Let me cite a couple of television shows to exemplify what I mean. One is a comedy and the other is a reality show. One is about delusion and the other about denial. First, the comedy:
Breathing one’s own ether is the reason I have a hard time watching The Office. Its central character in the American version, Michael Scott is played so well by Steve Carell that it is painful for me to enjoy. The character is delusional. He believes he knows everything and that he is a great boss. Grant you, good comedy relies on a dose of pathos. If only Michael wouldn’t believe his own bull, but then the show would become a tragedy. In business, it frequently is a tragedy and Michaels exist more than you might think.
The reality show about people breathing their own ether is Kitchen Nightmares. Gordon Ramsay’s confrontational style aside, his clients are beyond delusional, they are in denial. It is kind of like watching grown people having their faces rubbed in their own poop by the genial bombastic “Chef” with a capital C. The owners that Ramsay confronts have signed on for abuse when they insist that wrong is right. Although I have entered the frontier of outright confrontation in my practice, you do not get letters of endorsement with bombast. Nor am I producing a reality style show.
Whether it results in delusion or denial, the problem is that the behavior becomes an obstacle to success. Michael Scott and Ramsay’s restaurateurs are in their own way.
If I were to produce a show about the management consulting practice, I would call it Extreme Make-Over: Business Edition. Come to think of it, let me slap on my own invisible mask and take a whiff or two. Heck, I could sell it to Cadillac, or Donald Trump, or Budweiser, that’s it. I could star in it too; I used to be a TV weatherman and was every bit as good as David Letterman. It will be perfect for Fox or the Learning Channel. We’re talking, you know. Are my lips moving?