Trump and Introspection

Trump

Newish President Trump has got me considering the idea of introspection—the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.  Despite the never ending parade of self-help gurus all touting it’s benefits, surprisingly few people are introspective.  Those opposed to self-examination still rise through the ranks, lead people, and even become President of the United States, yet remain ignorant of their shortcomings.  Rather than toil in self-awareness, they plow through life pushing aside others with blissful disregard.  But what if they’re right?  What if we don’t need introspection?

Is it possible the Trumps of the world are right and the rest of us are idiots?  What if introspection is overrated?  In case he’s correct, here are nine reasons President Trump might want to continue to avoid introspection.

1. Introspection is painful.

Imagine the Donald rolling through life, blissfully happy about being the best and brightest, when all of sudden, blam!  He runs smack dab into the reality that he’s the opposite.  He shrugged off complaints about being gruff, demanding, and intolerant—but now they are a blistering reality burning away his self-worth fantasy.  A few minutes of introspection and he is laying in the fetal position crying for mommy.

2. Introspection leads to ignorance.

President Trump prefers to wake up, drink coffee, open the paper, and read about the latest congressional blunders.  Instead, he’s being introspective—asking deep, meaningful questions about his communication, leadership, and coaching styles.  Do I dominate meetings?  Can I change the way I interact with subordinates?  What phrase can I use to keep from intimidating my peers?  Before he knows it, he’s wasted the entire morning trying to figure out how to win friends and influence people instead of catching up on current events.  Who want’s an uninformed President?

3. Introspection is time consuming.

The Donald spends hours soul searching, taking personality tests, attending company sponsored team building events, and reading self-help books.  Then he piles on more time trying to improve on all of the things identified as deficiencies.  Finally, after the hours of classes, books, and reflection, he gets to sit in a therapist’s office and drone on ad nauseam about how inadequate he is.  If Trump weren’t wasting all this time on introspection, he could be running the country.

4.  Introspection taxes the brain cells.

Thinking is hard work anyway, but thinking about his deficiencies and correspondingly the things he needs to do to improve is excruciating.  The tests tell the Donald to be cognizant of others feelings.  Now he needs to come up with ways in which he can both recognize the people’s needs and adapt his communication style in furtherance of their success.  By lunch he’s burned more brain cells than graduation night.  We need a President with all his little grey cells.

5.  Extra-spection is more fun.

It is way more fun to find other’s faults and make fun of them than it is to examine his own.  Okay, President Trump seems a little insensitive.  Instead of beginning every conversation with a discussion about Mitch McConnell’s family, the Donald skips right to business.  But it’s great fun watching sweat accumulate on Mitch’s brow as he discusses the latest failed healthcare initiative.  Given the choice between dabbling in personal details or watching Mitch stumble through another attempt at leadership, the Donald takes the low road, chuckling all through the West Wing.

6. Introspection lowers self-esteem.

The President is seconds away from turning from a pillar of confidence into a pile of timid rubble.  He walks around pretending to know what the people want, acting like it was a good idea to run for President of the United States, blissfully unaware of how inadequate and ineffective he is. Then a body of tests and 360-degree feedback reminds him he is despised, unremarkable, and nepotistic.  Nobody wants a skittish President.

7. Introspection is expensive.

Tests, psychological evaluations, therapy, coaching, mentors, self-help books, seminars—organizations spend a lot of money to make sure people are effectively communicating the mission and living the core values.  Authors, speakers, and retired executives are getting rich off of our problems.  Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement.  Do we really want our President caught up in the introspection scandal, too? When will the madness end?

8. Introspection doesn’t help anyone.

At best, an introspective President Trump fails to change his style.  At worst, he fakes it until the next election, then brags about how he fooled the American people.  Either way, nothing changes.

9. Introspection only helps others.

Introspection has a terrible return on investment.  Imagine the Donald sitting in bed digesting another self-help book after a long day in the Oval Office.  “Perhaps a little introspection couldn’t hurt?” He wonders.  But introspection is about understanding one’s self in order to benefit others—sacrificial masochism designed to make other people feel better.  “Why bother becoming a better person when nobody will become a better person for me?”

If you’re looking for a reason to avoid being introspective, just choose one or more of the above rationalizations.  There is no reason to adjust, adapt, or recognize the needs of others just to get ahead.  Nobody ever became President by recognizing opportunities to improve.

On the other hand, if you actually care about other people, especially the ones you lead, maybe consider looking inward the next time someone on the team fails.  It is not okay to take credit for successes and pass blame for failures.


Note: Although the available evidence suggestions President Trump is not the most introspective person, I have no personal experience to validate this assessment.  He may very well be evaluating his actions and communication style daily, looking for opportunities to improve.  If he’s reading this, he should be aware that although I didn’t vote for him, I also didn’t vote for his opponent.  I want the country to be prosperous and successful, and if he is part of that package, hoorah.  But I have my doubts.

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