Success: The Good Psychopath’s Guide
If you think about what a psychopath actually is, most people think that psychopaths are serial killers and rapists but actually when psychologists, like myself, talk about Psychopaths, we’re talking about a distinct subset of people with a distinct subset of personality traits, such as: charm, ruthlessness, fearlessness, coolness under pressure, focus, mental toughness, and resilience. Now, if you think about the kinds of qualities that you need to be a successful business person, you could have all the MBAs under the Sun, but if you don’t have the right kind of personality in order to enable you to operationalize your corporate skill set, you’re not going to make it in business.
So, imagine if you don’t have the ruthlessness to fire someone if they’re under performing, or if you don’t have the ability to take a calculated risk, when appropriate, you don’t have the mental toughness to bounce back if you suffer a setback, you don’t have the ability to focus and compartmentalize the issues that are very important, no matter how good a businessman you might be on paper, you’re not going to make it in the business world if you don’t have those personality characteristics. And those characteristics, that I’ve just outlined for you, are precisely the characteristics associated with the psychopathic personality.
A lot of people use the term ‘psychopath’ — they banded around with bosses that they don’t like, or bosses that have given them a hard time — but, actually, if you’re talking about clinically diagnosed psychopaths, that is very, very rare; it is a rare condition. I talk about psychopathy being on a spectrum, and there’s a lot of scientific evidence for that, but there’s no doubt, whatsoever, that people at the sharp end of that — the kind of, I guess, you could call ‘Champions League psychopaths’ — are very, very different from
the rest of us. Within the general population, there’s evidence to suggest that it’s around about three quarters to one percent within the general population. There is some evidence to suggest that it’s a little bit higher amongst heads of business and CEOs — anything up to four percent.
There’s three very simple psychopathic principles which can make an immediate effect in their everyday lives.
The first thing is to fail fast. So a lot of people — sounds crazy — a lot of people, are frightened of failure, but actually the quicker you fail, the quicker that you find out what is going to succeed. So don’t take failure personally, that’s the first thing I would say.
The second thing I would say is, decouple emotion from behavior. Most people think that, in order to be able to do something, you need to be able to feel like doing it. Well, if that was the case you would even get out of bed in the morning, alright, so none of us would be here right now. So, when you’ve got something difficult to do, like you’ve got to pick up the phone and give someone bad news, don’t keep putting it off, don’t procrastinate, because actually, all you’re doing is storing up the pain, aggregating the pain for later on. Next time you’ve got something to do, stop, think to yourself… “since when did I need to feel like this in order to do it?”, and then just crack on and do it.
And the third one is, just be a little bit more self-interested. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first. How many times has someone asked you to do something and you’ve looked in the diary and it’s clear, and you’ve said yes and it’s two or three months hence? Only for, when it comes round to the point where you’ve got to do it, it’s always the wrong time.
“Oh my god. Why did I agree to do that?”
Well here’s a way of stopping that happening and putting more fun in your diary. Next time someone asks you to do something in two or three months time, stop and think “would I drop what I’m doing tomorrow, in order to do that?”
“Is it interesting enough for me?”
“Is it beneficial enough for me?”
“Are they paying me enough for it?”
Because, in two or three months time, it will be tomorrow and you’re going to have to face exactly the same problem.
There’s three very simple psychopathic principles that will make a huge impact in both your personal and your professional life.
It will make you more confident
It will make you more efficient
and it will make you more effective.