Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

Why Some People Will Never Learn

We learn faster when we absorb feedback efficiently. Learning therefore takes an ability to "stand corrected." Stand, meaning your dignity is intact even while admitting and error and correcting it. For that you need a special kind of confidence, confidence in a sense of yourself as a worthy work in progress. Read More

Being identified as Black or White

This only exist in America. Is there any substance of value, truth, or relevance; Or is it something that is a reflection of our segregated pass.

I disagree. I think the

I disagree. I think the place to look for signs of a tendency toward a plateau psychology is in cultural representations of what I'd call figments of ultimate satisfaction, places where landing, we would be free from angst, doubt, self-recrimination. I find these in most if not all cultures, for example Nirvana in Hinduism and Enlightenment in Buddhism.



Seems like someone was pissed

Seems like someone was pissed off by a narcissist. Andrew might be just scared and insecure. He probably wants to do good in life but horrified of making mistakes. But most probably, he doesn't even know what is he like and what is his behaviour like. It is easy to judge what we don't understand.


This was poorly written and also common sense!

I agree with Shaine, this was

I agree with Shaine, this was poorly written with lots of typos and sometimes hard to follow sentence structure. I also agree that this is common sense to those who have great awareness of themselves and good emotional regulation. But unfortunately, common sense isn't so common.

I agree about the typos. I

I agree about the typos. I also agree that it's common sense. Asked point blank, most of us would say that we will never reach the kind of perfection the plateau represents. I went back to edit in an emphasis on our unconscious and intuited assumptions, those assumptions we couldn't or wouldn't put into words but can still influence us. I think there's plenty of evidence that we yearn for a landing strip, a plateau where we are beyond recrimination. Consider how many people believe in heaven.

As for complex sentences, I use cumulative sentence form more than most. I like it. It's useful I think to recognize the ambiguity in our dismissive judgments. When someone says "that's obtuse" it could either mean "you should have done a better job to clarify" or "I didn't bother trying to understand more." The burden is on us writers to write as clearly as possible, a mission I succeed and fail at, of course. But not every "I don't understand" means "You said it wrong."



This seems to contradict the

This seems to contradict the recent studies that show a high percentage of CEO's having traits of psychopathic behavior. This article seems to indicate that being well-adjusted is an indicator of success, yet that's not what we see in the high ranking positions of Wall St. and hedge funds.

Good point, to say nothing of

Good point, to say nothing of dictators, many of whom seem to act as they believe they've landed on the plateau of success already and shouldn't have to put up with further criticism.

From what I understand a fair number of Wall St. superstars are actually pretty slow learners, a pain in the ass to their employees and to us all. Still self-certainty is a key to charisma. Many of us fawn over such leaders, perhaps thinking that through affinity to, and association with these plateau-dwellers we're closer to the plateau ourselves.

Thanks for writing,


My 49 year old son is like

My 49 year old son is like Andrew... if I say black he says green, purple or yellow. He is not successful because he is lacking in people skills and societal norms. He , on the other hand , is very smart and can fix any computer problem or build a house from frame to finish but he won't take a job if it doens't pay him what he thinks he's worth. HE did not finish school and therefore does not have the education to back up his "worth". He is a narcissist also. No, he does not live with me.

Bill makes Andrew

In many cases the Bills of the world will be the folks that takes all the criticism and grunt work and be forever stuck in middle management style positions and lower while making money for the higher up Andrews.

There are far more Bills then there are Andrews and the Bills are preyed upon by all. Most of us are Bills, myself included.

Different roads to missing the point

Andrew and Bill are on different roads, neither of them success. Bill will probably be wealthiest the fastest because of his focus and fury.

Nobody really wants to admit it, but the delusion of success people have, those dreams that we don't let the world have it's way with, is the reason why most people succeed.

However, he's going to be wealthy fastest, and find out it's empty because he has no purpose outside of making money, and he's missing the journey. Andrew on the other hand may never reach success, in that his journey will never be over.

He lives for the next challenge and people lost in the journey generally miss the point of achievement and seldom stop to smell the roses.

It'll take him longer to get to financial wealth, but he'll never be successful, because he doesn't know how to enjoy it and is always looking for the next challenge...

kinda like an adrenaline junkie who can't stop long enough to enjoy the accolades of the amazing near super-human feats that lit up YouTube.

I'd like to see a John in there, who knows the balance between the journey and can stop at the milestones to smell the roses and enjoy the achievements he's earned.

After all, success is about fulfillment of the body, mind and spirit, and must have rest in between.

Not really true

I do agree with a lot of information contained in this article but most of it is irrelevant because every single person is different and moreover everyone's luck in life is different.

I am talking from personal experience. Waiting to land on the plateau, hit the jackpot whatever is something that I doubt that most people do not wish. It hasn't been mentioned if Andrew works hard or not, its a difference to work and work hard.. nothing mentioned about his personal development, learning etc. The way I see it you don't always need to listen to criticism, most of it is negative and is not healthy. The best way to take criticism or listen to others opinions is by creating a mechanism that works for you, sort all external information and analyze if you consider worth analyzing. Some people working in fields that its inevitable for them to hit the jackpot, including business people cannot live without this feeling otherwise they have no target. Of course everything comes with risk, but even Bill can be at risk at any time, on one side if listening and being corrected becomes a habit, Bill might end up not knowing who he really is; on the other side, working and being happy with a success and looking forward for the next one , as formulated "What's next?" is not always healthy either; this means Bill is not so ambitious. A person who wants real success must estimate, analyze, plan etc. when the next success comes..

There are people who simply choose to set high targets, but they must be realistic and treat failure just as another lesson.
Another type of Andrews are people who yes, can afford to lose by risking much and expecting high results, set high targets, they simply afford to.

