Strabismus is a visual problem in which the eyes are not aligned properly and point in different directions. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward.
-American Academy of Ophthalmology
I have seen a lot of wealthy tech execs with strabismus being interviewed about their success on Bloomberg television. One of the most interesting examples is the former Survey Monkey CEO David Goldberg (who suffered an untimely death from a treadmill accident).
How do tech executives get so far in life and get so rich without repairing their strabismus?
Strabismus surgery is covered by health insurance and involves a simple 45 minute outpatient procedure. The procedure is extremely safe and is performed in both young children and adults. So the obstacle is not cost, not time, and not safety.
The most likely explanation is that these wildly successful people simply don’t know about the availability of repair. These wall-eyed geniuses may have the secret sauce and street cred to become wildly successful in turning a tech startup into a multi-billion dollar success story, but they are blind to the benefits of strabismus correction.
Admittedly, there is a secondary gain from not repairing a strabismus. An uncorrected strabismus may confer a business advantage as it can be difficult for others to read the face of someone with strabismus. Professional poker players wear dark sunglasses for a reason. People normally reveal critical unspoken information through their eyes. I can only imagine what a superpower this would be for negotiating deals in a board room.
Just because someone demonstrates expertise and success in one area of life does not make that person an expert in other areas of life. Unfortunately, successful people often assume that it does, and they can unwittingly intimidate to those around them, shutting down the flow of useful information. We all know people who are superstars in their careers but notoriously poor decision makers in other parts of their life, whether it be in dating, personal health, or money management.
We have all heard about how Steve Jobs rejected the advice of his oncologists and delayed treatment for his cancer, in favor of organic juices and acupuncture. This story is sure to displace Greek tragedy in the definition hubris in history books.
There is one big step in between knowing nothing and signing over your body or your money to an expert. That step is knowing if the solution you are being offered is a bad idea. If you are uncertain about your investing skills, signing over your life savings to an expensive financial advisor would be akin to Steve Jobs trusting a slick shaman offering tasty juices instead of the surgery and toxic cocktails being recommended by board-certified oncologists. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Over 15% of UBS advisors and over 15% of Wells Fargo advisors were disciplined for misconduct, mostly for stealing or sneakily enriching themselves at the expense of their clients. While it is true that we lack expertise in most areas of life, we can educate ourselves enough to decide who has the shaman juice and who has the cure.