Chris Illuminati on the facts and fiction of getting your own way

All of us want to be successful in life. Of course, this is easier said than done. 
Photo: Chris Illuminati with his son AP

FLORIDA, December 4, 2012 — We all want to follow our dreams and, somewhere down the road, find success.

Of course, this is far easier said than done. In order to seriously pursue a goal — whether in business, romance, or perhaps something else entirely — a positive, productive mindset is essential.

Very often, the ambitious in our society are derided as pushy, ostentatious, and, well, things a bit more unflattering. Is this actually the case or just the ramblings of people who are accustomed to taking cheap shots from the cheap seats?

Chris Illuminati has written a great deal about what it takes to get one’s own way. As both a contributor to some of today’s most popular magazines and an author in his own right, he has made it a point to educate others about turning life’s trickier situations to their advantage. In a refreshingly honest discussion, he tells us about the value of assertiveness, how important personal confidence is while pursuing a goal, whether or not nice guys really finish last, and much more.      

Joseph F. Cotto: When faced with a tough decision, most people rely on feelings rather than thought. In your view, is this necessary if one wants to be assertive?

Chris Illuminati: It’s human nature to think of feelings — both personal and those of others — when making decisions, but a person can make it the sole reason in decision-making. A person can’t take action just because someone will be hurt/happy because of that action. A good example is when friends ask for  favors — people tend to say yes to favors on the sole reason of the friend not being mad/unhappy with them even if the favor makes the person asked unhappy. It doesn’t make sense to always put the feelings, wishes and wants of others in front of their own.

Cotto: Many people would say that in the long run, acting too assertive is sure to create more adversaries than allies. Do you agree with this idea?

Illuminati: The only adversaries will be the people that don’t like your decisions. With every decision comes new adversaries and allies. You can’t spend your life thinking about who your friends/enemies are.

Cotto: How important would you say that personal confidence is while pursuing a goal?

Illuminati: Incredibly important. If you don’t believe in yourself, why would anyone else? People can smell a faker from a mile away.

Cotto: Over the last several years, many have come to believe that chivalry is no longer a social norm in America. Do you think that the decline of chivalry is a bad thing? Why or why not?

Illuminati: There is a difference between being assertive and just being a jerk. I 100% believe in chivalry. It’s a lost art.

Cotto: “Nice guys finish last” is a very popular saying. From your standpoint, is there any truth to it?

Illuminati: Nice guys finishing last was probably a saying made famous by a nice guy that just didn’t put in the effort. That’s why he finished last. There are plenty of successful people that are also good-hearted.

Cotto: In your opinion, is it possible to be empathetic toward others while trying to get one’s own way? 

Illuminati: It’s possible, but not always practical. In every decision, someone is getting screwed. It’s just a fact. 

Cotto: Looking at history, it would seem that most human actions take place on the basis of perceived self-interest. Do you find this to be the case?

Illuminati: Of course. We don’t do things for other people. We don’t wake up, go to work, and do everything else for our neighbor. We do it for us. People have to have their own self- interest in mind at all times.  

Cotto: It has been said that there is no such thing as a truly selfless act. Do you agree with this idea?

Illuminati: I agree, but some acts are a little less selfish than others. For example, take the horrible hurricane tragedies along the East Coast. People should do anything they can to help, but when they do, they tend to give themselves a little pat on the back for it. Think about all the people you know that have donated time, money and supplies? How do you know? They probably told you, in a slightly bragging type of way. It’s just human nature. 

Cotto: What inspired you to write about how people might get their own way?

Illuminati: After years of people walking all over me to get what they wanted. You tend to learn quickly. 

Cotto: Now that our discussion is at its end, tell us a bit about your life and career.

Illuminati: Hmmm, how not to make this boring. I’m a guy from New Jersey that never really left the state. I’ve written three humor books. I make wise comments on Twitter. I’m a husband and dad with a kid on the way. I’ve got a cat named Stephen. 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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