Category Archives: Player Profiles

Player Profile – Saint Paul and What Psychopathy Can Do For You

I just returned from my weekly classical literature discussion group.  There, I posited that Saint Paul was a psychopath.  It seemed timely since Easter was only a couple days ago.  And behold, there was much push back.

Given that I have a blog or three, and the other guys don’t, I get the last word.

Psychopaths get a bad rap.  Of course, part of it is the name.  The word Psychopath rings darkly in the ears.  Perhaps a re-branding?   Summon the consultants…

Many of my personal heroes were functional psychopaths:  Patton, Churchill, Charlie Wilson.  Who else?  Astronauts score high on psychopathy tests, along with successful business execs, accomplished surgeons, great politicians (can’t think of any living politicians that fit that description), bomb disposal experts, SEALs, hedge fund tradres, and so on.

Most people think only of Killer Psychopaths.  Academic research reveals that the vast majority of psychopaths are socially functional like those above.  Their mental sharpness, charm, and lack of fear actually enable them to be outperformers in the cultural chaos that is the modern, secular, frenetically paced world.

The Persian poet Rumi claimed that “anyone who is calm and sensible is insane.”  Perhaps then, the socially functional psychopath is actually more sane than the average (boring, rule abiding, non-threatening, beta, risk averse) good citizen.

Manie sans delire,” or “mad without being mad,” as the Frogs say.

Let us consider all the admirable qualities of psychopaths.

They care not what others think of them.   Marked by  “shrewdness and agility of mind, they talk entertainingly and possess extraordinary charm.”  How about mental toughness, charisma, focus, persuasiveness, coolness under pressure, and “other such qualities that separate the men/women from the boys/girls.”  Foregoing emotional hangovers.  Stoicism, the ability to regulate emotion, to live in the moment, an altered state of awareness, to be heroic and selectively empathetic…

It might be said that psychopaths are marked by a lack of neurosis, that plague on today’s overstimulated consumer capitalists society, thus making them healthier than the average population.

What is functional psychopathy? Fair question.  Perhaps it can be defined as Fearlessness Minus Bad Decision Making Calibrated for the Social/Moral Context.  For our bizness purposes, that would be the We Win Together thing.  Since we are fellow travelers on this journey to business nirvana, we should consider a commonality shared by psychopathy and spiritual enlightenment:  “anchoring your thoughts unswervingly in the present, focusing exclusively, immediately, on the here and now, as a cognitive discipline.”

Now let’s get back to Saint Paul:  he sanctioned the death of an untold number of good, simple religious folk after their leader had been publicly executed.  In today’s world he’d be tried for genocide under the Geneva Convention.  To his ruthlessness, after seeing a light and hearing a voice, he added fearlessness, focus, drive, and charisma.  For the sake of the executed leader, he endured three ship-wrecks, 24 hours adrift at sea, multiple imprisonments totaling six years jail time, was brutally flogged many times including three times to 40-1 lashes, the max allowable to a Roman citizen, beaten by rods three times, and once stoned by a hysterical crowd and left for dead.  He confronts his new religion’s primary leader, Saint Peter, directly, calling him a hypocrite, which one academic characterizes as a “total failure of political bravado and Paul soon left Antioch as a persona non grata never to return again.”

Of course Paul did author several hundred pages of the best selling book of all time (the Bible), took his religion to Rome where eventually one of the Roman Emperors adopted it and the rest of Western Civ is History.  A functional, effective psychopath indeed.

What does this all have to do with Nice Guys trying to not finish last at the corporate game?  Well, you need an edge.  Maybe a little functional psychopathy in your life can help:

Leadership Traits as the Flip Side of the Psychopathic Coin:

Charismatic/Superficially Charming

Self-Confidence/Grandiosity

Ability to Influence/Manipulation

Persuasive/Con Artistry

Visionary Thinking/Fabrication of Intricate Stories

Ability to Take Risks/Impulsivity

Action Oriented/Thrill Seeking

Ability to Make Hard Decisions/Emotional Poverty

 

Wrapping this up, the Brits did a country-wide survey of their workforce called the Great British Psychopathic Survey (no really, not making this up).  Those scoring high on the scale were, in order:  CEOs, Lawyers, Media personalities, Salespeople, Surgeons, Journalists, Police Officers, Clergy, Chefs, and Civil Servants.

