waves or news. It’s not that there are more jerks among successful people. It’s just that we hear a lot more about them. The real news is that becoming highly successful doesn’t make you a person of quality or stop you from being one.
So don’t be fooled. How you treat others is entirely a learned set of behaviors. And the learning is up to you. Success and talent are much sweeter when everyone thinks highly of you. The contrast is a mirage in society. Jerks are best known for one thing: Being jerks.