When I walked off the high school football field for the last time in October of 2010 I was feeling great about myself. While the team may not have had the ending that we’d desired, I had a great year. I was a team captain and defensive play caller, I lead the defense in tackles, and I was honored with being a First Team Big Nine Linebacker. I’d had success at sports and especially football my entire life. Fortunately, my success at the high school level resulted in a football scholarship from Northwood University. Shortly after that, I won the inaugural Betsy and Dick DeVos Entrepreneurial Scholarship. Couple those two events together and I was a young man riding on his high horse. Could I do any wrong? Absolutely not. Should I continue to take or even entertain the advice of others? No. At that point in time the hubris was starting to develop, and I wasn’t even consciously aware of it. It only became worse from that point on. I entered my first college camp that next summer believing I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was a violent linebacker with great natural instincts who was going to show these college players how it was done. I couldn’t have been more wrong about how great I thought I was. I was a boy playing amongst men at the collegiate level. Every single day that summer I was physically dominated. The extent at which I was being dominated could’ve been reduced if I had aggressively participated in my training schedule. The hubris was so advanced that I didn’t deem it necessary. I thought I could get away with it and still be good. Heck I could even be great! On my own terms, I started from behind and was never able to catch up. Since I wasn’t physically prepared, I suffered a knee injury wearing which ended my football career. I was devastated. What was even more devastating was knowing I could’ve prevented that outcome. Looking back on that experience as an eighteen-year-old young man it was an unfortunate situation. While it may have been unfortunate there was a necessary lesson to be learned. The lesson learned was that hubris creates complacency and complacency can become the silent killer. I was a victim of the silent killer.Abrasive personalities in the work place are very tricky. While abrasive personalities occasionally produce positive results and can be effective in their own ways, I don’t think abrasive personalities can be sustained in the workplace. The abrasive personality sooner or later becomes a cancer. Wearing and tiring it will eventually bring a person to their knees. Without appropriate treatment it will ultimately terminate the host in which it lives. With that being said, I want to make it clear that I do believe being abrasive at times is required. A specific example where I think it’s required is when people and or organizations become content and you see a high level of hubris. When the silent killer makes it way to your house, you must handle him in an abrasive way. The degree to how abrasive you must be is obviously conditional and must be strategic according to those conditions. This point brings me back to our first week of class. When forming your strategy on how to deploy abrasiveness you’ve got to understand your colleagues and their behaviors. If you fail to understand what it is that makes your colleagues tick and you try to deploy certain abrasive tactics you are putting yourself in a position that could very well have major consequences.
I believe to be a logical and reasonable person. Everyone is not perfect. We all have our shortcomings, especially when it comes to understanding different people. That’s why I think the paradox of excellence is vitally important and should be embraced by all leaders. Regrettably, many individuals in leadership will simply brush the paradox of excellence aside. Their pride gets the best of them and they are unable to accept their shortcomings because they’re afraid it’ll make them look weak amongst their subordinates and peers. Right around this time is when I think you see success plateau and if you’re unable to humble yourself and surround yourself with professionals who can either address the shortcomings or help you address your shortcomings you won’t succeed. To be frank, it’s in my opinion that the paradox of excellence is the cure the abrasive personalities in the work place. Humble yourself, understand your own limitations and that it’s completely natural, and bring in an Industrial–organizational psychologist(s) to help you or to be a part of your team. My father always said the more significant opinions you can surround yourself with the better the decision you’ll make. It’s your responsibility to be able to ground yourself so you can put yourself in that situation.