Personal Development Hack: Prioritize By Irritation

I hate being micromanaged. And yet I have a tendency (at least sometimes) to micromanage others.

I hate it when people interrupt me. And yet I have a tendency to interrupt.

I hate disorder in others. And yet I can sometimes make other people bear the costs of my disorder.

It’s been said before, but it would bear being said again: “. . .the more we have [INSERT VICE HERE] ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.” (C.S. Lewis, insertion my own). 

My irritations change of course.

Sometimes I’m irritated by overbearing pride (while having a good-sized ego myself), or condescension (while being condescending), or perfectionism (while being perfectionistic). It really depends on the kind of people I’m encountering and living/working alongside.

All of these irritations – and the people who make them manifest for me – are my teachers. And they are telling me that I really have a lot of ****ed up character flaws.

But as brutal as this truth might be, it’s also a helpful place to start.

One helpful truth here? My irritation is a signal – and it’s a signal I can use to prioritize my self-improvement efforts effectively.

I probably will be irritated in some way by many, many things. So I should presumably start where the irritation is greatest. If I’m most irritated by being micromanaged, for instance, I should immediately seek to find the ways that I micromanage others.

There is a sort of karma out there that gives you exactly what you give to others – so this is a good first step. And I can have no real claim against micromanagement as a strategy if I am doing it myself.

This is counterintuitive, but to me it seems true. If I have a great irritation in my life that I want removed, I should probably start by ceasing to be that kind of irritation for others.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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