Five Signs That You Might Be a Tool

Posted 07.09.2010

Tools If you’re a sports fan and hang around with teenagers and college students on a regular basis, you might be suspecting that today’s post is inspired by LeBron James. Actually, it’s not although anyone who doesn’t bother to call his hometown employer of seven years before announcing on a prime time special dedicated to his fabulousness that “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat” should be in the running for tool.

No, the idea for this post came up a couple of days ago when I was talking with my college age son, my high school junior son and one of their friends, Zac, about what makes someone a tool. The reason I asked is because I frequently hear them saying things like, “That guy is such a tool.”  I first looked up the word on Urban Dictionary and found that being a tool is in the eye of the beholder. There are a lot of varied definitions of tool on Urban Dictionary, none of them flattering.

So, using my go-to coaching move of asking questions I don’t know the answer to, I asked Andy (20), Brad (16) and Zac (16),  “What do tools do exactly?”  The first answer I got back was they act tool-like. That didn’t really help much so I kept digging with questions. When the conversation got a little more specific, they came back with a list of behavioral signs that in my experience apply to populations much broader than high school and college age young men. 

So here’s their list of five signs that you might be a tool. As you read this list, you may conclude that you’re working with some tools. God forbid, you might start to realize you’ve been engaging in some tool-like behaviors yourself. That’s OK. It’s better to know than to not know, isn’t it?

Five Signs That You Might Be a Tool
  1. You have an unrelenting focus on your personal goals that gets in the way of practicing basic social decencies.
  2. Unless you calculate that someone can do something for you, you don’t pay much attention to them.
  3. You are unable to have a conversation with someone without in some way tying it back to your agenda.
  4. You act like you’re all that.
  5. You have a Mohawk. (That one is likely high school exclusive.)

A few other clarifying points. If you work with a few tools, that’s a tool box. If it’s an office full of tools, that’s a tool shed. And if you work in a whole company full of tools, that’s a Home Depot. (The guys meant that figuratively, not literally. No offense to all of the fine people at the actual Home Depots.)

So, now that we’ve started the list for you, what would you add? What are the other signs that you might be a tool?