Crying Hypocrite is a Character Flaw

Crying Hypocrite is a Character Flaw

To cry hypocrite is a character flaw, and henceforth, I implore you to banish such beliefs from your mind if you desire high-performance and achievement in all areas of life. While this may seem controversial, there is sound logic and reason in my explanation to follow. And that so many of us get stuck in this line of thinking is not entirely our fault, for we have been conditioned by society to ridicule the hypocrite in favor of the righteous. In my humble opinion, I believe we've all been taught wrong in regards to hypocrisy, specifically in how we react to and think about those we deem hypocritical in our lives. We should embrace the opportunity for self-improvement the "hypocrite" presents us, and the real issue, the real reason why so many take offense to the hypocrite, is the inability of the overwhelming majority of us to separate the message from the messenger. As is so often the case, our ego is the enemy, and as a whole, we love letting an invaluable message go to waste because of our bias towards the messenger.

I believe there is a better way, and my goal today, while not to convert you to my exact line of thinking, is to open your mind to the possibility that there is an alternative. I guarantee my path, when embraced fully, and with all the intellectual vigor you can muster, will help you perform better in life, and become a better person in general. You will engage in fewer meaningless, mindless arguments, and good-natured, deeply philosophical debates will lead you further to truth and understanding. In short, the ideas I put forth today will lower your stress levels and improve your "life performance" - you must only open your mind to the possibility that everything you've learned about hypocrisy is wrong. Without bias, can you separate the message from the messenger?

"Do as I say, not as I do" should not be seen in a negative light. If you are like me, you grew up learning that hypocrisy is wrong, that hypocrites are evil, and that only those who "walk the walk" should "talk the talk" and so on and so forth. But why? Who made such rules, and why do we blindly follow them? Proverbs 27:17 states that "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." It does not say that one perfect man sharpens another, or that one righteous man sharpens another. Knowing that we are all sinful, and that all of us are flawed, if we were to take this hypocrisy nonsense seriously, we would not take meaningful advice from anyone, for we are all hypocrites; surely we've all been hypocritical in one way shape or form (or many ways!) throughout our lives.

What we must learn to do, and this is the overarching point of this entire article, is to separate the message from the messenger. We must find and see the truth and understanding in the ideas put forth, if any, regardless of the moral and character qualities of the messenger. The message is the key, not the messenger, and this is where those that fall into the trap of hypocrisy bias get it wrong. Is the message true? Is there meaningful wisdom contained therein? If the answer is yes, and truth is real, does it matter in the end who gives us the advice or offers the critique?

Suppose an obese doctor advises his obese patient to shape up, explaining that obesity is a risk factor for quite a few health issues down the road. What about the sinful pastor who in turn urges his congregation not to sin? Should athletes listen to health and training advice from coaches (with soda in hand) who do not follow said advice themselves? We are routinely passed by speeding police cars on highways, yet those same officers issue tickets to us for speeding. Don't drink says the alcoholic; don't do drugs says the addict. Lying is wrong, yet how many of us have told a tall tale or two in our day? Life is full of examples of people preaching one thing and doing another, and no doubt you can think of countless more examples in politics, pop culture, sport, etc..

If you take issue with any of the above examples, in the kindest way possible, I submit to you that the real you. Ego is the enemy, and your inability to separate the message from the messenger is a character flaw on your part, and is holding you back from the aforementioned higher levels of what I like to call "life performance."

Let us take the example of the obese doctor further for the sake of the debate. Written on a blank piece of paper is the following:

"You should lose weight, obesity is a health risk, and you are looking at severe consequences down the road if you do not lose weight."

Taken as is, the overwhelming majority of intelligent Americans will agree, and you will surely be hard-pressed to find those that disagree. Now, suppose these same Americans are presented with two different doctors, both of whom made this same statement. One is quite fit indeed, with a muscular, athletic build, and a neat, tidy appearance to match. The other is obese himself, slightly unkept, and messy in appearance. He clearly isn't a health and fitness devotee, and if he is, you certainly wouldn't have guessed it from his picture.

Now quiz yourself. Do you take the advice as any more or less "true" depending on who authored the quote? And if so, why? The truth is the truth, regardless of the waistline of the messenger, no?

And sadly, the above example plays out daily in American life, in a variety of situations and professions. Even though we know the advice to be true, we would be less inclined to take it from the obese doctor, and more apt to listen coming from the fit doctor. As if the exercise habits of the doctors had any bearing on the accuracy of their statement? If a "hypocrite" gives you meaningful, authentic advice, and your first response contains a "but" followed by an excuse not to take said advice, the flaw is within you, not the hypocrite.

As my profession is coaching, let me use the above soda example from the athletic world. Suppose a swimming coach, again with a Coke in hand, tells her athletes not to drink soda because it is unhealthy, contains myriad of sugar, can cause unnecessary weight gain, and leads to decreased athletic performance. If the first response of the athletes is something to the tune of:

"But she is drinking soda, who is she to tell me what to do if she does it too?" 

Those athletes have fallen into the hypocrisy trap, and it is their performance that will suffer should they continue the soft drink habit. The fact that the messenger herself drinks soda in no way shape or form changes the fact, the truth, that soda does not aid in improved athletic performance, and in many cases is a detriment to said performance. These athletes have failed to separate the message from the messenger, and just like the overweight patient who ignores truth from his obese doctor, their ego and hypocrisy bias has prevented them from seeing the wisdom for what it is - truth.

In my younger days, I must admit fell into this trap, ignoring or downplaying useful advice because I did not think the messenger was up to snuff. "Who is he to tell me what to do? Look at him!" I would say. "Why doesn't he follow his advice first? Who does he think he is?" And so on and so forth. In the end, the joke was on me, and what a fool I was. Unable to separate the flawless message from the flawed messenger, I missed out on advice that at the time would have made me a better man, and I had no one to blame but myself.

Now years later, realizing we are all flawed in many ways, I seek the truth and understanding in all messages, and from all messengers, regardless of whether society might call them hypocrites or they do not follow their own advice. Without a bias towards said messenger, I examine the message itself. Is it true? Is it right? Is it just? If so, fantastic, I will learn from it, regardless of whether or not the messenger is a righteous fellow (he isn't). If a chap who sleeps 4 hours a night by choice lectures me on the benefits of sleeping more, I will listen and agree wholeheartedly, for I have long ago taught myself to focus on the content of the message, not on the shortcomings of the one attempting to pour into me.

Thus, if we are serious about self-improvement and increasing our performance in all areas of life, let us ban once and for all the useless talk of hypocrisy and hypocrites. And it truly is useless talk, for if we took it seriously, we wouldn't take advice from anyone here on earth, for again we are all hypocrites. Instead, let us embrace those who speak truth and wisdom into our lives, regardless of whether or not they first follow their advice. Is it true? Is it right? Is it just? The messenger may or may not follow his advice, but that is not our concern. His doing so or not doing so does not change the facts, and we would be wise to listen if self-improvement is our goal.

If you ignore or disregard good advice because you have a problem with the messenger, the heart of the problem is with you. You are practicing deflection by turning the truth, which yes, might be painful for your ego to hear, into an attack on the character or moral compass of the messenger, in a delusional attempt to make yourself feel better. Hypocrisy is a good thing, and I embrace the hypocrites in my life, for at the very least they are speaking up! In the same way that an imperfect book published provides more value to the world than a perfect book that goes unpublished, so a "hypocrite" who speaks truth into the lives of others provides more value to said life than a righteous man who stays silent.

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