Writing a book is hard. I’m in the process of writing two of them simultaneously and, to my veteran book-writing associates, my hat goes off to you in a big way. Luckily, they’re on two different topics so if I get tired of one I just pick up the other.
The book being written as a professional passion is on the need, even importance, of either having or being a cynic is business. So we all understand each other, a cynic is someone who believes there is no truly selfless act–they believe everyone is motivated by some self-serving need or ulterior motive. George Carlin may have felt that a cynic was just a frustrated idealist, but I’d contend that of the two, a cynic is more likely to have done their research.
Side-stepping the issue of whether or not there is such a thing as a selfless act in the interest of blog post brevity, the book focuses first on the fact that you need cynics around. You need them around business because there are plenty of employees and leaders willing to send a business careening into the polished dental work of the proverbial gift horse. Cynics stop that path and say “wait, what? Nothing is this good.”
Make no mistake, I don’t want people to be spiteful or mean, and this is not to say that others on the team are illogical and rash. It’s more about playing the contrarian in a researched and intelligent way. There are many ways to do this, but becoming a master in the language of people’s motivation can be a good place to start.
Its also not escaped me that this is not a popular viewpoint. We want to reward the bold risk-taker. We want to see Indiana Jones and James Bond succeed despite having a plan or strategy. We want to believe that greatness isn’t only guaranteed to the bold and brave, it’s also easy. But we know its not easy.
So be a cynic. Be an idealist. Be something in between. Just remember that no business was built solely on the back of either. Which are you?