Written by: Laszlo Kovari
Yes, yes: we are irrational: we know this, but hey: this is life.
There is ALWAYS A VERY GOOD REASON behind 200 pairs of shoes in the wardrobe, behind hiring 53 highly compliant kids from Deloitte without life or any other experience but PP skills to “transform” our nation wide retail banking operation,
to finish off the night with one last glass of JD (after bottles of wine), to make that guy miserable because he questioned my authority, to check facebook updates in the middle of the night, not to hire a highly experienced woman returning from maternity leave into a team of inexperienced people, to enforce gender quotas across all industries and if possible across all countries, to put up with years of humiliations in order to build a career, to lie to clients to get projects, to comply with non-sense just for the sake of being compliant, to invest in a psychopath because he produced returns before, to start calling ourselves gurus or authorities, to try to change people for the better, to hire a personal brand coach, to take out a student loan, to pay $500,000 to get a shortlist of candidates for a CEO role only so we can choose the same type we always have, to take on a second mortgage, to “work the room” at schmoozing events, to watch TV, to use entertainment as currency, to ADMIRE business “leaders” for their accomplishments in terms of the market share or ebitda they achieved…and the list continues indefinitely, you get the point.
Marcus Aurelius had felt the need to spell it out that people who do not act according to reason are not any different from animals. He went on to compare people who care only about feeding, clothing and housing themselves to “well fed animals”! Strong words from a man who chose his words carefully. Before his time (2nd century AD) this maxim did not have to be spelled out, it was still obvious to most.
Today being irrational is considered to be either fun or something unchangeable; and the worst thing is that in most areas of life and in most actual situations acting rational is considered to be UNDESIRABLE !
It takes intelligence and courage to go against the current, but hey: why would we do it any other way?
Enough philosophy, here is a non-exhaustive list of things that happen when you start thinking and acting rational:
1. You start questioning conventions. With time this will expand to more and more areas of life: about food, about fitness, about your job, your company or your business, about people, education, experts, etc. You will stop asking (and paying) personal branding coaches about questions of authenticity, celebrities about food, collectors about art, doctors about treatment, psychologists about identity, business fanatics about how to live, real estate agents about investments in real estate, Tony Robbins about how to motivate yourself, preachers about spirituality, your boss about your career, your banker about your goals, etc.
You will not accept anything on face value just because of the source. No matter who says what, you will run it through the lens of your own reason and examine things from all angles and develop you own, independent opinion. You critically read authors you respect but you also read authors you disagree with with an open mind and recognize the value in their work. The same goes to how you listen to and how you reward or acknowledge people.
2. Your values will change. You’ll stop confusing bigness with greatness and this will affect your style. You’ll return (get) to the classics: you’ll ditch Warhol and Hirsh for Goya and maybe you’ll ditch Goya for the icons of nameless masters, Pink and Madonna for Beethoven and blogs like this for Plato, etc. You will introduce more quality and eliminate more quantity, developing a sense for the middle way. You’ll eat a little when you’re hungry, drink when the occasion allows, buy stuff that you CONSIDER to be necessary. You will choose your friends based on their virtues, you will give no attention to the show and to the facade and DECIDE who deserves your respect wisely. The same goes the other way around: you’ll recognize how little acknowledgement, fame and prestige means to you and how much value you see in being able to act based on your conviction; how little value you see in “visualizing your new car or house” that your “mind will bring into your reality” “if you just desire it with all your being” and how much value you see in just doing the right thing now with no emotional attachment, hope for gains or fear of consequences.
3. You will be able to differentiate more and more: between words and intentions, between patterns and words, discerning the reasons behind actions, between art and entertainment, between quality time and sheer stupidity, between the genius and the talented. On a more practical level you will recognize the crook behind the polished consultant, your great future employee behind the terrible candidate, the guy who can’t pitch that good now but who WILL deliver on your investment, the client you need to fire and the ones with great potential, etc….AND you will not accept substitutes and you will not make exceptions: why on earth would you?
4. This last one is in a way a synthesis of the first 3 points: you will slow down, talk less, take time out, eliminate activities that don’t make sense. You will keep a bigger distance but your relationships will become richer and fear will gradually lose its grip on you.