How do you tell a real elite from a fake elite?
Posted by intellisg on August 2, 2007
I don’t know about you, but did you ever wish you had a portable shit snooper that could smell out a fake elite? Well I’ve searched ebay, it doesn’t exist! That’s an indication of how many times I had the desire to know whether, I am actually listening to a fake or real elite as he yaps away – sounds familiar? Ever been in that situation when you’re watching TV or listening to that guy on the podium?
How do you really tell the real from the fake? Do you really want to know?
You would think in our digital age. The task of separating the chaff from the wheat, men from boys, real from fake, elites from the phoney’s shouldn’t be all too difficult these days. All we really need to do is authenticate his credentials in the internet. After all, it takes less than 5 minutes i.e find out whether that ivy league degree he’s so proud of wasn’t purchased from a side street in Bangkok. No luck there, I am afraid, because even if he happens to be a real ivy leaguer, that doesn’t make him an anymore an elite than living in a cave necessarily makes you an archeologist!
Takes more than just a piece of paper to be a real elite – you got to have the right stuff and just to complicated matters, searching for the real one these days is like looking for a needle in the haystack only because they’re so many duds around pretending to be the real McCoy.
Don’t believe me – consider this.
Exhibit (A), there are shiploads of well educated elites which are good for nothing. Walking and talking Chernobyl’s. Exhibit (B) There are loads of elites who just know how to talk all day without really being able to deliver the goods. These are the NATO variety (no action, talk only). Exhibit (C) Then there are even those who think they know it all. These are the worst and they fall into the category of the ‘See Pah Kiang’ (Mr.Know it all). Unlike variety A and B who know when to bow out. These elites actually believe they can out run a speeding bullet and fly like plane. When they do leap of course, it’s just one giant swan dive – proving they are no more elites in the way we don’t expect babies to land the space shuttle!
This raises the question: how can we actually find out whether a person is a real elite? To paraphrase: how can we really be sure that person who represents himself as a subject matter expert knows really knows what he’s talking about?
Before we begin, lets look at the pay outs of working with a real elite and pit falls of ending up with a dud case.
I have always believed that the shortest distance between two points is working with an elite who really knows his stuff – having an elite doctor, an elite accountant and or even an elite coach is a life saver. At the end of the day, they may cost more, but pound for pound when one squares off the accounts the returns can be immensely rewarding and fulfilling.
For one, the real elites – never waste our time by having us run around in circles. Usually when they roll up their sleeves and get directly into the guts of the issue, they pin that sucker down and come out as the man of the hour – what was once either a life threatening problem just disappears – that tight spot that just doesn’t buy you one night of restful sleep just spreads out beautifully like a highway. Anyone who has ever had to work regularly with professionals will reaffirm the importance of taking the time, effort and attention to make sure they’re in the company of these ‘few good men’ – the real elites.
Conversely trusting a fake elite is like marrying a transvestite – it’s the stuff of mother of all nightmares. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a matter which involves money, faith, charity or something as important as health. A phoney will just let you down big time – give you false hope till of course, you see that all there is to it is card board and plaster of Paris. Only for them to backtrack to put the blame on you! After that the downward spiral begins: the truth sinks in. You realize that he wasn’t even half of what he said he was despite his ivy league degree. By that time, you’re neck deep wallowing in shit. You acted on his advice. You’re committed everything and now pulling out will just cost you an arm or a leg. On the return trip you will find yourself hurt, disillusioned and feeling like a fool. In certain cases trusting a fake elite may even result in finding yourself broke or in debt – that’s the low down on how bad it can get, when we put our trust in fake elites.
This is serious shit, usually by now, I’ve dived into the subject, but in this case the proposition of being able to distinguish a real from a fake elite is so important. I even have to come this far just to just set the ground! I just want to share with you. This may even be the most important life changing article you are ever going to read in the internet this year! And I wish to God I was joking!
Now that you know what the cost of the fall is and the pay out’s of getting it right, let’s dive into the nuts of bolts – how can we really distinguish a real from a fake elite?You would imagine the best way is by relying on recommendations and personal references. But in my opinion that’s dicey only because you don’t know what’s the relationship between the recommender and the elite recommended. Are they related? Do they have a vested interest to help each other? Are they freemasons? Or maybe they just belong to the same mutual appreciation society? As you can see, that’s hardly an acid test.
Another way is to peruse through the history of the elite in order to gain a definite perspective on what they can actually bring to the table. However, lets get real, how many times have we looked at a CV only to interview the person and express with a disappointed wan, “I kena con la.” Yeap the adage holds true alright, if it sounds too good to be true, most likely there’s something fishy about it.
