The Trap Intellectually Prideful People Fall Into
World Teacher's Message No.272

 

The Question:

There are people who have an inflated sense of intellectual vanity, who are confident but don’t listen to other people, and are unable to adjust themselves to their environment. And they place the greatest importance on their own opinions. How can these people overcome this tendency?

From the Q&A session to the lecture “How To Develop A Magnetic Personality” given 9th September 2017 at the Happy Science special lecture hall:

 

The religious term for that is called “Bhava”. It’s like glue that hardens: once it sets it cannot change anymore.

Usually a person’s character is established according to the kind of schooling and family education they received before the age of 20. Some people say that it solidifies earlier in women than in men. Even women who enter the workforce seem to firmly establish their personality traits at around 30. Men have a little bit longer: their academic abilities can become visible quite early, but some people undergo dramatic changes at 40 or 50, around the age they become executives.

Many people mistakenly think that if they gain a good reputation, it will last for decades and centuries. But just like you can’t win all of your chess games, in society, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, regardless of whether it’s work in technology development or salesmanship.

The “worship of intellectual excellence” has existed for a long time. It was a convenient device for assessing people, by which I mean, for choosing leaders. It’s easier to choose a leader who excelled at school, was a student committee member, or has graduated from a reputable school, because everyone would have to agree that it was the natural competitive outcome.

But society has changed. Now society requires you to possess qualities that you don’t learn at school. You can never tell if this person or that will continue to work hard and study after graduating, and you can’t tell which ones will learn from their experiences and which ones won’t. People change according to these qualities.

You might think you’re a super elite, only to find that someone with a lower educational background rises through the ranks faster. You might get angry and think, “this organization must be out of its mind,” but actually, it’s because the people around you can’t find those extra qualities in you.

 

Exams Can’t Assess Certain Abilities

There are so many brilliant human abilities that school exams can’t assess. A notable one is physical stamina. Yes, there are physical education classes at school, but once you’re in the work force, half of your work productivity is largely influenced by physical stamina.

Years ago [as a student] when I spoke to Masaharu Gotoda – former Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Cabinet Secretary – he told me, “Tokyo University graduates have pretty much the same capabilities. The only question is, do they have physical stamina? In the end, those with physical stamina are those who win.”

Mr. Gotoda used to work at the Police Department, so maybe he’s a special case [laughs]. Well of course you need stamina at the Police Department, otherwise people won’t follow or listen to your orders. Perhaps these people respect Tokyo University graduates who are unexpectedly good at martial arts like judo or kendo.

Anyhow it’s true that many businesses love sporty people. It’s better for their new workers to be ‘empty’ because the things they learned at school become next to useless, and they have to teach them from scratch anyway.

They like training people who are ‘empty’ but have high abilities and physical stamina, because these people grow. Sometimes companies take people who have a long record of sports experience even if their school marks were below average.

This is not unjust, however. If they have stamina, they’ll work hard. And because they never paid attention at school, they absorb things very quickly. Sporty people are also highly valued for not being snobbish towards superiors.

Academic elites remember fine details like “I got a better mark than him in this exam,” or “I got an A and she got a B”, and so on. But none of this matters after the fact.

For example, people’s academic abilities change year-by-year throughout high school. One year can make a big difference. So how you spend the year makes a huge difference in your learning, even after you enter the workforce. But the novice workers can’t see it.

Say there is a superior who graduated from a small regional college years ago. The novice ‘elite’ subordinate may look down on the superior, and refuse to take orders. The superior may naturally start to pick on the subordinate, and say harsh things to him.

The relationship doesn’t go well, and as a result the subordinate quits and decides to work at a company where the workers are fellow graduates of his university. Here he can blend into the crowd. These people tend to look for help in the homogenous group, and tend to avoid places were people are evaluated for their true abilities.

I understand how they feel, but I think it’s better for people to ‘get hit on the head’ while they’re still young: of course, not to the point where they become distrustful of other people and lose confidence in themselves. But it’s good to experience lots of smaller setbacks and failures while you’re still young.

Happy Science is a religion that encourages people to study English, so let’s take that as an example. The levels of schools people enter are very different to the marks they get in an English exam. They’re seemingly unrelated. Those who study English get good marks, and these can be very different even within that same school.

For example, you would think that all graduates of a university of foreign languages are good at English. But it turns out that some people can get 900+ points in a TOEIC exam, while others only get 5-600. You may wonder why there’s such a difference. After all these people passed the same university entrance exams. It’s all about how much hard work they did after they passed the entrance exams, and after they graduated.

You can get top marks studying law and economics at the University of Tokyo, but in the outside world you won’t be answering those same exam questions. The ability to repeat things you learned in class to answer exam questions will not get you anywhere. In the outside world you need a completely different skillset for responding to the unexpected.

 

Learning From People With Experience

At around age 20, the level of each person’s educational background starts to become clear. But if you think you’ve had a prestigious education, you should try to find strengths in those with a less prestigious academic background, and try to learn from them. If they have qualities that are missing in you, you should closely observe them.

Also, you just can’t beat experience. Say your superior is a man of 40 who graduated from a regional university, and you’re a novice of 25 who graduated from a top-level institution. The age difference of 15 years means a huge difference in your capabilities.

You just can’t beat someone with 15 years of experience. This is also true for Happy Science branch managers. They have 15 years of extra experience studying religious teachings, conducting rituals, meeting people and talking to them. The more experienced person is clearly better at their job. A novice can’t beat them.

The novice’s job is to extract the essence of that person’s experiences. He has to keep his ears wide open and attentively examine what sort of things he has to learn from the experts. He has to observe and learn how other people are going about their jobs, and how they’re interacting with other people. He has to learn from the good bits, and also closely observe other people’s failures too.

The Trap Intellectually Prideful People Fall Into
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