In the art of entrepeneurship, you are certainly a genius, and I an asshole. But in the art of argument the genius is me, and you the asshole.
– Indro Montanelli
In this final installment of “An Occasional Asshole’s Guide to Being a Decent Human Being,” I’m going to share with you my truths about being an occasional asshole. Maybe it will help you. Then, again, maybe not. Just remember, I use the word “occasional” because I’m not writing this for those of you who might be flaming assholes. I deal with you extreme guys everyday and, frankly, I have no tolerance for you anymore. Rather, I’m here to talk some sense into those of you who are teetering on the edge of turning your casual assholiness into customary assholiness.
Scott’s Truth About Being An Occasional Asshole
You can be an occasional asshole and still be kind. You can’t be an occasional asshole and still be nice, however. But you don’t want to focus on being nice, anyway. You want to be kind. And sometimes being kind means you need to assert yourself and draw lines in the sand. You need to be aware of your boundaries and what does and does not work for you. When you teach other people how to treat you, some of the people being schooled will call you an asshole. That’s okay.
You can be occasional asshole and not be mean. I’m all about you being powerful and even aggressive (that comes with being passionate, by the way). You can be competitive and high pressure, even in-your-face, without being hateful and nasty. The former is all about having determination and energy. The latter is about being offensive and detestable.
You can be an occasional asshole and still love yourself. Not the narcissistic kind of self-love. The authenticity and pride in knowing that you want to better the world you live in. And you know what you like and will stand for enough that you’re confident enough to call things as you see them. That means it’s okay for you to set boundaries, set expectations, and know when to say, “no.” The occasional asshole is not a “pleaser,” they are “positive.” And people who are “positive” are okay with expressing themselves at the risk of violating normal rules of etiquette. Think of the occasional asshole as modern society’s version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” You know the story where the child cries out at seeing the King: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
You can be an occasional asshole. We all can be. We all are. The challenge is that most of you would rather not admit to that fact. If you can’t admit it, you’re a closeted asshole. (And, between us, they’re the worst kinds of assholes. These are your passive-aggressive types. They’ll be “nice” to your face, then they’ll just stab you in the back when you’re not looking. At least you can take the extreme asshole on in a frontal attack.) Why not just come out and acknowledge that you think asshole thoughts at times? What’s the worst that can happen? Oh wait, you’re not one of those who want to repress the reality of your feelings, are you? If you are, that strangulation of how you feel and think is eventually going to come back and bite all of us in the butt sometime in the future. I’d rather you just get it out and recognize . . . it’s okay. You’re normal.
So, will following everything I’ve laid out over four weeks make you more successful and well-liked? Probably not.
Oh, you’ll have the success part down. Because you’re going to be true to yourself.
The well-liked part? Well, that’s going to change, too. You see, by being true to yourself, your friends are going to change. And that’s likely a good thing in any event. You see, you’ve been making concessions and excuses for some of your friends for far too long and they’re just holding you back from the life of your dreams. Now that I’ve said it, I sound like an asshole, don’t I? But, it’s all true. And you know it.
There is one thing I will guarantee, if you don’t follow some of the advice I’ve given you, and you continue to focus on being “nice” rather than being a decent human being (read that as “kind”), you will eventually fail yourself and those around you. Then you will become bitter. And then you will move right past being an occasional asshole to being a flaming asshole. And we don’t want that now do we?
I don’t remember who said it, but there’s a saying that goes like this: To an asshole, the whole world is dark. I’m going to modify that just a bit for our purposes. To a flaming asshole, the whole world is dark. To an occasional asshole, the whole world is waiting to be illuminated.
You have lots of opportunities awaiting you. Burn with kindness.
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