I was called retarded when I was six years old and was placed with the other “special” kids— some sweetest kids.
Ms. Gore, my teacher, would grab my pudgy cheeks and exclaim, “You’re so cute!”
I didn’t speak English, so adults would yell LOUDER at me as if a higher volume would help me understand the words better.
I felt so ashamed that I vowed right then to speak English better than most other Americans— even though I was born in Dayton, Ohio.
A few years later, in 1988, I represented California in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.
And I became a public speaker on stages across the world.
Yet even today, someone talked down to me in ALL CAPS AND BOLD in an email, treating me like an idiot, just like Ms. Gore 40 years ago.
That hurt, opening up an old wound.
And I remember how so many people are arrogantly ignorant, like a guy farting up a storm and his sense of smell not working.
He confidently struts into every room, farting all over people, not realizing the calamity he’s causing.
Some people might think the moral of the story is to make sure you’re right before flexing your biceps.
But I think it goes deeper than the Dunning-Kruger Effect (a powerful concept that explains confident idiots and humble experts).
Instead, it’s about empathy to help others grow, no matter where they are.
Before you declare your opinion to others, be sure you have some credibility.
Therefore, make sure you are reliable and helpful before sharing your viewpoint with others, as you will have some credibility.
I’m grateful for the arrogant idiots who motivated me to become better and never stop learning.
Maybe someone is a “thorn” in your life, as a sign that it’s time to level up and prove them wrong.
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.