by Niall Doherty

I find that the people I admire most usually have some specific characteristic(s) I’d like to develop myself. For example, I tend to admire people who…

  • Don’t care much what others think of them
  • Are great public speakers
  • Are very competent in business
  • Call people on their bullshit

Let’s focus on that last one for a minute.

I think of someone like Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He doesn’t sugarcoat things. If he thinks someone is acting like an idiot, he’ll tell them straight, to their face.

I believe this is the difference between being a nice guy and being a good guy.

  • Nice guys tell people what they want to hear. Good guys tell people what they need to hear.
  • Nice guys seek approval. Good guys seek truth.
  • Nice guys make friends. Good guys make a difference.

For all the progress I’ve made in not caring so much what other people think of me, I still struggle to call people on their bullshit.

This became especially evident recently while I was trying to teach web design to a couple of guys in Nepal. There were many times where it would have been in their best interest for me to be tough and call them on weak excuses for slow progress. But instead of doing that, I often defaulted to nice-guy mode, avoiding short-term pains and thus sacrificing long-term gains.

I realize now that this is something I need to break, this nice-guy habit. I don’t believe it serves me or others very well. Going forward I’ll be making more of a conscious effort to call people on their bullshit.

A likely outcome of doing this is that I’ll sometimes go too far and upset some folks. A lot of people aren’t willing to face their bullshit. Ideally I’d be able to differentiate between those who are and those who aren’t. A more nurturing and supportive approach would be required for the latter.

Quite honestly though, I’d rather surround myself with people who are willing to face their bullshit. Such people are more mature, more interested in improving themselves, more likely to make a positive difference in the world.

Being less of a nice guy and more of a good guy should help me attract those kinds of people while repelling others.

How about you?

Are you a nice guy or a good guy? Do you call people on their bullshit (to their face; commenting anonymously on the Internet doesn’t count)?