Get Over Yourself

How about the guy that gets the promotion out of two or three peers that were all up for the same job? If all of the guys were talented to get as far as they did in the interview process, chances are good what separated them was not very much. Maybe their skill sets were identical but one candidate had better leadership skills or something and it was enough to give him the promotion.  If that’s the case, then this person will now be supervising some of the very people who were interested in taking the job themselves. The new supervisor should work very hard to be sure the balance of the staff values the input of the runners-up and doesn’t think he’s got all the answers just because he came out ahead on a very close race. There’s nothing worse than a new supervisor getting all puffed up about his importance which may cause his support staff to actually try to work against him just to make him look bad. Get over yourself, already.

Then there’s the guy who’s on a financial hot streak. These guys were abundant in the 1990s. A new job increased the salary dramatically, a couple investments panned out way better than expected and all of a sudden, he’s a financial wizard. He knows everything about everything that has to do with money. He gives advice freely, but smugly warns that you may not have the funds available to do as he suggests. He snickers when you mention your measly annual bonus.  He nods and smiles a tight smile when you show him your new but used car. And then it turns out his financial windfall was not so much a testimony of his skills but rather a one-time lottery win. Things had almost accidently worked out in his favor but he’s raked through all that cash already and he is suddenly behind on payments, a little short on cash, and perhaps needing a little loan if you can spare it.  This guy should not only get over himself but should seek a time-share with Charlie Sheen. Be careful what you say to whom on the way up, big shot. You are likely to run into them again on the way down.

OK–we’ve laid out enough examples. What do you do if your kid, friend, partner, spouse looks like he/she may be heading down this path of self-inflated importance? How do you kill the pattern or better yet how do you stop it from beginning in the first place?

The obvious answer with children is to give them responsibilities at a very young age and remind them how it all fits together. You see a kid who makes his bed in the morning, wipes down the sink and tub after showering and brushing, makes his own breakfast (AND if he has time makes it for you too) is starting the day constructively AND humbly. His actions are making a speech all their own. It is saying, “Mom, Dad–you don’t have to sweep up after me. You have enough to do and I am responsible for myself.” If you can establish this kind of habit from a young age, you are not only building a fine young adult, you are also shaping a future husband or wife who will avoid all those potential arguments that come with marriage! Those good habits will bleed into work and friendships and everything. He won’t blame the policeman who pulled him over for speeding. He will blame himself for not paying attention to how fast he was going.  This is simply called personal responsibility!

Now–to knock these conceited habits out of an older person is no small chore. They have likely had an enabler somewhere in their previous life who told them they were always special. Someone who picked up their laundry, made their bed, paid their tickets and always bought into their line of baloney that made them faultless when a problem arose. The only remedy I know of to break that person’s tendencies is to not be that person for them. You have to break the pattern. Let the laundry pile up, let them run out of gas, let their license expire, let the alarm go unset as they find themselves late to another appointment.

Perhaps I am a little more sensitive to this because my parents, grandparents, and supposedly great-grand parents were hard-nosed, working-class people who resisted any kind of favoritism or preference in life. They believed character was formed by depending on oneself and staying humble. Some people take a lifetime to understand this. Some never catch on at all. Some preach it, but can’t perform it. And there’s others that never stop to think about it because they are too busy perfecting their own skills and trying hard to get ahead. They have been over themselves forever.

Ron Ciancutti is the Director of Procurement for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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