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Bitch mindset: when success only make you a bigger bitch

I was thinking about this old story, and I wanted to share it with you.

The gist of the story is this:

Achieving success with a bitch mindset only makes you a bigger bitch

Taking care of your values and mental development should precede any personal success you can obtain.
And if you had to choose between "success" as it's defined by society or personal growth, personal growth probably takes the crown 9 times out of 10.

What's Bitch Mindset

I define "bitch mindset" here in two ways:

1. Seeking approval from others

for those who've been around here, this means that you elect others to be your "judge". That means you give power away, never truly control yourself and your life, and that you're never truly (emotionally) free, but always dependent on others.

That's why an approval-seeking mindset only makes you a bigger bitch when you got more success: you got more to bitch about.

2. Status above personal values = dickhead behavior

Seeking status is normal and even good. But as for many things, there is a sweet spot, and extremes become toxic.

Extremes like this guys lead to nasty social climbing and net value-taking behavior that, for simplicity, could be summed up with the catchphrase of "being a dickhead", which also makes you generally act rather low quality (remember the difference between "value/quality": one can be high-value, think of Trump, while still not being the highest possible quality human being)

Now let's delve into the story proper.

How I knew He Was A Bitch

There were several instances that confirmed his bitchness.

But the first one was all I needed to assess him.

So we'll stick to that one:

Several years ago now there was a Meetup event where one of our bosses was speaking. So I decided to stay and show some support because he was a cool guy, and because it was also good for my career (plus the networking opportunity, and the drinks and food).

In that event, I met the protagonist of our story.
I had seen a few times before, but never spoke to. After all, I was new, and he was new as well.

So I asked in which venture he was in.
He said he was in what was the digital publishing venture, so I said:

Me: Oh, cool man! Are you a writer?

In hindsight and with more experience, this was a small mistake from my side.
But it wasn't too bad, also because I framed my question in a value-giving format.

And this was his reply:

Him: (haughty attitude, & very serious) No. I got others writing for me

Immediate bitch.

In a professional environment, for a "high-ranking" guy, I can't think of many more expressions that would turn you into an immediate bitch quicker than that.

Now, stop for a second, and think: what was it that makes him a bitch?
After all, both his delivery and his words were high power.

So, why was it a bitch move?

In brief:

  1. He felt the need to brag: he hated the idea he could be "mistaken" for a normal employee, and had to immediately make clear he was "far more"
  2. He elected me into a judge position: he wanted my approval. He didn't even know me, but felt the need to parade his rank to me. I had no status whatsoever back then, and was professionally very low down. So if he needed to do that with me, what did it say about him?
  3. He "social climbed in absentia": think of what "others" and "write for me" say in his reply. He is pushing all of his writing team down. Those "others" "working for him" weren't even there, and he used them as "social pegs". He framed them as low value adding writers doing the actual work "for him"
  4. Value-taking type of leader: that's the type of "leader" who's in that position for one reason only: WIFM. What's in it for him is his need for approval, his social status, and his bragging rights. It's no shame that a leader must also seek what's in it for him: leadership is also a form of social exchange, after all. But if that's only what he seeks, even at the cost of shaming his own team, then that's the type of leader you never want.

I later found out he worked at Goldman Sachs, and was one of the founders of the venture -or "founder" within a company-incubator, which is not a "real" founder, but let's leave that out for now-.

On paper, he had a good pedigree.

Which leads me to the last point:

The Fatal Mistake of Self-Promotion

Think of what he said, plus the environment.

Now only he showed his hand for being a bitch, but he also committed a fatal mistake in self-promotion.

In most situations, bragging removes some value, while also adding some value back by parading something good about you (whether it's net loss or net gain depends on the situation)

Not in this case.
In this case, it was a total loss with no added value.

Why not?

If you've gone through PU, you read about this.
But I think it's also in the free article in the blog.

Can you spot what was the self-promotion mistake?

Why his haughty bragging added no value whatsoever in this case?

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think he forgot to display good qualities: bassically he bragged about being a proud-value taker.

?

My answer:

Because by bragging at the first question it made him come across as thinking himself as superior to you. Plus he answered "No", which is rapport-breaking. So basically pushed you away twice as you were handing out an open hand. He sub-communicated: "you're wrong" and "I'm better than you". So, "one-up" and "push back". He postured as you and him not belonging to the same group.

You're both right.

Here what I was also alluding to:

Bragging almost always removes some value for the simple fact that it says "I want to show off to you".
However, it can often add some value back if what you're bragging about is indeed a good trait/skill/achievement or possession you've got.

That's why "bragging" evolved, probably: it did add some value, at least some of the times.

Take these examples:

Guy: Cool, you look smart for a bar man, what's your deal
Stef: Taking some edge off. I work hard, I'm a hotshot lawyer. Lots of work, but lots of money, too

or:

Guy: Ehehe cool man, cheers, seems like you know lots of people, you work here or something?
John: Not really, I'm a doctor at a top private clinic here, those were just the nurses working for me

Both time "guy" would be thinking: "hmmm, that was unnecessary to add about the money and the nurses working for him but hey, he definitely has status and a good position in society".

In this case, bragging adds some value because, if you didn't say, "guy" would have never known.

But...

... Our Beloved MD Bragged For Nothing

So in our beloved bitch MD case, he would have at least gained some points for his status/rank.

However, that was unneeded because we were working in the same environment.
It would have taken me a couple of days, or a week top to realize who he was and what his rank was.

And if I never realized, it would have meant that I was so clueless and outside the hierarchy, that impressing me shouldn't have even mattered.

In the above cases, it's as Stef and John were bragging to a paralegal fresh in his firm, or John to another pediatrician in another hospital: it would have taken them just a little bit longer to find out who they were on their own.

So one of the principles of self-promotion is: never brag to someone who will hear about your status / value from other sources. Because sharing your value through personal bragging incurs a cost, but spreading your value through other sources has the same gains -or more-, without the costs.

Same Scene, With High-Quality, Socially Smart Guy

Now let's go back to that eventful night.

And imagine if this had happened:

Me: Oh, cool man! Are you a writer?
Him: Well, not exactly, but I actually love writing, that's how I ended up here, in a way. Problem is, I'm just terrible at it ehehe. Maybe I'll learn some though. How about you man, how did you end up here.

From there, he could have bridged to what I do there, which is a far smoother way of getting to know my "rank" within the hierarchy.

Then, a few days later, I would have known he was a managing director from someone else.

And I would have thought: "shit, and he was so cool about my little faux pas, he even listened to me instead of talking about himself. What a winner that guy is."

John Freeman and Stef have reacted to this post.
John FreemanStef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thats why people and corporations secretely hire or fund a third party to do the bragging for them as if it were the third party independent opinion!

A favorite tactic of Edward Bernay...

Also you always looks mightier in their eyes if they discover your talent/power by themselves (you can orchestrate it from the shadows so as to make sure that they end knowing about it in the end)

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano