Career Advice For Twentysomethings: Careful of hubris

This is a story from the past. It still stings a bit. But I share to help some of Career Counseling Connecticut’s twentysomethings. Of course, names and some key details have been changed.
I was happy to hire Martin to work for The Learning Consultants. Having graduated UCONN with an English degree, he was underemployed at an insurance company in Hartford where he did customer service. Martin is instantly likable and always had a passion to teach. He was one of the youngest tutors I’ve ever hired for The Learning Consultants since we normally only hire those with graduate level education or who have significant teaching experience.
While Martin made some typical rookie mistakes, he was generally very strong.  He also had an interest in the business.  Most of our teachers do not.  This made Martin a good candidate to eventually take on a bigger role in the company.
Martin’s energy, charisma, and genuine love of teaching brought him early success. I overlooked his impatience and occasional bragging. Young, I thought. Humility was not his strength. But I wondered if I came across that way when I was 24.
Gradually, though, Martin’s impatient requests came across as entitled demands. My challenge as a boss is that I get lost in my counselor role where I try to see the best in everyone.
The Director of our Middlesex County Office told me that he found some of Martin’s comments jarring as Martin was planning his ascension to the top of our company out loud even though he had worked at The Learning Consultants for less than a year.  Moreover, he seemed to think his success was entirely through his own efforts and unrelated to the significant support he was getting from me and others in the company.
While I filed those notes away, I still rooted for him. Martin wanted to open up an office in a different part of Connecticut and I thought that his ego – while problematic occasionally – would serve him well in a leadership role as he would need to appear confident to clients.
Then… we had an incident… which to this day serves as the only time I’ve ever had cross words with an employee in the 15 years of running different companies. I offered Martin a great opportunity to help me with a project. This was an opportunity that would give him more money and a great opportunity for growth.  I chose him over a dozen others who would have gladly taken the opportunity.  Martin said “yes.” 
When the project was about to start, Martin called because he wanted to talk. He had reviewed the numbers related to the project and thought he should get more money. His manner of asking and his method of arguing his points revealed hubris (exaggerated pride) that was astonishing.  I had to remind him that the money being generated from the project had nothing to do with him.  The revenue stemmed from the decade of good will generated by The Learning Consultants that preceded his appearance.  The work that I had offered him was a gift.
During the argument, more deficiencies in his character were revealed. He really was full of himself as he thought he was critical to company success. He had no clue that he was highly expendable.
​When I relayed the story to others who knew Martin, they were not surprised. They had noticed earlier than me that Martin, while strong in some areas, had a character flaw (hubris) that would bring him down. While I didn’t let Martin go (I always give people multiple chances), I did directly tell him that his star was no longer shining and that the road back would take some time. A few months later, he left to another ill-fitted customer service job.  He admitted that he did so out of panic.  I felt bad for him.
When I told this story to some of my contemporaries who run other companies in Connecticut, they all had similar stories to tell. The young upstart who ruined his/her opportunity due to hubris. Careful twentysomethings.