The Asshole and the Mediocre

It struck me recently that those who accomplished the most throughout history are pretty bad people by today’s standards.

And even more disturbing, it may continue that way.

Who gets respect in this world, is what I’m asking.

  • Great Britain (no description needed)

  • Merica (we’ve done some pretty abhorrent shit)

  • China

  • France

  • Spain

  • Etc.

Basically, if you’re any sort of conqueror or pioneer or explorer, or even a mold-breaker, you’re likely to be the type of person who:

  1. Treats people badly

  2. Communicates poorly (rudely)

  3. Outright doesn’t care about anything but their own particular drive or ambition or goal

  4. Is willing to murder between tens and millions of people

  5. Is a sociopath

  6. Etc.

Not everyone, of course. There are some disciplines, like art and science, where you can get recognized by being fairly beta. But in most of the world you get respect, and plaques, and buildings named after you, for being an asshole.

Then there’s the whole bit about women being highly attracted to jerks as well. Which makes sense. Alpha type assholes tend to be more outgoing, more funny (?), and more willing to step on others to get ahead.

Evolutionarily speaking, people like winners, and people with the qualities above tend to win at things. So while people might cringe while liking that person, they like them just the same. It’s usually just mixed in with something else, like jealousy, or disdain. It’s why so many C-level execs are sociopaths (look it up).

Another point worth mentioning here is how being nice harms one’s chances at greatness. I think the issue is that if you are both deeply concerned about offending people and doing the right thing at all times, as well as highly perceptive and interested in what people think, then you have significantly limited your options for action.

Basically, once you’ve limited yourself to only actions that won’t offend anyone, you’ve also limited yourself to actions that result in mediocrity.

So what does that say about the world? It’s pretty damning on the part of the onlooker, in my opinion. We enjoy throwing morality stones at this person, but when they come into a room most cower and placate. And when asked what team they want to be on, they hope it’s on THAT GUY’s team.

I’m cautious of people who too quickly flash the evolutionary psychology card, but this seems to be a clear case of evolution silently controlling our behavior. When in doubt about a particular behavior, look to mating strategy and competition first. It’ll often yield fruit.

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