Integrity is a key component in our intelligent fanatic equation. Without integrity, it is impossible to become an intelligent fanatic.
Yet, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and others who fit the intelligent fanatic mold could, at times, be considered “heartless monsters”. They possess(ed) hysterical intolerance for those that did not share their vision, that were “out of tune”. Such explosions can be confused with lack of integrity. It’s not.
Intelligent fanatic = (Long-term vision + Intelligence + Energy + Perseverance + Execution) x Integrity
Again, Beware When Studying Greatness. What works for someone else likely won’t work for you. Mindfully take the best qualities from each fanatic while throwing away their poor traits.
How can one get away with temper tantrums, belittling others, and still possess integrity?
A few intelligent fanatics are born with rare mental capacities. They can see in clear detail the full picture, fully born. Steve Jobs knew how to create products that pleased the masses, interfaces that were uber friendly, and marketing messages that were enticing and engaging. It came naturally to him.
At the same time these rare individuals have zero tolerance for people that don’t fully embrace their vision. They are subject to hysterical intolerance, belittling and temper tantrums. Put simply, they are assholes.
For example, Steve Jobs’s agency partners reported that if they showed Steve a campaign, or a design for a product, and if he didn’t like it - he’d throw the papers across the room and make them work all night.
Jeff Bezos’ outbursts with employees are referred to as “nutters”. Bezos often tells employees who are “out of tune”, “Why are you ruining my life?”, “If I hear that idea again, I’m going to have to kill myself,” and “We are going to have to supply some human intelligence to this problem.”
But why did those fanatics treat others poorly at times?
It is as if some intelligent fanatics possess “perfect pitch”.
Perfect pitch is a rare ability for an individual to hear a pitch - any sound - and identify exactly what note it is without a reference. Now when they hear a live band playing music it can be extremely painful if the band - or any member of the band - is only slightly out of tune. To most mortals, we can’t even hear the difference. So to the individual with perfect pitch, listening to minutley out of tune music (or songs in different keys from the original) is like listening to a blackboard being scratched. It’s not how they hear it so clearly in their head.
For instance, Paul Dateh has perfect pitch. He described how out of tune music “bothers” him. What is it like riding in the car with Paul and listening to music on the radio? Tim Hoot, Paul’s bassist, recounted:
“After about a minute he said, ‘I can’t listen to this’. Turns it (the radio) off. Everybody in the car - we were driving off to some gig or something like that - was saying ‘What is that?’ He told us how it (the song) was sharp and his ears couldn’t take it. Because it was so wrong than what it should be.”
Fanatics with “perfect pitch” are the same. They are bothered when others are “out of tune” with what is so clear in their head. Their hysterical intolerance for those “out of tune” can lead to temper tantrums, as discussed earlier.
But how do those with “perfect pitch” get away with it?
“...it’s ’pretty girl’ syndrome. Being gifted is like being born beautiful. You don’t have to work a day in a year in your life for it. You were born with it. In one sense, it’s like blue blood, money, gift, or beauty. They are things that should make you the most humble, because they are not things you have earned. They are things you were given. Yet, it is my experience that they make people the most spoiled.”
Now doesn’t that spoiled, “pretty girl” syndrome describe Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and other masters, who treated others who were “out of tune” poorly, so well? Like being born with beauty, they were born with “the gift” and can’t stand others who weren’t born with brains that could immediately see the whole picture.
So when the rare fanatic throws a tantrum, like a pretty girl they can get away with it. The Halo Effect is Actually Good For Them. Just as beauty outweighs flaws, a fanatic’s honesty, vision, track record for winning and other positive characteristics outweigh the flaws.
Then you see individuals who weren’t born with this “perfect pitch”. Those who had to work, work and work to reach mastery - this is how Bono described them:
“And the people who work the hardest, and who have overcome the most obstacles in their life, who have a reason to be arrogant, who have reason to beat their breasts are the most humble...So to make it through success and still have manners, to still have curiosity, intellectual curiosity, to still have some grace, to keep your dignity, that is really… rare.”
Intelligent fanatics without the rare “perfect pitch” overcome weaknesses. They grind it out. Through deliberate, proper preparation - those 10s of thousands of hours - they rise to the level of a master.
Let me get this straight, those without “perfect pitch” can never work to get it, no matter how much practice they put in. But like many great musicians, mortal fanatics can build “relative pitch” - the ability to name a note with a reference note, and create beautiful music.
In music perfect pitch helps, but is not necessary. Bono doesn’t have it and he leads one of the most successful bands today!!! CNN reported in 2014 he was worth more than $590 million. He’s overcome his weaknesses by relying on his band members. Here we wrote about how U2 properly incentivizes band members to act as a team. U2 has made wise business moves and continually has evolved [MEMBERS CAN READ HERE].
Those fanatics who work for their skills are often humble and have grace. They are less likely to treat others with tantrums.
The absolute rarity is the “pretty girl” with “perfect pitch” who has grace. That is why Warren Buffett is one of the most rare human beings in business and investing, probably ever. Not only does Warren have “perfect pitch” but like pianist Derek Paravicini - he can store and recall an almost unlimited amount of data. And while Warren still has weaknesses, he doesn’t let his “perfect pitch” turn into hysterical intolerance and tantrums that belittle others.
I’m sure many have met moderate to ugly “individuals” with “pretty girl” syndrome, right? How far do these people get? Not very far.
For us mere mortals who aren’t born with “perfect pitch”, you won’t go far with “pretty girl” syndrome. Even if you put in the proper deliberate practice you can’t go around mindlessly mimicking the flaws of others. You’ll zero yourself out real quick. Integrity, treating people fairly while developing win-win relationships is imperative to becoming an intelligent fanatic.
If you are interested in becoming an intelligent fanatic yourself, you should become a Member. Our soon to be released online course will describe how to truly stand on the shoulders of giants and see further. [JOIN HERE]