Quantcast
My Napoleon Complex - Scott Adams' Blog

My Napoleon Complex

I was born ambitious. I have no memory of being any other way. Something inside me needs to make things better, and not only for myself – just better in general. 

As you probably know, things have worked out well for me, career-wise, give or take a few bumps along the way. My ambition served me well, although it sometimes felt like a high-function mental illness. Let’s call it a grey area.

Anyway, I grew to an adult height of 5′8″. And in my culture, ambitious guys my height are widely considered to have something called a Napoleon Complex. The thinking is that our exaggerated sense of ego and ambition are some sort of attempt to compensate for our miniature stature. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I didn’t realize I was short until I was about ten years old. But I do recall having a serious ambition to be rich and famous since I was five. What happened after the age of ten, when I learned I would not play in the NBA, I’m not so sure. Lots of variables in play.

But here’s my real point:

What is the name we give to tall ambitious people?

Answer: Leaders

I’m not complaining. Compared to the tall, my knees are fabulous, my grocery bills are low, and my life expectancy is awesome. When I fly coach, it’s roomy and cheap. And I rarely bump my head. When I need a service that only a tall guy can perform, I rent one on the Internet and order him to do that work while I go to the gym with my perfectly functioning knees.

Okay, maybe I do have a Napoleon Complex. Whatever. Call me what you will.

All I ask is that we create some additional labels to cover all the categories of height and ambition. For example, we need a name for the tall people with minimal ambition that short people with ambition hire to carry heavy things upstairs for them. And we need a name for the tall and ambitious people that take up too much space. Let’s just label everything. 

Is that not fair?

Note: Yes, I know Napoleon was actually tall(ish) for his day.