The Curse of Being 'Brilliant'

I think one of the most over-used words in my profession is "brilliant." Like this new Supreme Court pick. It's a "brilliant choice" because John Roberts (search) is a "brilliant" judge and a "brilliant" thinker.

Well, I have a "brilliant" idea: Stop using the word, "brilliant."

Look, I don't know John Roberts at all. Certainly a guy who whizzes through Harvard undergrad and Harvard Law in record time isn't exactly a moron.

But "brilliant"?

Be careful. Calling anyone brilliant sets them up for failure.

They said Jimmy Carter (search) was brilliant. But he had a tough time impressing the world.

They said Ronald Reagan (search) definitely wasn't brilliant. But he changed the world.

Albert Einstein was so brilliant that he was weird. Jerry Lewis was so weird that he was brilliant.

You get my point? "Brilliant" can be your Achilles heel.

When Michael Eisner (search) took over Disney, he was brilliant. So much so, that his critics say he got arrogant. Then he wasn't brilliant. Then... he was gone.

Bernie Ebbers (search) was so brilliant that no one doubted him when he amassed an empire called WorldCom. Then the company went under and brilliant Bernie went to prison.

My dad used to say, "Neil, stay humble. In your case, it'll come in handy."

Which is why, I think I've avoided — dare I say "brilliantly" — ever being called "brilliant."

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Neil Cavuto serves as senior vice president, anchor and managing editor for both FOX News Channel (FNC) and FOX Business Network (FBN). He is anchor of FNC's Your World with Cavuto - the number one rated cable news program for the 4 p.m. timeslot - as well as the FNC Saturday show Cavuto on Business. He also hosts Cavuto on FBN weeknights at 8 p.m. In addition to anchoring daily programs and breaking news specials on FNC and FBN, Cavuto oversees business news content for both networks and FNC's weekend business shows, including Bulls & Bears, Forbes on Fox, and Cashin' In. Click here for more on Neil Cavuto.