“If you are doing big things, you attract big men. If you are doing little things, you attract little men. Little men usually cause trouble… [pauses, shakes head sadly]… We are having an awful lot of trouble”. Those were the words and gestures of a former French prime minister.
The fact that you attract big people to yourself when doing big things does not mean that you would automatically get rid of the small people in your life, who were there prior to.
As a matter of fact, they would want to drag you down to stay with them, just like crabs in a bucket (if there’s any truth to that expression) because your pursuit of greatness reveals their indolence. You’re holding up a mirror right in front of them, with an image of who they too could be. And that image, as pretty as it may be, is a threat to their comfort. “So, why can’t everyone just remain comfortable?” And down you go, as they pull you!
Part of rising to greatness involves snipping some of these people out of your life, or at least putting them at arm’s length. Don’t stay too close, don’t be tempted to please them against your desires, if not you’ll never get on to doing big things.
Thankfully, John C. Maxwell in his book “Developing the Leader Within You” helps us to identify such people by categorizing them into ten kinds. Let’s take a quick look at each.
This is the leader who either lacks vision or the ability to successfully pass it on. These ones limit the rise or success of those following them. If you report to someone in the office who doesn’t constantly try to look for ways to improve on certain processes that you’ve been stuck with since you worked with them, or that shuts you down anytime you seem to want to “re-invent the wheel”, then you might be stuck with a limited leader and your possibility for growth is stunted.
A concrete thinker has a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset. They are those kinds of people that tell you “you can never do that”, “you can never be president”, “my child is going to grow up to be a very shy boy. That’s his personality”. They judge your future based on what they see now. They never assume that it is possible to learn new things, grow and change. And, as a result, they also don’t believe that they themselves can achieve anything past what they currently have. Their minds are mixed up and permanently set, just like concrete.
“To be absolutely certain about something, one must either know everything or nothing about it. Most of the time, the dogmatist knows nothing but conventionally says something”.
These are those who say things like “everything that can possibly be created has been created”. And they are usually considered experts in the fields in which they make such bold statements. That makes them dangerous because everybody believes them (for a while, that is). The father of the Wright brothers –the guys who invented, built and flew the world’s first successful airplane –was a bishop, who was once so angry with a Physics professor that he sputtered “Nonsense! Only angels are intended to fly”, as the professor disagreed with his statement that everything about nature had been discovered and all inventions conceived; by suggesting that men would be able to fly in fifty years from then.
These are those that constantly let one past (bad) experience prevent them from trying anything new and taking risks. They also prevent those around them from trying, by reminding them how they’ve “tired that before, and it doesn’t work”. They play the game of life ‘not to win’ and hopefully not to lose either. But tell me, if you’re not winning in life, what exactly are you then doing?
These people are usually good people, jolly-good-fellows, and they like to keep it that way. They have reached a certain level of achievement –perhaps they were the first to graduate from university in their family, or they got a good job they never thought they could get, or they have a certain lifestyle that everyone around them and even them know could be upgraded, but they are just comfortable where they are. They neither want their feathers ruffled nor their cages rattled. They are the crabs that drag you down when you’re rattling their cages by going for something big in life. Comfort is their watchword.
“That’s the way we’ve always done it”. You must have heard that a lot at your workplace. They are words that come from the tradition lovers’ mouths. These are people that love the lull of a system, even though it’s not serving them optimally. They fear change so much that they would attack anyone suggesting, to them, ways to improve their lives.
These are those that never feel comfortable stepping out of a crowd. They do what everyone else is doing, even if what they are doing is wrong. Their basis for making a decision is “how many people are doing it?” “What are the ratings on that movie? How many people said it was good?”
They make their decisions based on popular opinion rather than on what we call common sense, and they cajole you into joining them, joining the crowd.
I remember one time I was organizing a fund raising project for an orphanage with a sizeable group of participants. To my amazement (because that was my first time) the number of people who got up just to say why they thought this and that would not work, far outnumbered those who made valuable contributions and proposed solutions.
Some people just seem to have problems for every solution you offer them. Frankly, it’s not worth your time arguing and convincing them that it can be done. Just prove it to them by actually doing it and you’ll see how they’ll shut up and either join you in the cause, or quietly disappear. That was my experience on that project.
The world literally has to stop for these people. They are those who are concerned only about themselves, what they can get, who will get it for them, and how they can keep what they get. My former boss would jokingly say “get all you can, can all you get, and then sit on the can”, as he described such people.
Remember that give-and-take, win-win relationships are the best to have as they improve all parties involved. Don’t feed the parasites, don’t offer yourself to be sucked dry.
To these ones, their outlook is always gloomy, times are always bad, and money is always tight. And you know this because of the words you hear them speak –always negative. They’re putting in an application for a job and say “I know I won’t get it, but let me just apply”. Just as they program their lives for negative with the words they speak, so will they program yours if you constantly hang around them and saturate yourself with those negative words.
They tell you how bad the economy is and is predicted to be, and convince you not to start that new venture you’re thinking of now –and can’t even come with the best time for you to start in order to be successful at it.
A Chinese proverb adequately describes where these ten kinds of people should be in your life: “Man who says, ‘It cannot be done’ should not interrupt man who is doing it.”
So, don’t let yourself get interrupted. Keep on doing big things, attracting big people into your life, and doing all that you can to avoid these ten kinds of people. You’ll inevitably stand out from the crowd, as all leaders eventually do.