Am I an A**hole?

The No Asshole Rule By Robert Sutton

Am I an a**hole?

Readers of my blog typically stick up for me and speak to the respect, passion, and compassion I try to provide through my blog. It's definitely a persona that I project and one that I try to work to perfect each day. Blog posts have the advantage of pre-planning (although in the past, I have been pretty blunt), but real-life doesn't quite work that way.

I've always had a voracious appetite for information. I get upset at myself when someone else brings up a new technology that I don't know anything about. After a day at work, I bury myself in the Internet researching anything and everything on the planet. I want to know it all. I want to have an opinion on everything (and I usually do).

With my co-workers, though, I work hard to recognize where the boundaries of my responsibilities start and end. Guiding some of the most important strategies of our company, I can't afford to be in every meeting and throw my 2 cents into every conversation. We have hired employees more competent and knowledgeable of their craft than I'll ever be. Though passionate, I need to detach myself and concentrate on the areas where I can and must make an impact.

This week I've plowed through The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Robert Sutton. Not since reading Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work, have I been so riveted to a book on workplace behavior and psychology.

For years, I've assumed (no one gave me) the stress of the success or failure of an organization. I watched as many of my co-workers were eaten alive by the stress of the job and I myself have suffered terrible setbacks as well.

Perhaps I'm mellowing with 2 decades of workplace drama behind me, but the fact is that I am just as passionate about the work I do today as I was a decade ago. I don't excuse my passion, nor do I ever hide it. However, I have grown to become emotionally attached to issues and responsibilities that co-workers are going to drive the definition and execution of.

The result is success! I'm exceeding my 4th quarter goals right now, making a huge impact in my company, and not being viewed (entirely) as an a**hole as I may have been in the past. I'm trusting people to make decisions around me, even when I don't agree. I'd never put the business or a client in danger, but I also want folks to not have to look over their shoulder or worry about what my opinion might be.

By remaining emotionally detached from decisions that are not mine, it's affording me much more opportunity to improve the areas of responsibility that I am controlling. So here's my advise to you to be more successful at work tomorrow:

  1. Stop worrying about the work that someone else is responsible for doing.
  2. Offer your opinion when asked, otherwise keep it to yourself (unless it puts the company or clients at risk).
  3. Learn how to be emotionally detached from decisions and processes that you do not own.
  4. Concentrate on the work you can make a difference with.

You'll be a lot happier, your employer will progress quicker, and people won't call you an a**hole.

Order The No Asshole Rule on Amazon


  1. 1

    I didn’t realize that this was going to be a full-blown blog post. I was expecting something like a reader poll and I’d just get to check off the quick yes or no button and move on.

    Just kidding sir. Good post. It’s really hard for me to let go of some things, but like you I think I’m learning how to do it more and more each day.

    I may have to borrow that book from you, but that would be book number 4 that I’m in the middle of reading.

  2. 3

    Good post. This is particularly timely as a good reminder than one is simply not in control of everything, no matter what size the company and no matter how big the ego.

  3. 4

    I just hope you don’t think I’m an a**hole for eating the last cupcake at the Bean Cup! Kidding, you and I both know there were dozens still available after I left 🙂

  4. 5
  5. 7

    I’ve noticed this quite a bit lately at work. Coworkers getting so emotionally wrapped up into what they see are the wrong decisions that they ultimately can’t control. It translates into poor attitude, poor body language, burnout, and it has to be affecting their own quality of work. Even worse, I’m sure management takes notice.

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