In the end I will mention that the article is ok, some good points, but most of the main points cannot be generalized in this way.

"Andrew thinks rich to grow rich." - You cannot think poor to grow rich.

I know people who wake up in the morning checking their employees and living wealthy without having to work much. It's work smart not hard for some.

I can write on this subject lots more but I don't believe there is any point. Everyone is different!

Everyone is the same and different

or else we wouldn't be interested in the generalizations that psychologists trade in. You describe different "types." But if we were all completely different there would be no types at all. I believe in generalizing carefully and I admit that this piece I wrote is very black and white, not particularly careful. I aimed to draw attention to a fundamental intuition that slows us down, an intuition that could be called "Think perfect; grow perfect" as though you can prime the pump for getting to the plateau by pretending you're already there, or by declaring your affinity to those who pretend to already be on the plateau of success.

Thanks for writing,


Everyone is different

Bills make Andrews "Bills" ... I love a few of the above comments.

The only down side of Andrew is that he can get into more trouble than Bill if path he makes for himself is not blessed by the universe. Bill can always be happy with the small success for Bill high goals don't exist and has a lower chance to get in trouble. By trouble here I mean debts, lost partners, friendships etc. But Andrews usually find ways to always get back on their feet.

Bills , Andrews , Johns all of us are at risk ..nothing is 100% secure.

I sustain education because the lack of it will never get anyone to the point of living even a decent life. But many others factors matter in one individual's life... some have education and lack others. Controversy huh? It's healthy.

The fact that most CEO's and important pioneers of the technological and industrial revolution have dropped out of school.. this says a lot about this article :) Maybe Andrews don't need teachers, they have the ability to learn by themselves? :)

dismiss the "andrews" and move on...

While the two personality types are not representative of most fully developed personalities, I believe that they are resident in different people at different times. The "Andrew" persona is one that I have worked with on numerous occasions, and was always forced to leave them to their own devices.

Too vague...

I can think of about 10 ways to re-interpret those two characters using my profiling system and none of them are negative. People just have different ways of processing information and thus view the world differently, but it does not mean that one person is more likely to succeed than another. After profiling a large number of people now, how they think affects how they behave and sometimes it's useful, sometimes not. But to say someone is "sensitive" without defining HOW they do that isn't useful either. Check out my profiling system:

Totally agree

Darren, I couldn't agree with you more. Who are these characters and what are their dreams? Just because they act differently, process feedback different doesn't make one more successful over the other. There are way too much factors left out of this scenario to start classifying who will learn, grow and become more successful.

Mostly, this article is

Mostly, this article is horseshit. For a plethora of reasons. One, to pigeonhole all of mankind into a left and right persona tragically undermines the variability that makes us waking animals. What the author is condemning is pride, one of the most essential traits of humanity. A pedestal is fashioned for those who will make a habit of taking the path of least resistance. It's easy not to fight, to ascend that plateau, and merely accept mediocrity. Dreams are not born of this stuff, and dreams are unattainable by constantly correcting yourself to fit other people's measures of the distance your dreams can go.

With so many in this world trying to take what is theirs, the aggressive pursuit of our dreams and hopes of their attainment are the only path for ascending the plateau. The plateau will not bend itself for you.

Interesting that you read

Interesting that you read left and right into my article that doesn't mention them. But there's something to what you say. Check out Chris Mooney's book "The Republican Brain" for possible connections to your interpretation. We have infinite variety and yet you say what I describe is "an essential trait of humanity"? So which is it, infinite variety or essential traits?

I'm not sure what your point is here. You seem to have many. I bet I could do a more articulate job of arguing that my article is horseshit than you have. That is, even when my articles do well, I'm not so impressed that I forget the doubts I had when crafting them. Those doubts are the stuff from which I craft subsequent articles.

Wishing you the best,


I Found This Very Helpful

I personally found this article timely and helpful. I've been struggling to come to terms with having a former "friend" who comes across as very cheerful and likeable, but who leaves me feeling drained and manipulated. The Andrew analogy was actually very helpful. So thank you for this.

Lacks understanding

People who can't accept criticism are not full of themselves or hyper-focused on their success. They have extremely low self-esteem, see themselves as weak, and feel powerless to overcome their perceived innate proneness to failure. He first guy in this story is just too overwhelmed with his inner emotions to have that fear validated outside himself. He believes that the only way to cope with those emotions is to suppress them.

The second guy takes criticism well, because he has a solid sense of identity and self-worth. Critiques are not other people seeing his rotten core that he tries hard to dismiss... critiques are simply areas he can improve on and have no reflection of his value as a person.

Fascinating Responses

I liked reading this post, though I agree it should have been written more carefully.

I believe it conveys a very simple idea, which, not much to my surprise, got a lot of people angry.

This story contrasts two different guys: one who refuses to accept life as it is and struggles to mold his reality to better fit him. The other one accepts it, not necessarily in a passive way, but who works with it to remain saner.

Bottom line is that both die in the end. However, one spent most of his life resisting it, with the belief that only the future would be better; the other didn't.

I know we're taught that we can control everything and climb to the top of the social structure if we want. We are taught to compete and compare, and comments in the lines of "you should be like Andrew, or else you'll be taken by people like him" reveal a great deal about the cognitive dissonance that comes from being taught something that does not correspond to everyday reality.

Again, we all die in the end - and for those who believe they control everything, remember that the end may come today, whether you think you can control it or not.

Anyway, why would someone dedicate his/her life to the future, if that someone is to reach that long-desired plateau without the ability to live it. You know, in the present...

Good read, Jeremy.

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Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.


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