I read Tyler Hurst’s “You can not circle jerk your way to success” and it struck a chord with some thoughts I had been having, but never explored because writing is such a horrible medium for me. I think that a lot of people like the “echo chamber” because it is safe, but more importantly there is a life meme that seems to be floating around that states to influence people you need to kiss their ass. While brown nosing may get you some where it certainly isn’t to a place of influence.
Here are some problems I see with “sucking up”:
- It doesn’t make you or the person you are sucking up to any better.
- It tricks the person you are sucking up to into believe they are something they are not.
- It removes the friction/tension/conflict necessary to be truly innovative.
- It is often done in the name of collaboration. Collaboration is not sucking up. Collaboration is freely sharing ideas, not necessarily agreeing on them.
- It tries to remove competition. Competition when done properly can be quite healthy.
- It is often masked as “Encouragement”, but generally is little more than lying.
- It hurts your credibility and reduces trust, both critical to influence.
- It is the worst way to show our esteem for someone.
- It puts the focus on “you” instead of what is important.. “Look at me.. and what I’ve done…”
- It builds false confidence.
The upsides are:
- It will temporarily make you feel much more liked and accepted.
Ultimately kissing ass causes you to lose your self respect, the respect of your peers and ultimately leaves you ashamed and wanting. It is just a sign that you feel vulnerable and are susceptible to the decisions of others rather your own thoughts and ideas.
Instead I would suggest that you challenge the status quo. Push people in their ideas and thoughts. Not out of anger or jealousy but out of the love of humanity.
“When we all think a like no one is thinking.” — Walter Lipman
Here are some problems I see with “challenging people’s thoughts/ideas”:
- It will make you less liked
- It forces you to deal with being lonely
- It can be done in ways that are constructive in name alone
The upsides are:
- It allows both parties to build confidence knowing they have learned to defend their thoughts.
- It puts the focus on the problems, not the people.
- It is the best way to show someone you care. No one really wants a bunch of “yes” men.
- It helps your credibility and improves trust if you work towards solutions together.
- It encourages healthy forms of competition.
- It provides the necessary part of the innovation formula.
- It grounds people in reality and makes them appreciate hard won breakthroughs.
- It makes all parties better.
“Every act of creativity is first of all an act of destruction.” — Picasso
Criticism only comes when you do something. Doing something is a risk. We are only moving forward when we put ourselves at risk. So like Tyler I encourage everyone to flee from the safety of your echo chamber and cling to those that will challenge your thoughts and your ideas. If you aren’t creating new thoughts and ideas then I challenge you to start. Start moving yourself and others around you, forward.
Simply put if you really want to influence people you MUST engage them. Blindly following them or placating to their every whim is not engagement. Find that person or group that demands excellence from you and immerse yourself.