The Relentless Pull of Douchebag Gravity

By Rob Shaul


When reading this headline what came to mind for you was how the Douchebags of the world pull you down, wasn’t it?

Actually, the “Relentless Pull of Douchebag Gravity” comes not from others, but from our own selfishness and sense of self-importance that pulls us away from the principles of Quiet Professionalism, into the opposite world of Douchebagness.

Indeed, the pull of Douchebag Gravity is so strong, insidious and relentless, it is very difficult to make it through a single day without dipping at least our toes if not a full-on dunking into the self-important world of being a Douchebag. 

I know first hand it takes constant vigilance to not put oneself first and act accordingly in matters of business, mission, team, friendship, and family.

  • See something that needed fixing and didn’t fix it? That’s Douchebag Gravity.
  • Pulled rank to get a perk or take credit? Douchebag Gravity.
  • Break a promise and not follow through? Again, Douchebag Gravity.
  • Talk behind someone’s back? Douchebag Gravity.
  • Rude to the coffee barista or customer service rep? Douchebag Gravity.

A couple years ago I drafted up a “Guide to Douchebags” but didn’t publish the essay. As I continued to identify and type out the different Douchebag types, I was forced to acknowledge that I had too often acted in the exact same way being described.

I didn’t need to think about others to get the descriptions right. A brief, direct, unflinching self-examination of my own past intentions and actions gave me all the material I needed to write accurate descriptions.

I didn’t have to go far to find Douchebag examples. I only needed to look hard at myself.

Our “Quiet Professional” and “Douchebag” selves share equal space in our actions and intentions when we make the dozens of daily decisions on whether to put the mission first or ourselves.

The Douchebag self is always first in line. Instinctively we are pre-disposed to act in our own selfish self-interest.

Our Quiet Professional self has the greater task – first to pause the decision to allow reflection, then to successfully argue for putting the mission first. The Quiet Professional self doesn’t win every battle, but with practice and reflection, mission is put first more and more.

I dug around in my hard drive archives and found that old Douchebag guide – which I present below. As you read this – think not of others who meet the descriptions, but rather the times you have. Aim to do better, moving forward.


Douchebag Guide:

Huge Douchebag
An individual has to have leadership power to be a “Huge Douchebag.” These are common amongst high ranking military officers and successful business leaders. Often they are screamers, regularly humiliate and belittle subordinates, and have an extremely outsized idea of how important they are. When removed from their rank or office, they shrink dramatically in stature and appear pitifully naked.

Entitled Douchebag
This person works to get stuff for nothing, in fact, feels they are entitled to stuff for nothing. There’s no desire to pay their own way, or sense of responsibility. Rather, when they get something for nothing, they think they’ve won and got over on someone. Guilt? No way! They are proud of themselves! Further, when asked to pay their own way, they get offended.

Sneaky Douchebag
These seem like great people at first – often they are gregarious, friendly and outgoing …. then we start to notice things. They “forgot” their wallet for dinner. Don’t volunteer to do dishes or help with the less glamorous office jobs. Often are tardy or late, and can’t understand why this disrespects others.  We forgive them these issues at first because they are fun to be around, but soon we realize they can’t be relied upon and they lose our trust.

Passive Aggressive Douchebag
This breed says stuff like this, “Oh, that dress looks so good on you, it makes your waist look thinner than normal,” or, “You’ve done so well for yourself for someone with your upbringing.”

User Douchebag
This person acts like a friend, but in reality, is using you to get ahead. In middle school, this was the person who nicely asked to copy your math homework, then wouldn’t acknowledge you in the cafeteria. In work life, this was the person who claims colleagues’ or others’ work as their own, doesn’t share credit, and steps on others to get ahead.

Doesn’t Follow Through Douchebag
These identify themselves quickly. We partner for a joint project, identify individual tasks and deliverables. We keep our word and do our work. They don’t follow through on their agreed to tasks.

Two-Faced Douchebag
This breed tells us one story but tells everyone else another. This is also the individual who tells us he or she will support us in controversy, but stands idle at the moment of truth and leaves us flapping in the wind.

Old Retired Douchebag
This breed is angry, bitter, unappreciative, impatient and entitled. Fully capable and alert, they still live in the past and work hard to make everyone else miserable. This is why engaged, bright, content, humble and good-natured older people are such a delight to be around.

Doesn’t Do Their Share Douchebag
This is the person who disappears when there’s a dirty or unpleasant job to be done – dishes at home, taking his or her share of the make-work jobs in the office, etc.


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