The Trap Intellectually Prideful People Fall Into (Part 2)
World Teacher's Message No.273



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 that followed the lecture “How To Develop A Magnetic Personality” given 9th September 2017 at the Happy Science special lecture hall:


There are people who don’t listen to intelligent people and think their own ideas are absolute, but eventually they become ‘oversized garbage’. There are many people like this in society, but the sad thing is, often you don’t realize that it could be you.

When I entered the workforce, work started at 9:15 am, but the company held early morning meetings so the managers and senior directors would arrive by 8:30 am. I also went to work early because I was new, but even then I was scolded for being one of the late ones.

In the mornings, an old man from the research department would walk around distributing the mail, and I used to say, “that mailman looks like an unpleasant man.” Then they told me, “Well, that man is a graduate of your alma mater. Didn’t you know? He graduated from the faculty of law at the University of Tokyo three decades ago.” It took me by surprise. He was over 50 years old, and wasn’t even a section manager. He was a rank-and-file employee who couldn’t even quit because he had nowhere to go; and he probably didn’t do his job very well [so they made him the mail distributer].

In a trading company, you need social skills. One failure may not affect you, but after you make numerous mistakes in human relationships, the company stops using you. You start to get treated like excess baggage, and eventually you become the mailman whose job is to walk around different divisions distributing mail. If I had looked closely, this man may have had an intelligent face, but he was wearing dark tinted glasses and walked like a floating ghost. I was so shocked when they told me that he was a graduate of my alma mater.

In New York, the mailman was a proper job, and a young black man was employed in the position [N.B. this was in the 1980s]. The mailman had to take the mail around a very big company, so while some older men were also employed, it was mainly a job for younger men. Their pay grade was obviously different, and they seemed to be paid by the week. Back home in Japan, a university graduate held this sort of job.


Smart People Who Become Excess Baggage

Salesmen often meet outside people for drinks or to eat. Sometimes the company would then get a response from the other business saying, “I never want to see that salesman again,” “he was so unpleasant,” “I never want to go drinking with him again.” If this repeats around three times, the salesman is barred from opportunities to go out.

The company I worked for was an interesting one, and sometimes employed former science majors who were strange people. Among my colleagues there was a graduate from the University of Tokyo mathematics faculty, which made me think, “Perhaps they’re good at math but are they of any use to the company?” I think he was positioned in the machinery division, but it made me doubt whether a faculty of mathematics graduate can actually do the job. Then within half a year, he was being treated like excess baggage: he was stuck in an unused corner of the meeting room, and was told not to leave it.

Basically, he was such a strange person that the company couldn’t bear to let him meet other people. I felt really sorry for him. I don’t know what he did after that, but what I know is that he was still there when I left the company.

I remember him to be an avid reader, considering he was a science major. When he arrived at the staff dorms, he brought with him around 25 cardboard boxes of books. But in terms of human relations, he didn’t have social skills, so it made others think, “I hope he’s okay. He just stares into space probably thinking about a mathematical equation, but does he really understand what I’m trying to say?” That’s how people treated him. Human relationships are difficult.

Communication skills are important, but it never appears in your school grades. Many science majors find human relationships difficult, and some people even choose science because they find it easier to deal with machines instead.

But if you have low human relationship skills, you can’t negotiate with others, and things like reporting, communicating and consulting become difficult, so people stop associating with you. They’ll bar you from entering meetings and so on, so you become excess baggage for the company. It’s not like you’re doing a solo performance, so in the end it doesn’t matter how smart you are.


Even Medical Doctors Need Human Relationship Skills

The same goes for medicine. Medical practice involves human relationships, so people who decide to study medicine just because they got good grades can’t necessarily become good doctors. It seems like 10% of doctors fall into this category, and they lower their hospital’s reputation.

If you don’t like people you shouldn’t become a doctor. Being a doctor involves quite a bit of socializing, and you’d have to face illnesses and death. So you shouldn’t do it if you don’t like human interaction. But there are quite a number of people who decide to study medicine because they have good grades, or because they hear that it pays well.

About 10% of medical students at the University of Tokyo fail their medical state certificate exams. About 10% realize during their studies, that they’re not fit for medicine. They decided to take the course because they got good grades, but just being good at math and English doesn’t mean you’ll make a good doctor. There are many students who face the prospect of doing autopsies and realize that they can’t stand blood or internal organs, or that they can’t look at dead bodies. These people are not fit for it.

It’s true that there are highly able people in the rest of the group. While I did say that one’s education doesn’t matter, there are many Tokyo University graduates with senior positions at top-level hospitals. These people also have a depth to their character, and they operate on famous businessmen and so on, so they understand social etiquette.

Perhaps they go beyond studying their special field of medicine and choose to read financial newspapers and magazines. They know a lot about society. But these people are the successful people, and there are also people who are the opposite.

So it’s important not to think of one’s educational background as the be all and end all. Those who were sent to cram school and selective schools from a young age tend to only seek the rewards for it. But really, you need to know that once you’re out in the workforce, you need to start over again and learn from there.


How to Not Become Snobbish

It is quite common that people who seem ordinary and even dull at first – people who protect themselves from harm in their tortoise shell – eventually start to stand out. You might see very bright people around you and feel that the world is unfair, but you must know that life is a long marathon. It is important to avoid harming others and focus on making small positive contributions.

If you have poor team work and communication skills it doesn’t matter how smart you are as an individual. It’s the same with studying English [or another foreign language]. Being able to speak English doesn’t necessarily translate to success in missionary activities. These people may be able to get good marks in an exam, but they are bad at ‘people skills’ and have no power of persuasion.

It’s the same in a trading company. Being good at English obviously helps. But if you’re too good at it – for instance if you decide to get a certificate in simultaneous interpretation – you may find that no one considers you for promotion. Executives may take you overseas as an interpreter, but you never get to learn executive work, and you simply become the handyman. This is quite common, and it’s very difficult to assess.

In conclusion, it’s easy to become snobbish if you have a particular skill, so in order to succeed you need to have the charm of innocence about you. If you look around you’ll find someone like this, so watch and learn.

For example, there are people who know their own strengths and weaknesses, and they don’t try to hide it. Or another person might show great humility where they could otherwise become snobbish. Or they might embody the spirit of self-sacrifice. Or their awareness of their own inexperience might impress other people.

These people have more room for growth. It’s important to note that people with no growth room are no good. It would be naïve to think that your past efforts will serve you for the rest of your life.

The Trap Intellectually Prideful People Fall Into (Part 2)
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