“They mystify me,” Tory told the Toronto Sun. “They mystify me because you can pass all the rules you want, have all the policies you want, but you can’t legislate common sense. Most of what you see in these expense reports defies common sense.”
John Tory is a smart man, one who has received political communications training. He gets the emotional context of communication and, in theory, knows how not to walk into PR pitfalls.
Yet he was surprised that people took offense to his comment about women needing to golf to get ahead.
Stephen Harper is, supposedly, a non-nonsense kind of guy - except he gets caught up in quagmires of nonsense all the time of the sort he could and should have seen coming. Everything from Duffygate to the Veterans file to Dean del Mastro and the like are avoidable headaches.
I could go on and on about the smart, successful people who apparently have common sense in abundance and yet are blind to the obvious.
Pointing out hypocrisy is easy; for some, it's even a cynically enjoyable process, though it invariably comes back to haunt us.
What's more interesting is why. Why do executives on the public dollar act like executives on the private dollar? Why does "proceed until apprehended" end up having selfish connotations in a eat-what-you-kill economic environment?
Behaviour is math. When you understand the variables, you can predict the outcomes. When you know where certain paths lead you and know why and how, you stand at least a chance of doing something about it.
But not if you're confident in your superiority. When you think "I am smart, they are dumb" you blind yourself to the truth - that none of us are superior.
When you feel superior, you feel no need for introspection, nor for empathy; you think you can reshape the landscape to suit your interests, because you're that powerful.
Which is a recipe for failure.
Know yourself; know your opponent; know the terrain. It's an ancient lesson, yet one that is still commonly ignored.