Life is just a series of lessons leading you to be the best, happiest version of yourself. Even jerks have something to teach us.
I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside many jerks throughout my career so have experienced firsthand the value they add to a company. Here are some important lessons I’ve learned (or re-learned) from interactions with assholes.
Lesson 1: Treat others how you wish to be treated.
We all grew up hearing this, but assholes exist to remind us the importance of this super simple life lesson. Their meanness hurts, and we should all use that hurt to remind us to be kind.
Lesson 2: The only thing to fear is fear itself.
Fear fuels jerkiness. People driven by fear are mean because they’re afraid - of change, of being inadequate, of failing, of a million other selfish reasons to be afraid. Ambition drives success. but power fuels jerks.
Also, assholes tend to climb ranks because others either fear them or are just as afraid.
Lesson 3: Teamwork makes the dreamwork.
Ever notice it’s the assholes who stop work from moving forward? They stop work from moving forward because their attitude isn’t open and inviting. Sure, they always offer to contribute something, but it’s usually criticism without any solutions or guidance. Kindness, consideration and respect lead to good work.
Lesson 4: Pick your battles.
This one is the hardest for me. I always want to make jerks see how they’re being assholes. But you know what? They don’t care. If someone is a jerk 90% of the time, accept it and plan your energy around it. Go out of your way not to engage. Don’t let their negative energy drain your energy. The battle just isn’t worth it.
Lesson 5: It’s not you, it’s them.
They’re a jerk because of battles they are losing with themselves, so don’t take it personally. Shrug it off and go do your best. We can only control our actions.
Lesson 6: Life isn’t fair.
Jerks become bosses. They get promotions and raises. Life isn’t fair. But you know what? They’re jerks because they’re unhappy. And because they’re unhappy, they’re probably looking at you thinking life isn’t fair either.
We’re all human and everything we experience can teach us how to be a better human. At the end of the day, only we get to decide whether to learn the lessons or be the jerk.