Poseurs, from Russ Sears

November 23, 2009 |

 Poseurs by definition are more concerned with appearances than substance.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that they have many of the same traits as the maladaptive perfectionist. What distinguishes these perfectionists from those that strive for excellence is need to appear perfect, not achieve the most possible. The effort and strive is to prop up self esteem, not truly to create, produce, inspire or discover.

The poseurs generally want to be seen as champions for excellence. They try to align themselves with the athlete, the artist, the scientist and the investor: those striving for excellence.

The perfectionist would rather cheat to win than lose.  They would rather display technical prose than display a moving performance that also displays the limits of their technical abilities.  They would rather be politically accepted and publically recognized as brilliant, than ostracized because of leading scientific advancement before the world is ready for it. They would rather front run, by cosing up with the central planners, than struggle betting good money to get the most effective allocation of resources.

The poseur and the perfectionist want the glory that rightfully belongs to the risks taker, the visionaries, the hard working and the dedicated. Study the perfectionist: their errors in thinking, their traits, and their failures; to also recognize the poseur.  The poseur however, comes with at least one notable difference to the perfectionist.  The poseur often comes with a good excuse why they are not capable of the actual pursuit of excellence.

Recognize excuses and perfectionism in others to avoid them in your life.





Speak your mind

10 Comments so far

  1. Steve Leslie on November 23, 2009 7:57 am

    excellent observation.

    In Ed Spec a major chapter is devoted to avoiding Hoodoos. Lil Abner had Joe Btfsplk the world's worst jinx. In "A Bronx Tale" there was a character nicknamed Mush who was the worlds worst gambler. In "The Cincinatti Kid" we meet "Pig" who never had much luck at all. In "The Cooler" William H. Macy plays Bernie Lootz who could cool off a gambling table just by playing it.

    It is unexplainable but there are those in life who are just plain unlucky or jinxed or whatever you want to call it who just get unfair treatment from the world. These poor souls are self-evident and easy to spot.

    The Poseur on he other hand can be a dangerous person. They can be the Alan Stanford type so suave so convincing so appealing that they draw their victim into the web and destroy them. Or they can be a Madoff who in addition to his charm and connections was scheming and brilliant two very dangerous skills to have in one person. They destroy everything in their path and are so disconnected from any emotion that they are completely unaffected by the tragic results that their schemes produce for the vulnerable and ill-informed.

    My excellent friend once said "There are good people in the world and there are bad people and in order to survive you need to learn to tell the difference."

  2. Russell Sears on November 23, 2009 11:53 am

    One thing I would like to add:

    Those striving for excellence learn to adapt and evolve. Those striving for perfection and posing, vest largely in the grading system. They are experts at manipulating their grade under that system. They, therefore, have a vested interest in maintaining and keeping the faulty system rather than adapt. The perfectionist pushing the system beyond its usefulness cause systematic failures and makes adaptation more important and frequent.

  3. ld on November 23, 2009 9:31 pm

    Mr. Sears seems to have painted poseurs and perfectionists with the same negative light. I respectfully disagree with some of the comments about perfectionists. Unless my understanding is incorrect, perfectionists are also those unwilling to accept that which fails to meet their high standards, often too high for others who misunderstand them. The difference between the one who strives for excellence and the perfectionist is not clear.

  4. Russell Sears on November 24, 2009 12:00 pm

    Mr. Id

    I do believe that there is some confusion about what I wrote. My post was meant to help distinguish the talented but destructive perfectionist and those striving for excellence.

    I believe the experts, the true psychologist, generally label these 2 types as maladaptive perfectionist and the adaptive perfectionist. However, I believe the “adaptive perfectionist” is mislabeled. For those striving for excellence learn to experiment. They may be controlled experiments to limit the losses. But they are willing to suffer losses to create.

    Certainly, to obtain excellence some things must be mastered or perfected. Technique for the artist is an example. While great technique is necessary it is not sufficient condition for excellence A perfectly technical executed instrument does not deliver great music. Too perfect music, in tone and technique sounds mechanical and artificial. Likewise playing scales are not inspirational.
    Those, whose goals are worthwhile, realize true perfection is illusive. They are willing to experiment, risks losses and learn from errors. Admittedly controlling losses, by limiting the losses, certainly is as important part of striving for excellence.

    As Mr. Leslie implies, I meant this as a test to help distinguish the clever, talented and charismatic con man , which may on the surface appear as a kindred spirit to the struggling for excellence, but in truth is full of deception. I believe it is telling that those that detected Madoff’s scam detected it by the returns being too perfect to be true.

    Likewise, often the cons I have detected, early or after the fact gave clues that they were such perfectionist. That perfection was obtainable only by them. They cannot display an error or lose or limits to their greatness. (The other alarm to Madoff was the size of the operation was too big to actually execute.)

    Clearly, not all such perfectionist are con men, they do all appear to be self-destructive and are poisonous to all those near them. The tennis star turned tell-all writer seems to display this. This is meant to help distinguish the allure of this destruction in ourselves and in others earlier and before the damage is done.

  5. legacy daily on November 24, 2009 9:50 pm

    Thank you for your response. I think I understand.

  6. vic niederhoffer on November 26, 2009 9:16 am

    What must never be gainsaid is how many poseurs there are in our midst in the markets. A litmus test for those who are not, say the remaining 10% would be good. but almost everything one hears, and sees, is part of a self-aggrandizing act, to talk one's position up or deflect attention from the chinks in the armor. Whenever I hear the Sage, or the Interior Secretary's talk, or the Philanphradome talk it is all like the litmus paper, that turns red, and everything else one hears should be compared to such to that base state of redness. The man who stands on his head while touting the fixed income over equities is yet another pure stain of red. vic

  7. lon evans on November 30, 2009 10:19 pm

    Dear Russ, Your having an aptness (as is obvious) in the terminology of the head shrink, no doubt you recognize the verbiage "cognitive dissonance" and "transference." Cheers, lon

  8. Russell Sears on December 1, 2009 4:37 pm

    Johnathan (alias Lon),
    as Carly Simon famously wrote…
    “you probably think this song is about you.”

  9. lon evans on December 4, 2009 10:49 pm

    Dear Russ,

    No, actually I think it’s about you.

    (I’m a man of many pseudonyms, Jonathan being one of them. Feeling played?)


  10. Russell Sears on December 8, 2009 6:43 pm

    Mr. pseudonym, that wrote prior that Johanthan is my real name
    Faking your real name certainly does not make me feel “played”. How is a pseudonyms, not posing as somebody you are not?

    Run any age group record miles lately?

    The only truth I see from your response is some perfectionist are beyond recognizing what is painfully obvious to those watching. But most will graciously look away.


Resources & Links