Note from an imbecile: Did you know I was planning on writing a book at one point? It’s not completely scrapped, but it’s pretty much on hiatus until further notice. Here’s a section from the book, edited to fit the tone of this site, that I thought would be interesting on Self Stairway.

Incoming: absolute brutality (borderline dickishness).

Imagine your social circle as a castle. Does it have a sweet flag at the top? Cool.

Okay, now you’ll want build a moat around it with archers at the top of the gate, bows and arrows ready to fire away at the unwanted who will surely come banging, begging desperately to be let in. Who are the unwanted? The imbeciles, of course.

You have to be stingy with who you allow in because the people you surround yourself with will influence your daily rituals, your success, and the way you view the world.

Not only do imbeciles have a constantly negative perspective that will drag you down, they will attempt to offer you horrid feedback that is detrimental to your success.

Here are some classic signs of an imbecile:

1) They constantly ask vague questions and never stop. You’ll hear them ask general questions like “How do you become successful?” without realizing how ridiculous a blanket question like that is. Don’t worry, they’ll quickly followup with more the moment you attempt to answer the one that came before it.

You’ll be bombarded again and again, never stopping until you cut communications completely. Oh, you’re busy right now? Whatever you’re doing can wait. They’ve got questions, after all.

2) They talk a big game and puff their chest but they have no history of notable achievements. What makes it worse is they will try to offer you advice in areas where they have zero actual experience. Even worse, they try to give “expert” advice to people who actually are knowledgable in that particular field. Imbecile.

3) They take value but never give any in return. You will find these people constantly wandering around taking value from others in forms of questions or soliciting favors without contributing anything themselves. They’re value stealers.

4) A classic trick of the imbecile is to ask you a question, baiting you, so they can then offer you unsolicited advice or try to somehow one-up you.

The imbecile needs self-validation. He will keep prying until he finds a small victory so he can rest easier.

The imbecile will be insecure and unconfident. Throughout the day he is surrounded by people more successful, intelligent and happier than he is, so he must prove himself to the world (but mostly to himself) that he has value.

You don’t want imbeciles in your life.

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe you can change the imbecile for the better.

But how much would you sacrifice in return? What opportunity cost is there attached to the time and effort you commit to the attempt that may or may not work out?

I wouldn’t go as far to say once a imbecile always a imbecile, but I will say that it’s difficult to change how someone views themselves and the world around them. It’s hard to reshape the decades of natural behavior they’ve grown accustomed to.

Further your own legend instead. That’s where your efforts are most useful.

You have no time for imbeciles.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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19 responses to Imbeciles

  1. Ha! Vincent

    One day ‘remember to be humble’ and on the next ‘imbeciles’ – love it! Maybe, however, we all have a little of the imbecile in us it’s sometimes hard to throw stones..

  2. Imagine yourself walking among the fools and the directionless. Then think about the weasel. This weasel used to sit in the woods next to the field and watch other critters amble by. After watching and observing them carefully he leaped from cover and attacked them, with great success. He was asked how he obtained such great success and he answered, “I watch them when they walk and if they don’t look like they know where they are going, I attack.” In the same manner, aimlessness in life attracts the attacks of human weasels. Don’t be their victim by becoming wiser than the weasels of the world.

    And the hard lesson is:

    If somebody writes a book and doesn’t care for the survival of that book, he’s an imbecile. – Umberto Eco

  3. Hi Vincent,

    This is an excellent post!

    I think it’s important to judge ourselves as harshly as we judge others. We should make sure that we are not displaying imbecile behaviour (reference to your 4 points above) first before we deem others to be imbeciles.

    After all, we are human magnets, we attract who we already are. If we find ourselves constantly in touch with the wrong kinds of people, it’s time for some serious self-reflection.

  4. Ouch… That’s somehow harsh, don’t you agree?

    Yeah, I know where you are are coming from and totally get the point you are trying to make here. But to call them imbeciles? To call anyone an imbecile for whatsoever reason… Well, I, for one, can’t deal.

    When one feels the need to free people from the clutches of everything holding them back, there is no way to avoid these kind of people you are referring to. They need more help than they sometimes know or care to admit.

    Of course, it could be frustrating speaking with some people. But it is equally frustrating speaking to someone who believes he knows all, and therefore is not an ‘imbecile’.

    Point is, you don’t need to call people names to make your point. I like you better than that.

    Have a nice day.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tope! I don’t think it’s too harsh at all. I even refer to myself in as an imbecile in the first sentence and I’m certainly far from knowing everything. Just doing the best I can!

  5. Liked it . Good luck for new book and the cover seems the cover of this article .Cannot wait to read when it comes out . You have an amazing power of writing and you really have lot of skills to put experiences in to words . Appreciate each one which you write in your blog . All the best again !

  6. Agree that you must surround yourself with the right people, and it’s a nice tweak to do that by avoiding the wrong ones, that’s even more important.

    It’s a struggle for me to surround myself with the right people, I know how to NOT surround myself with imbeciles (even though you went so hard on them in this post 😀 ), but that leaves me alone sometimes.

    And yes, it’s good news to hear that you’re planning to write a book, I would read anything that you write, no kidding, you’ve got that unique voice 🙂

  7. Hey Vincent…loved this article. However it’s made me realise I fit every one of your imbecile points! How the heck do I stop and become an un-imbecile?

    • Let’s break down the four points together:

      1) Don’t bombard people with constant questions after questions. You won’t remember all of the answers anyway and best case scenario, you’ll repulse the other person. Have normal conversations, connect, and relate. You’ll learn without having to explicitly ask like it’s an interview.

      Also, remember people have things to do. Be conscious of the time you take from them.

      2) Don’t try to give unsolicited advice (unless you’re truly an expert and the other person hinted at needing advice). It’s awkward to receive advice when you didn’t ask for it, even worse when it comes from someone with no authority or background.

      3) This one’s easier. Give value. Do nice things for others. Don’t keep begging but never giving. Someone buys you a drink? Get the next round.

      4) Don’t be a one-upper. It’s better to have a tinge of mystery to you and let others draw your story out of you then to shout it from the rooftops when no one was wondering in the first place.

      • Old habits are hard to break :-/ Thanks for taking the time to reply though – means a lot! If I keep trying hopefully I can turn around the friendship with my best friend – I have been doing all of the above to her so much that the relationship may be beyond repair 🙁

  8. I loved your article, Vincent, BUT I fear I may be one of those imbeciles of whom you speak so eloquently. I want to lead a wealthy life, but I do not trust any possible value I may provide. The things I am best at and those I know the most about do not seem particularly lucrative, and I never do feel like my knowledge and skills are ever sufficient. I am like a white elephant, valuable, yes, but without demand for anything I can provide.

    Clearly you are providing self-awareness, and to my eyes, it is like looking in the mirror and seeing the face of Medusa; since the horrible sight is a reflection, I cannot enjoy the oblivion of becoming stone…

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