1. Superiority Complex
2. Inferiority Complex
At least that’s the proclamation in Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld’s new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.
Amidst the political chatter about the lack of upward mobility in the U.S., several minority groups consistently flourish.
Chua and Rubenfeld argue, it’s The Triple Package.
Believing you are better than other people.
Not a particularly popular sentiment to voice at a dinner party, but it’s common among these high performing groups.
Jews were hand-selected by God.
Likewise the Mormons.
Iranians (aka Persians) invented civilization.
The Chinese dazzled with the mother of all Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
You get the idea.
How can you have a Superiority Complex and an Inferiority Complex?
It’s more common than you think.
Steve Jobs spoke openly about the effect of his adoption – about not being wanted.
Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, popularized the notion of perpetual paranoia.
Bill Gates has always been a giant nerd.
Have you seen Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Acceptance speech?
Giant ego… yes.
Inferiority complex… yes.
Groups share this same attitude.
Imagine surviving the Holocaust.
Now it’s not hard to imagine feeling a bit of an Inferiority Complex.
Intense motivation can come from oppression.
Chua and Rubenfeld call it “Impulse Control,” but it’s grit.
The drive to persevere despite challenges.
Among other academic pursuits, Indians dominate Spelling Bees.
Are Indians simply smarter?
I don’t think so.
Smart kids study more than other kids.
They work harder.
The put in the Gladwellian 10,000 Hours in reading or math… and then they do trigonometry in the 5th grade.
Are they smarter?
Sure… now they are.
After 10,000 hours of math while my kid is opening secret levels on Skylanders.
As Americans, we built this country on The Triple Package.
We felt we were getting pushed around by the Monarchy (Inferiority), so we sailed the pond and set up our own gig.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”
Except we wanted slaves in the field to work the land we stole from the Indians.
And the Mexicans.
Let’s call it Manifest Destiny.
(Superiority. Lots of it.)
But it wasn’t given to us.
It was hard work (Grit).
The Puritan work ethic was required to conquer North America.
What about today?
Do Americans still own The Triple Package?
A Superiority Complex?
I don’t think so.
As a country?
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Chua and Rubenfeld (or me, for that matter), The Triple Package is worth a read. If nothing else, you can contribute to the conversation on American greatness.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.
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Categories: Jobsite Leadership