My personal project last week was to think of why brilliant people are not always successful. Over the years, I have had ample opportunities to meet people of all walks of life. I have seen some very smart people from high school go on and succeed in college and in their current careers, but I also know people who I have considered to be truly brilliant, fail miserably to get promoted or even have a good relationship. When it is all said and done, are you remembered for your brilliance or are you remembered more for your attitude than anything else? It seems we defer to so called experts in the media all the time, yet I find myself paying very little attention to anyone if they lack charm or are too abrasive from the get go. While book smarts are important, one can’t discount personality from the equation.
All of this adds up to two words I’m sure English teachers say all the time: effective communication. If you sound like you do not know what you are talking about, people will think you are an idiot, and if you sound too smart and talk over people’s heads, then you still are not communicating well. You need to know your audience and you need to charm them. It seems that people are not interested in rewarding hard work and dedication, they are more interested in complimentary personalities. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
The other day I was sitting in front of the television and flipping channels trying to find an NBA game to watch, when my significant other complained to me about having to watch another basketball game! The irony is that basketball has always been a big part of her life, but for me it is pure entertainment. However, what dawned on me at the moment of her complaint, was not how much basketball I really do watch, but what other television programming I watch on a regular basis. When I added it all up, I watch House and The Dog Whisperer when they are on, and I occasionally pause for a few minutes on The Girls Next Door, but pretty much I watch South Park all week long. There is something unique about how Matt Stone and Trey Parker poke fun at everything and how they absolutely connect with people who grew up in the 80’s. While I fondly remember my teenage heavy metal music, the emotional aches of childhood, and the heartbreaks of many girls I thought I loved, only South Park lets me revisit them and make me laugh at the same time. When Stan broke up with Wendy and became all depressed, I too remember that moment when I started dressing in black and writing poems about how evil life was.
Even more shockingly true are all those little life lessons that South Park so easily answers like: what age is the right age for sex? why are drugs bad? and why is toilet humor funny? Because it is! I would have to say that no other show on television keeps me as honest as South Park. Every time I get a little too full of myself, I watch an episode and am reminded that the worse thing you could be as an adult is a hypocrite.
Here’s a helpful parenting tip I wanted to pass along to young parents. Every time we were about to eat out as a family, my four year old kept insisting on going to McDonald’s. Not because the food is incredibly delicious, but because McDonald’s has the market cornered on kids. Their Happy Meal toys are a great incentive for kids and a terrible curse on parents who deny their kids the privilege of McDonald’s fast food. As an adult, let me just say that the McDonald’s menu is not entirely suited to our dietary needs. After constantly being the bad guy for telling my kid no, I decided to just tell him that McDonald’s was closed for the winter season and that they would reopen in the Spring. For a few months, my kids never asked for McDonald’s and they even started to like other restaurants that served a more adult menu.
Now I’m sure some people are saying that lying to your kids is just plain wrong, but I would argue that all that advertising on television aimed at kids is not entirely trustworthy. My kids eventually realized that McDonald’s wasn’t closed, and at that time I told them why I did not want them eating McDonald’s all the time and by this time they were older and understood my intentions.