Superiority

The wine was delicately poured
They dined in extravagance
The wives were subtly ignored
He didn’t want them mad again
“I’ve been endowed with many gifts,”
He quipped while straightening his tie,
“I love the sound when money flips
My skills are more than you require.”
“Then let me pose another question,”
The other said with eyebrows raised
His fingers closed behind his neck then,
“Tell me, how much are you paid?”
“One hundred strong, quite a prize
A hefty sum in just a year!”
By then the lady rolled her eyes,
“Your math is very off, my dear
Full forty for a mansion
Empty to the brim
Twenty for the second car
Never taken for a spin
Three for the suit you wear
Of which you have nine others
Three fourths of what is left to spare
So we don’t die from hunger
Leaving two and fifty in the bank
As if we’ve been robbed!”
“Sir I think you have your wife to thank
I’m giving her the job.”

 

You’re not better than me. I’m not better than you.

No matter who you interact with, you will always be able to learn something from them, and they will always be able to learn something from you. A sense of superiority, on either side, is not only demeaning, but prevents the offender from being able to grow. If you have the preconceived notion that you are somehow above another, you’ve constructed an artificial barrier to new learning experiences.

An interesting thing about superiority is that it only exists relative to someone else. When you try to be the best, and that is the only thing important to you, the goal is being restricted to the accomplishments of others. Your measure of success is based on being recognized in a superior way to someone else. If you can rid yourself of the need for recognition, and focus on approaching each interaction with a desire to come out better than you entered, you will open up new avenues of maturation that you wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of.

This is not to say you shouldn’t strive to be outstanding at what you do. Challenging yourself, getting out of your comfort zone, and attacking your goals are all admirable qualities. However, they don’t have to be worn on your sleeve and advertised to every person you meet. If you have a genuine desire to bring out the best in the people around you, and continue to learn from them, your natural tendency to want to show off your talents needs to be restrained. By all means, share your successes with those who are close to you, who are past the point of being potentially insulted or taking something the wrong way. But approaching each new acquaintance with a sense of equality and eagerness to learn will go a long way.

Even after reading all this, you may still be convinced that you really are superior to others, but you agree it may be prudent to hold that feeling back. If this is the case, consider this: during your life, you probably have been presented with amazing and lucky opportunities that you’ve been fortunate enough to seize and make the most out of. Your initial success might have given you the confidence to expand what you are capable of. Your support network may have given you the encouragement to persevere through difficult times. The point is that nobody gets to where they are all by themselves. Ever. If you can come to this realization, it is the first step to understanding that your sense of individual superiority has ironically been justified by things outside of your control, things that you didn’t make happen on your own. This humility can lead to much more rewarding experiences with others.

 

Situational Questions

  • When you meet someone new, do you have an initial reaction about what class they fall into relative to you (for example by profession, wealth, ancestry or geography)? What if you entered that meeting with a genuine belief that you are both equals?
  • Imagine there was nobody left to show off to, would you still take the time to quantify your greatness? Would there be any more reason to dramatize your achievements?

 

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