Low on the scale were Care Aides (low paid nurse), Nurses (higher paid nurse), Therapists, Craftspeople, Stylists, Charity Workers, Teachers, Creative Artists, Doctors, and Accountants.

What’s your ambition?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Player Profiles, Pyschopathy

Player Profile – Mr Scholar

A friend and reader asked me for advice in boosting his schmoozing game. Bro, game isn’t what you do or have, it’s who you are.

LOL. Cheeeeeezy.

So…this guy. Let’s call him the Scholar. He thinks and writes and speaks for a living about heady stuff. Within his organization he is beloved, where he is essentially a co-CEO. Outside, he is struggling to get traction. I think he’d like opportunities to think, write, and speak, for other organizations. To emerge as an industry thought leader.

There’s couple angles to take here. We could look at Framing, Attraction/Connection/Respect, or his Inner Game. In our conversation, I focused on the last one.

I told him to leverage his Masculinity and improve his Positivity.

He’s by all appearances a Macho Macho Man…but he doesn’t own it. So that’s incongruent. People wonder why he looks hard and feels soft. This creates cognitive dissonance. The bad, confusing kind (a solid player will sometimes create cognitive dissonance to his advantage). The result is people feel a bit odd in his presence. That unexplainable odd feeling subconciously pushes them away from him.

Better to own his masculinity.

He’s a big, dark skinned, vaguely-Italian bro with a sick goatee. He could easily pass for a Vato or an Iranian terrorist, depending on his sunglasses choice. As a Scholar, thinking big thoughts, and a man, he sometimes lacks empathy (a nice way of saying he doesn’t always get people). When he inadvertently offends, he should just call it out and move on.

That’s masculine: Honesty.

I gave Mr Scholar a reading assignment, since he likes that stuff: “Iron John” by Robert Bly.

Honesty about who you are, and honesty about what you are about, is very manly, and psychologically healthy. Bly calls it honoring your Inner King:

“The Inner King is the one in us who knows what we want to do for the rest of our lives, or the rest of the month, or the rest of the day. He can make clear what we want without being contaminated in his choice by the opinion of others around us. The Inner King is connected with our fire of purpose and passion.”

The scholar’s worry over his man-bear appearance and his lack of empathy breeds excessive caution and a general neurosis. In other words, negativity.

Now he’s got two strikes. Shame and Negativity.

Addressing the former, will over time, help cure the latter. But Negative Energy flow needs to be neutralized with extreme prejudice. Nothing kills your Schmooze Game more than negative energy.

My Scholar has amazing things to say. He’s one of the smartest, most reflective people I know. I love listening to him talk. But I’ve known him for years. Our bro love runs deep. Casual business acquaintances won’t so easily ignore the slight neurotic undertones.

Noobs, you need to know, nobody cares about your eloquent brilliance if they feel vaguely bad in your presence. Maya Angelou says it very well: “People remember how you make them feel, not what you tell them.”

Or Seneca, a leading Roman Philosopher who also ran the Empire while Nero partied: “Happy the man who improves other people not merely when he is in their presence but even when he is in their thoughts!”

Be that guy.

The Scholar’s desire to be a thought leader in his field could easily lead to over-emphasis on other’s opinions of himself. Better to be “that guy” for himself, for his own improvement. Not to improve his schmooze.

Be congruent with who you are, a positive you with healthy masculinity. Care not what others think, while remaining congruent with yourself and they will ultimately think better of you anyway.

Win Win.

Marcus Aurelius, another leading Roman Philosopher and perhaps Rome’s greatest Caesar at it’s zenith, strongly advises ignoring other’s opinions. Note the following is advice he gave himself in his journal.

“Do not waste the remaining part of your life in thoughts about other people, when you are not thinking in some aspect to the common good. Why deprive yourself of the time for some other task? I mean, thinking about what so-and-so is doing, and why, what he is saying or contemplating or plotting, all that line of thought, makes you stray from the close watch on your own ‘directing mind.’

No, in the sequence of your thoughts you must avoid all that is casual or aimless, and most particularly anything prying or malicious. Train yourself to think only those thoughts such that in answer to the sudden question ‘What is in your mind now?’ you could say with immediate frankness whatever it is, this or that: and so your answer can give direct evidence that all your thoughts are straightforward and kindly, the thoughts of a social being who has no regard for the fancies of pleasure or wider indulgence, for rivalry, malice, suspicion, or anything else that would blush to admit was in one’s mind.”

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Filed under Philosophy, Player Profiles