18 September 2017

Unpicking the Evil Genius

It's been one week since I threw back the curtain, ripped off the rubber mask, threw the switch on my creation and identified myself as an Evil Genius. Let me tell you it's not as awesome as it sounds. Last time we discussed the Evil Genius as being the opposite side of the coin to the Impostor. An idea I still think has much weight. It's a polarity, at one end you feel like people are expecting too much of you because of past successes, at the other you feel people expect way too little of you because you haven't really enjoyed much success.

Logically there's going to be a sweet spot in between the two, enough success to feel validated, not so much to feel pressured. Honestly, though, who cares about those guys: sickening perfectly happy weirdos, I bet their home life sucks.

Oh, yes, extremely important while we're on recap. This genius/impostor scale relates to work, or work-type activity. It's not about whether you have loved well, or whether you have succeeded in almost any other way. This is about anything that gets you money with which to buy things.

Last time we looked at "impostors", successful people who cannot shrug a nagging doubt that all of their success is based on some kind of cosmic clerical error. At any moment, they feel, the mistake will be spotted and they will be ushered back down the hall to sit with all the other ordinaries.

Well, screw those guys too. At least they can cry over their stuffed bank accounts. Plus their neurosis is flavour of the month in pop-psychology, so there's tons written about them.

Not so for we, the evil geniuses. It doesn't help, definitely, that the name for our syndrome includes the word "evil" in it. I'm sure that doesn't test well. But hell the other one is literally the word "impostor" which is kind of evil. At least in this corner we have the word "genius" pulling us back up.

We also have a branding issue when it comes to the fact that there is a well known video game called Evil Genius. That makes for domination of the first couple of pages of Google results. In the end all I could dig up for this week is this article about creative people finding it easier to rationalise deceptions.

Which is not what we're about at all.

Hey, just because we're evil geniuses doesn't mean that we're evil, right? Or geniuses for that matter.

All we are is people who feel that life has dealt us a consistently poor hand and presented us with relatively few opportunities to realise our full potential.

Now, as it happens although I'm making with all this "we" and "our" stuff I am really, at this stage, just talking about me. The reason being that I haven't exactly been deluged by people identifying with this Evil Genius idea. Maybe I haven't reached the right people, I refuse to believe that there aren't more Geniuses out there struggling to put their finger on what's wrong.

I'll tell you all what's wrong (this week) we don't have no frickin' list*. If you recall last time I stepped through a list designed to help identify those Impostor people, I recall item 9, I mean item goddamn nine, was "you are really successful in your field". Had they lead with that the test would be a lot shorter because, you know what, most people really aren't.

Let's flip the switch here because just writing the opposite of the other list isn't maybe enough to form a good basis for the feelings of evil genius-ness. Nevertheless item one has to be:

1. You don't feel you've been quite as successful in your career as, perhaps, you should have been.

Nodding your head, then it's time to read on:

2. You have come to realise, at least once, that your superiors at work are less suited for their job than you are.
3. You are often surprised when people are shocked by work-related news that you figured everyone just knew already.
4. You feel like you may have missed out on opportunities because you overrated the abilities of those surrounding you, only realising you should have stepped up way after it was too late to do anything.
5. You figure nobody likes a smart person so you try to keep your head down and integrate well as a team player, this often leads to you being thoroughly shafted.
6. You stop at your limits while others attempt foolish things way beyond theirs and appear, magically, to fail upwards.
7. You trust people too much and believe that they will do things that seem obvious to you, later you find they were ONLY obvious to you and disaster befalls.
8. You are pretty keyed in to both your failures and your achievements and see them as, at least, balancing out. You would identify with the statement "I've succeeded more often than I've failed, but occasionally I failed big."
9. You have big ideas all the time, you often label them as "pipe dreams", at least one of these ideas has made someone else very famous.
10. You have been known to be somewhat ego-centric, you didn't like it as a quality so you are fiercely on guard against egocentric traits.

This seems reasonable as a first draft. If some or all of it applies to you then feel free to drop me a line. It would be good to know that I am not all alone in this condition. Maybe if the Evil Geniuses of the world were to help each other out a bit then some good would come of it... which I guess might lead to:

11. You're not really a joiner and tend to be cynical of "success guru" material.

That last bonus point just means you have a brain, and, hell, how could that not be the case my evil comrade. Next Time: Evil laughter and mountain bases, the echoing mirth of loneliness.

* Well, we have this list but that's not what I really meant.

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