It has come to my attention that not everyone in the world finds me lovable and agreeable. Some people have suggested I may be rude and insensitive. Heck, some people even hate me outright.
Good. Please go on. Please hate me more. In fact, here’s something to spur your hate on: your mother has a foul stench and likely lays with sheep.
Are your feelings hurt yet? Well, I don’t really care. I care only for myself and what benefits me.
“You’re a Cynical Bastard!”
Why, thank you! I’m glad you noticed.
You see, I truly don’t care about you. I care about myself and by extension those closest to me. Your usefulness ends the second you stop being useful to me, and I need you to hate me.
I don’t need you to tell me that I’m smart, handsome, well-spoken, or charismatic. It’s like telling me the sun is going to rise tomorrow. I already know what my strengths are and I have an ego that, well, really doesn’t need to grow any bigger.
What I need is to grow, to learn, and to be what I am not. Humble, for example. Everything I am not is an opportunity missed.
I’m not looking for constructive criticism, even, I want you to attack me, to hate me so much that you point out every weak spot I have, gladly in public. Make it sting, make me embarrassed. Hurt my feelings.
And every time you do, you will make me stronger.
B, the Masochist?
I believe that it is not what you manage to do that kills you, but what you fail to do. Sure, it’s great to be able to draw breath every few seconds, but it is when you stop breathing that the trouble begins. It’s when you drive too fast that you fail to control your car and hit a tree. It is when you don’t get that foothold that you plummet to your death in a mountain.
Yes, I’ve read the arguments against this idea many times (and reading is one of my weak sides, by the way). People, apparently, need recognition for accomplishments and to have their strengths acknowledged. Although I fully understand the arguments, they don’t apply to me, and to be honest, I believe that they are only valid in a statistical way, in that, on average, people need to have a balance of ‘focus on weakness’ versus ‘acknowledge strengths’. Well, I’m not average, and I don’t think average is a goal for which anyone should strive.
Take birthdays as a typical example. What a silly idea. The only accomplishment is drawing breath around 7,8 million times in a row. When drawing breath is a problem, I can understand the need to celebrate, but most of the time, it’s a matter of celebrating someone for no other reason than, well, being there for a year more.
I don’t celebrate my birthdays, not because I’m getting older and thinking of just _how_ old I am makes be depressed, but because I don’t see why there is anything to celebrate. I haven’t done anything in particular to warrant an annual celebration. In fact, regardless of whether I was put away in jail for robbing a bank, or if I had spent the past year healing sick puppies back to life would make no difference for the cause of celebrating ‘birthday’.
If You Heal Puppies, People Will Love You!
If I were healing sick puppies back to life, people would probably cheer me on for doing that. However, I’m not interested in cheering. Why wouldn’t I heal _more_ puppies? Why didn’t I set up a clinic for sick puppies? Why didn’t I invent better methods of healing puppies quicker and more efficient? Those are the type of weaknesses that I want to overcome.
You may think that’s a weird example, and that nobody would attack someone healing sick puppies for not healing enough puppies. However, the situation is much closer to reality than you think.
In 2008, I spent a lot of time writing and teaching people what I had learned about SharePoint, in this blog, in online forums, and whenever I met SharePoint professionals. People emailed me all the time with questions and I used those questions to learn even more about SharePoint. When someone asked something, I could easily spend a day researching the problem to provide a comprehensive solution.
However, at some point, I wasn’t able to answer everyone. The number of new people entering the scene and needing more information was simply too great. So, people started complaining that I didn’t help enough, or didn’t help fast enough, or comprehensive enough. It was a weakness in the model, people complained, so I had to come up with a solution.
The first result was USP Journal. To date, I’ve written 17 books and journals on SharePoint, addressing needs of tens of thousands of readers, rather than the few hundred people I would be able to help if I had stuck with the ‘old’ model. Through those endless complaints, nagging, and outright bitching, I was able to go beyond the problem that was preventing me from exceeding the limitations I previously had.
I receive and have received a lot of ‘thanks’ and ‘great work’ comments, messages, and emails for the journals. However, I’m not trying to portray myself as a hero here, because that wouldn’t in any way be true. I do what I do because it benefits me, some way or another. If that happens to benefit someone else as well, then all the better, but frankly, that’s a distant second on the priority scale. My only priority is to find my own weaknesses and eliminating them.
What I want is for people to tell me how much I suck. What I do wrong, and how I’m clearly incapable of getting dressed in the morning without written instructions, or better yet, an illustrative video. That tells me far more than how much one of my articles or books have helped you, because honestly, I don’t care.
To me, the reward of not sucking anymore is the best reward I can get. I don’t even need people to tell me I don’t suck anymore, I can usually figure that out myself, but if you’re so damn eager to give me compliments, at least acknowledge what I overcome that was blocking my path earlier.
Is There a Point To All This?
Well, yes, thanks for asking.
I had a discussion with one of the wisest people I know, in which we argued, among other things, whether focusing on strengths or eliminating weakness was the best approach to growth. We didn’t agree, which is fine as long as I’m right. However, the discussion lead me to realize something important.
You suck. No, really, you’re god-awful at something. Of course you are, everyone is, and I’ll expose that weakness in you. I’ll tell you exactly how little you truly understand, and how wrong you are in your claims. I’ll let you know why your writing style sucks, how your technical skills must improve, and how you’ll die if you don’t draw breath one more time. Whatever it is, I will find it, and expose it in such a way that you truly feel the pain of sucking so bad.
You’ll probably hate me for it, you’ll think I’m hurting your feelings, you’ll want to curse my mother back. You’ll post photo manipulated images of my face superimposed on top of one of the lemon party dudes. You’ll talk shit about me to anyone you meet, calling me rude, cruel, insensitive, and un-empathic, because those are terms you think will hurt me back.
Provided you have a brain, you’ll attack and expose my weaknesses, and I can grow. If you don’t have a brain, you’ll make mindless comments that will have no meaning to anyone, or you’ll lie about me, or make it clear to anyone that you don’t understand why you’re being criticized, confirming my claim that you are a mindless idiot and don’t understand what I say to you because I use words that impose some kind of rage in you. I win either way.
Every time it’s in my best interest, I will still expose your weaknesses. I will bully you, taunt you, dare you in public to make a stand, because if you can’t stand for what you believe, then sit down and shut up, and that’s your first weakness, right there.
In the end, however, I do what I do to hold you to the same standards I hold myself. Not until I hate my weaknesses so much that I do something about it, am I satisfied. Not until you hate so much what is holding you back that you do something about it will you get rest.
Because when those weaknesses are gone, you’re left with more strength and you’ve learned how to overcome your weakness. That benefits me, because if you are stronger, you can make me stronger.
I hate you.
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