Robert Sutton (2010) officially brought the term Asshole into the business world to describe those I usually refer to as Toxic Individuals. In his book ‘The No Asshole Rule’ he describes the damage such individuals tend to wreck. Whether it be at home or at work, Assholes with their domineer and disrespectful ways, cause much harm for others and organisations alike. Sadly they are increasingly encountered in our society. At the same time there is another kind of individual, those I refer to as Beautiful Souls, who have the opposite effect on others. Beautiful Souls bring respectful caring to the world. Fortunately we can chose whether we allow Assholes or Beautiful Souls to Rule our World.
In order for us to select who Rules Our World we need to be able to recognise and distinguish Assholes from Beautiful Souls. Happily it is not hard to do. In order to distinguish them we’ll examine the difference between Assholes and Beautiful Souls in more a detail. Once we can distinguish them we can select whether Assholes or Beautiful Souls Rule Our World.
Characteristics of Assholes include their overwhelming need to maintain control and they often enjoy observing others suffer. Indeed they will create situations purely for such enjoyment, without remorse. They are habitually dishonest, whether it be small twists of truths to serve them or outright lies. They believe they never make mistakes, thus apologies are not heard from Assholes. Instead they rapidly and skilfully shift blame for things that go wrong, while easily claiming ownership for others successes.
Due to their selective treatment of others, some people will think a specific Asshole is a wonderful person and find it hard to believe the ‘stories of abusive behaviours’ by that Asshole. At the same time Assholes persistently leave others, their targets, feeling disrespected and demeaned. Usually Assholes, at least, believe they have power and or social status over their targets.
On the other hand Beautiful Souls are persistently polite and warm to others, regardless of their social position. They are those that consistently leave others feeling good, no matter who they are. Beautiful Souls are respectful, caring, and appreciative which they communicate in their very presence. In addition they take responsibility for their actions, they are comfortable apologising, are helpful, listen well and are willing to adapt. When I think of Beautiful Souls I think of Dali Lama. Beautiful Souls are amazing people who overflow with kindness, authenticity and respect for all. Unfortunately we don’t see many Dali Lamas in our society.
This shortage of True Beautiful Souls is because as human beings we have a tendency to drop, at least on occasions, into Asshole mode. This is quite different to True Assholes. Sutton (2010) refers to these individuals as temporary assholes. Myself I consider them either difficult or challenging individuals.
As Assholes are increasing in number they tend to Rule Our World by default. To have Beautiful Souls Rule our World requires a conscious choice. However by selecting Beautiful Souls we increase our health wellbeing and general success in life. If individual takes on the challenge of being a Beautiful Soul, I refer to them as Beautiful Souls in Training. And this is where the challenge sets in. Distinguishing Beautiful Souls from Assholes is quite easy, however in reality we are far more likely to encounter difficult, or challenging individuals and Beautiful Souls in Training than true Beautiful Souls. Distinguishing them from Assholes is not quite so easy.
Beautiful Souls in Training are those who have consciously chosen to Have Beautiful Souls Rule their World. They are Skilling Up to improve their self-care, self-awareness, communication and relationships skills so that they are more frequently in Beautiful Soul Mode. You can recognise Beautiful Souls in Training by their generally Beautiful Soul approach to life.
Beautiful Souls in Training are respectful, open, apologise, express appreciation and usually leave others feeling good about themselves. However on occasion they slip and demonstrate Asshole behaviours, which they generally regret. Beautiful Souls in Training realise mistakes are made in the journey of Becoming a Beautiful Soul and accept the slips as part of Becoming A Beautiful Soul. They do however reflect on how to reduce the slips. In addition we also have to consider difficult and challenging people. Those that are not Assholes but at times display Asshole Behaviour without taking on the challenge of Becoming a Beautiful Soul.
Importantly by focusing on the key difference between Assholes and Beautiful Souls, including Beautiful Souls in Training, we can distinguish by the impact they have on others. Assholes have two effects on others, those they feel worthy see a nice person, while those who are considered below them are left feeling dreadful; while Beautiful Souls leave others, regardless of their status, feeling good about themselves. And Beautiful Souls in Training are consciously increasing their practice of being a Beautiful Soul thus more frequently than not leave people feeling respected and good about them self.
Now you know the difference between Assholes and Beautiful Souls and the impact they have on others it is time for you to consider Who Rules Your World, Assholes or Beautiful Souls? If you choose Beautiful Souls you can start by becoming a Beautiful Soul in Training. This is a foundational choice to make. We’ll look at this process of Becoming Beautiful a Soul in the next article.
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Life was meant to be enjoyed.
Dr Janelle Sheen
Sutton, R. 2010 The No Asshole Rule Piatkus London