Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Superman Complex

If there's one thing I've learned in my years as a working man, it's that if you want something done right you've got to do it yourself. Simply put, nobody does things as well or as thoroughly as I do them.

Except that's not true at all, and arrogance like that is one of my least favorite personal faults.

There are many things that can cause a superman complex, many of which seem benign. Some people do believe that others are incapable of doing things correctly, or that they can't be trusted to perform adequately. However, I suspect that most instances of the superman complex comes from an overwhelming sense of responsibility, and such a noble-sounding trait can be difficult to identify as a flaw.

I've exhibited this trait for as long as I've been working, even since I was a stock boy at a local grocery store. For me, everything needed to be perfect and done right the first time. I was a bit slow at the job at first, but even then my work was often appreciated. Unlike most of my co-workers, I had some pride in my work: if it was my responsibility, it needed to be done well.

That sense of pride followed me to Gamestop, where nobody but nobody could organize the shelves as well as I could. I also did well as a salesman and was generally affable, which gave me the arrogance to take certain liberties--ignore certain rules that I didn't feel was important. I stopped pushing for pre-orders, since I thought they were dumb. I broke dress code regularly. I would play music in the store using my phone.

And you know what? I got away with it because I was awesome at my job.

That mindset was probably even okay at the time. As it turns out, "doing everything myself" was something I could actually manage because, really, my responsibilities were small. However, I quickly found myself overwhelmed when I worked in jobs where I had more responsibilities.

Fangamer is my clearest example. When I first started working here full time, I handled the whole mailroom by myself, handled our partners, and even handled customer service sometimes. Then we grew, and I soon found I had no choice but to relinquish control, one responsibility at a time.

It was hard at first. I felt lazy for a long time after I relinquished control of the mailroom, as partner management became more and more of a full time job. Now I'm not even the sole partner manager, but sharing that responsibility turned out to be fairly easy. Now, with most of my responsibilities delegated, I actually have time to be creative, to innovate, and (most importantly to me) to spend some time in the mailroom again.

Maybe I haven't really learned anything.

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