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April 19, 2009

The mistake of believing your own BS...

Arrogancean attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions - (Miriam-Webster online Dictionary)

A recent post on Seth's Blog  has prompted me to write about an encounter I had the other day with one of the leading consulting figures in the world. (Amazing how often that happens actually)

This guy was obviously having some major troubles with LinkedIn. An older guy, he couldn't come to terms with it, didn't understand some of the basic functionality, and really couldn't work out how to sift the wheat from the chaff  and get great value from it.

I have read some of his stuff over the years, and it was helpful - so I reached out to him. I mentioned I have made around $300,000  through contacts made with high level clients. (from my other career in engineering) I offered to advise him on some of the techniques that I have been able to use to maximize my presence there.

It was the least I could do I thought. We had exchanged various emails previously, so I thought nothing of sending the note.

The response left me gob smacked and wondering why this character had achieved the success he has done.

Basically he accused me of lying, and told me in no uncertain terms that he didn't want my help.

No "thanks but no thanks" and no realization or admission that there might be something that he has missed. Something that somewhere near 38 million others may have an idea about.

No skin off my nose, but he lost a fan, a proponent, and someone who others trusted to refer them to good materials on subjects related to consulting.

The real thing that stood out to me, and has stood out to me for years if I am honest, is that he has reached his limitation in terms of growth of his professional career. His writing is all regurgitated from one book to another, and he has fallen for one of the greatest traps of people like us.

When you get to advise the leaders of industry for several years, you have to be very careful not to start believing your own BS. You have to make sure you realize that with a networked world like it is today, it will only take a handful of disgruntled people to start to cut into your aura of invincibility.

Arrogance is probably the least attractive of character traits. It shows a disdain for those around you, and limits your ability to continue to grow.

But most of all, it attracts sycophants while driving away thoughtful people. And there have been more than enough examples of what happens when you are surrounded by nodding heads only.