One of my favorite lines from Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movies was, “Man’s got to know his limitations.” This implies a person can get in trouble if he tries to go beyond his scope of expertise. For example, I have a good idea of how to structure and organize things in business, but I’m a lousy electrician and plumber, which is why I tend to leave such tasks to others as I can only do a mediocre job of them at best. Maybe it’s a left-brain, right-brain kind of thing, but I think it’s important we understand our strengths and weaknesses and live our lives accordingly.
It disturbs me though when I see someone who obviously does not grasp his limitations and tries to be something he is not, and you see a lot of this in all walks of life, both personally and professionally. For example, we’ve all seen people who have risen above their level of competency at work and end up screwing things up not only for themselves, but for others around him as well. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to rise above our station in life, but we have to be smart enough to know our limitations.
Some people refuse to acknowledge this and, instead, create a facade about them to act as a smoke screen to blur the truth about themselves. As a small example, men who lose hair will wear wigs or get hair transplants in order to look younger and more virile, not just to attract the opposite sex but to project a certain image at work. Hair coloring, breast augmentation, face lifts, and other cosmetic surgery is done more for facade than anything else, they certainly do not make you smarter or enrich your business skills. You are what you are, and sooner or later people will wise up to you. Facade only delays the inevitable discovery, which might just be enough time to accomplish your objective and move along to the next one. Nonetheless, people who rely on facade possess a deep-seated embarrassment about themselves and probably suffer from an inferiority complex.
Age alone doesn’t imbue us with any supplemental skills either, only education, training or experience does. Seniority is meaningless if the person has not enhanced their skill set. Yet, we often see people promoted at work simply because of age, not expertise. Age does not necessarily mean entitlement.
I may be far from perfect but I believe I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and have no problem walking around in my skin. It is beyond me how people not in touch with their limitations do it. Then again, maybe they know their limitations too well and draw upon facade to mask them. Somehow, Lincoln’s observation comes to mind, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
In other words, I know a lot of people who could use a dose of humility.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.