So we are back to square one.
Fortunately through the years, I have upgraded my shit snooper to spot out the real from the fake elites. I mean it comes with everything, whistles and bells and even an ejection seat and I am going to share it with just you in this article.
1. Super Listening Skills
Are you familiar with the saying, “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but the problem is, what you thought you heard me say is not really what I meant?” You would have thought the major part of being an effective communicator is to be able to come across persuasively – by yapping away. Nothing can be further from the truth, in fact according to management experts, 80% of effective communication involves listening. In today’s high-stress, fast-paced business climate the case for listening has never ever before been more difficult and that’s what real elites typically do – they listen.
So don’t be surprise if they don’t even stand out from the crowd. Half the time, you don’t even see them because they got their asses up in the air as they put their ears close to the ground listening. Real elites know hearing isn’t nearly enough these days, if one really desires to understand what is at the root of problems – fake elites on the other hand rarely ever listen and even when they do they only hear what they want to hear. Could this be the reason why they are so out of touch with the broader community? That they even come across as disconnected and out of synch with the anxieties and concerns of their community. Often producing mother of all disconnect statements like infamous quote by Marie Antoinette – “let them eat cake.” We all know what happened to her don’t we?
Real elites understand part and parcel of being a professional requires the cultivation beyond just competence trust i.e the professional ability to deliver, but also the ability to display authentic empathy. Now if you’re thinking, this is just wishy washy “I bare my heart to you and I just leave with nothing tangible.” Then I am afraid you’re missing a huge chunk of the discourse here, real elites have a strategic reason for encouraging their clients to recount their narratives, they even consider it key – as they know their fears and anxieties frequently hold the key to resolving their much of their problems. This may translate into something as practical as a physician acknowledging his patient’s version of the truth even though all the clinical evidence suggest otherwise. This acknowledgement may mean repeating test or reconsidering a long and strongly held diagnosis.
This is where the magic kicks in and I will be honest with all of you. I haven’t really figured out how they (the real elites) flick that switch, but when the inversion happens – when they start to accept the POV of their clients it suggest that something symbolic gets broken down. It denotes a shift of power from professional to client which goes a long way to infuse the relationship with great equality that simply goes beyond relationship. Now most people would say that’s a people skill, but I disagree only because the flicking of the switch part could even be performed by the likes of you and me. I mean you could even try it out with your girlfriend. My fav technique is, “you know what honey, Friday is the day when I usually go for a island bike ride (make sure you pause here and look really intensely into her eyes), but I just want to give you this day to do anything you want with it (we all know that’s a lie right, bc its actually Sat). You get the drift right – I guarantee you 100%, you be an elite man for that whole evening and the best part is she will even allow you to flick her switches, just make sure you file those nails down – OK.
2.They never reinforce failure.
You know what – there is a military adage that all staff officers know by heart, “never reinforce failure.” That’s to say, in lay language, if you fail, by all means try again and even if you fail the second time, think it through and after that try again. But if the outcome is the same on all three occasions, then it could be said if you try again for the fourth time, you’re either insane or a fake elite, because logic suggest the outcome for the fourth or even fifth attempt will not differ from the three attempts.
Real elites and it doesn’t matter what field of expertise they are in, never ever reinforce failure. What makes them real as opposed to fake elites is their capacity to recognize first hand these cognitive pitfalls i.e the limits of their professional disciplines. That’s to say they know the point where ‘the road runs out’ or as Russians like to say, ‘where the river gives way to the sea.’
In practical terms it just means, they don’t trust themselves and they entrust even less of their judgment to their vocation. Now this may sound like a contradiction in terms, because you are all wondering what sort of professional would he be if he didn’t have the requisite confidence in his trade?
The short answer is a good one, only because real elites are overtly sensitive of how their professional thinking usually produces predictable mistakes. They understand only too well the flaw which exist in every professional discipline, the absence of a system that neither seeks to detect these mistakes nor deed their lessons back to the industry to prevent their reoccurrence – so unlike fake elites who usually ride on the dictum, “past performance is an indication of future performance.” Real elites reverse the dictum by adopting the attitude, “past performance is never ever a guarantee of future performance.” It may point the way, but that’s all.
And that readers is where we come to an end. As the Indian sages would say, ‘how does one eat an elephant? Cut it up into little parts.’ This is a first parter of a series of two and I hope to continue again.
(This has been brought to you by your friendly brotherhood controller, Aurora / By Darkness / Harphoon – how do you tell a real elite from a fake elite? – ES 2998279ES – The Brotherhood Press 2007)
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