Friday, July 07, 2017

How to become the right amount of dick

Yes, I am going to use the word dick in the piece. Sorry if it upsets your delicate sensibilities. If it really bothers you, substitute the word poohead, or very assertive person, or whatever you come up with. However, very assertive person is a pretty subjective, but everyone knows when someone's being a dick.

This concept has been rolling around in my head for a decade or so, but I never heard it spoken in a way that connected with me. This complex concept need a catchphrase. Something short and relatable; something people could easily understands.

I heard this catchphrase two months ago while watching a PBS show at 4:00 in the morning. I won't bore you with the details of sleep deprivation due to fracturing your patella, but let's just say four hours of sleep was about average back then.

The show is called Roadtrip Nation. It's about three young, college aged people traveling through the country, talking to people who are successful in the fields the travelers are studying. In the episode I watched, they meet Ben Kaufman, a guy who started his first million dollar company at age 19. He's a funny, driven, all or nothing kind of guy. The kind of guy I'd enjoy spending a day with. He's also the kind of guy I would probably strangle if I had to spend four days on a road trip, stuck in a car with this guy.

When asked by the three college students what's the best general advice he could give them, he paused and said, "I'm probably going to get in trouble for this, but.... find the right amount of dick."

You could see the strange smirks on the student's faces, as they tried to figure out what he meant.
He went on to say there are three kinds of people; some who are not enough dick, some that too much dick, and those who are the right amount of dick.

He explained those who are not enough dick go with the flow, they let the world bully them around and tell them what direction their life is going to go. Then there are those who are too much dick. They might be successful, but no one wants to work with them because they're abrasive and arrogant. In the middle, you have people who are the right amount of dick. These people fight for the things they believe in, care about the people around them, and pick their battles, knowing when to let the small stuff slide.

That is such great advice.

When I was younger, I was not enough dick. I went with the flow, I let people plan and run my life. After being out on my own and succeeding on my own terms, through my own efforts, I became more confident in myself. That self-confidence is crucial in finding that right amount of dick. I knew who I was, and that knowledge gave me permission to be a little more of a dick.

If your self-confidence is low, it's hard to stand up for yourself in business, in relationships, or in any aspect of your life. It also works the other way. If your self-confidence is low you can try to make up for it by being too much dick.

So do you have to be an old guy like me to find that right combination of assertiveness and diplomacy? No, I don't think so. I believe you can find this self-confidence by knowing yourself. I mean, really knowing yourself.

Self-awareness is the key to self-confidence. You have to strip away the layers of BS you tell yourself. About your past, about the way you think the should work, and get down to the real you.

Are you a good person? Do you constantly hurt other people's feelings? Do you do the same wrong things again and again? Are you trust worthy? Do you do what you say you are going to do? Do you think about other people's situations before you act or speak?

This is a no excuse zone. It's not a "What I'd like to think of myself as" assessment, it's a "What do I do in real life" assessment.

If you've never done this kind of real self-assessment, this kind of looking at yourself from the outside like a stranger would see you, then you should do this immediately. You might have some very interesting, very honest conversations with some close friends and family.

If you come up with a good, honest self assessment, you can then look at how much of a dick you are.

If you are a not enough dick, you must become more assertive. Start by saying no to things that are not a priority. Don't give an explanation, just say no. It's hard, but you can do it. Stand up for the people and things you believe in. You are the person in charge of your life. No one else is going to care about your happiness the way you will. Being even a little bit of a dick may be something you never thought was acceptable. But it's okay to be the right amount of dick. Not all the time, and not with malice, but embrace it and move on. You'll be a lot happier.

If you are too much of a dick, take a look at how you see the world, and how you see yourself.  Ask yourself; do I have to be right every time? Do I have to have things my way all the time? Do I have to live in a world where everyone and everything is my way or it's automatically wrong? If so, you are going to be awful lonely at the end of your life. You might even be very successful, but you are going to burn through jobs, coworkers and/or employees at a blistering rate. You will consistently run through friends, alienate family, fight with your neighbors, and have an ever growing list of people I used to like, but now I can't stand. But it will be okay, because you'll be right!

So, here is the question I want you to ask yourself. Am I the right amount of dick? At home? At work? In all aspects of my life?

If you asked your family or coworkers/boss/employees this question and they answered honestly, what do you think they would say?

That balance is out there folks, you can find it. But you have to know where you are on that dick scale to start.