While watching The Newsroom for the 21st time, 2 words, caught my ears. Granted, I am not really watching the show anymore but rather enjoy it as entertaining background noise. However, when Olivia Munn explains the meaning of a greater fool to Jeff Daniels, I stopped what I was doing to write this.
So, what is a greater fool?
According to AaronSorkin, the genius behind The West Wing and The Newsroom, it is the following: “The greater fool is actually an economic term. It’s a patsy. For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool— someone who will buy long and sell short. Most people spend their life trying not to be the greater fool; we toss him the hot potato, we dive for his seat when the music stops. The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed. This whole country was made by greater fools.”
When I think about leadership and strategy, about vision, mission and outcomes, are successful companies led by greater fools? Do these companies attract, recruit and retain greater fools? Would you as a leader call yourself a greater fool? Or let me ask you this, how often have you felt like the literal greater fool without even understanding your true impact and everything you set in motion?
Is this blend of self-delusion and ego not exactly what we need to challenge the status quo, the same old?
And to make room for creativity, diversity and excellence and to reach the next level and be ready for whatever change is coming our way?
Ok, yes, there could be a downside if this combination is used for evil. But surely, those people would never call themselves greater fools but rather greater goons.
What does it look like for you to be that greater fool in your company, your business and your team? I believe it takes guts, chutzpah, being grounded as well as skill. As for experience, I am not sure it is essential for being a greater fool. Actually, I believe it is counter-productive as too much experience, especially the jaded and tainted one, might get in the way of that needed dosage of self-delusion. It definitely requires thick skin for the hits that will come your way, for being doubted and dismissed, perhaps even ridiculed. And let’s face it, who likes to be called a fool, yet alone a greater one.
Imagine what it will feel like when you succeeded where others have failed!
Imagine what it will feel like when you have left your mark, pioneered new grounds and created your legacy.
I can only hope that I was that greater fool in my former roles. And that I continue to be the greater fool, no matter what the situation or challenge will be, to make a lasting impact for the better and to transform change.
And as I venture out into the world, beginning tomorrow, I will be on the lookout for these greater fools…the more, the merrier, the better, right?
OPTIMIZE YOUR TALENT AND PRODUCTIVITY
You know things aren’t working, but you aren’t sure why. Inconsistent profits, noticeable churn, or poor customer satisfaction are merely symptoms of busted business operations.
If it’s not properly fixed, you can forget about profit and growth.
You need a guide on your side to turn things around.