Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why smart people do dumb things

You might think that smart people are, well, smart. Yet even the very smart, famous, powerful, and rich who should obviously know better end up crashing and burning. Mortimer Feinberg, author of Why Smart People Do Dumb Things: Lessons from the New Science of Behavioral Economics has four main reasons:
Pride to the point that you no longer feel shame, no longer believe that you are subject to public opinion, and no longer need to fear “the gods.” Examples: Gary Hart’s involvement with Donna Rice that ended his run for the presidency and the Dennis Kozlowski’s (Tyco) $2 million toga party.

From the Latin word arrogare: “to claim for oneself.” Arrogant people believe they have claim to anything and everything they want--they are “entitled” to it. King David, for example, felt entitled to the wife (Bathsheba) of one of his soldiers. Modern day King Davids feel entitled to corporate jets and an entourage to tell them that their keynote speech rocked.

Self absorption to the point that you are blind to reality. The world only exists to provide you gratification. Examples: Richard Nixon and Watergate; the Clintons and Whitewater—really just about every politician and CEO who falls from grace.

Unconscious need to fail
If you think failing is hard, try winning. The questions that go through people’s minds when they they are on the doorstep of success are: Do I really deserve to win? Do I want the pressure of constantly having to win in the future? Can I really handle success? Perhaps this explains why professional athletes still take performance enhancement drugs even after watching their colleagues get busted.
Let's see how the smart people in charge of our provincial government work things out.

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