Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Want Power

Today is The Ides of March, which is most famous for being the day that was foreseen by a soothsayer regarding the fate of Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. He did not heed the warning and was stabbed in the back by Senators in one of history's most memorable coup d'etats.

In the evening, I attended my normal Thursday night class at the Presbyterian church on my route from where I change buses in the evening commute. We've been watching a series on the major religions of the world and are now watching the videos on specific spiritual movements, such as Native American spirituality last week and tonight was on African and African-American spirituality. One guy gives me a ride home afterwards and he does say some interesting things in the discussion we have after viewing the film. His wife is an ex-Mormon but I don't think he was ever a member of the LDS church.

Anyhow, on the ride home, we somehow got on the topic of power and why people abuse it and is it possible for a person to have power and use it wisely? He doesn't believe so, but I believe that it is possible, if not rare. That's when I said: "Well, I want power just to see how well I handle it. I want God to give me that test."

His response was, "You'd just be like everyone else who gets a little power and abuse it."

I told him that I did not think so, because I think I'm more conscientious than most people about how my actions could affect others. I strive to live by the Golden Rule and I do believe that Karma is a universal law. Since I believe in reincarnation, I want the best possible future life experience opportunities as possible, so I think I would be judicious in how I use power. Plus, one of the biggest influences on my thinking is the film Casualties of War, because as a 17 year old, I completely identified with Michael J. Fox's conscientious soldier who refuses to participate in the rape and murder of an innocent Vietnamese girl. I have never been able to watch that film without crying, as it is the most powerful film I've ever seen. I don't watch it often because it is emotional difficult to watch, but I always draw strength from the fact that I identify strongly with Michael J. Fox's character.

I mentioned to the guy that when I was in the military, I did not go along with what other guys were doing. Yeah, I saw abuse of power in basic training, when the company commander gave a few recruits leadership positions. These recruits turned out to be even worse than the company commanders! For those that were abusive in their power, I would try to undermine their authority through sarcastic comments and outright disobedience. In fact, my belligerent disregard for one recruit's leadership resulted in him turning in a letter to the company commander resigning his position and refusing to take responsibility for anyone other than his wife and child. The letter was mocked when the company commanders read it to the company. Yeah, I take credit for disposing of a tyrant. I do not like abuses of power. Its a big reason why my focus of study in college was on human rights.

If I were given power, I believe I have enough internal safeguards to prevent me from being corrupted by it. The reason I want power is because I am growing tired of working for morons in leadership positions. As a few people have told me, this is called "The Peter Principle", where people rise to the level of their incompetence and that's where they stay and is the reason why so many organizations are hopelessly dysfunctional. As a lifelong "Meritocrat" (I admit that I was enthralled by the idea when I learned about it in grade school, especially since it was an idea associated with one of my favourite Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson), I would love to work in an organization (or to form one of my own) where a true meritocracy exists. The management would be aware of people's work ethic and abilities / talents that promotions would be based on those who perform well, not on who kisses the most ass and does it the best.

Perhaps my problem has been that I never saw myself as a manager, due to the fact that I've seen so many managers who were incompetent, clueless, and uninspiring. I did not want to be like them and I believed for so long that something about management turns people into mundane zombies. Perhaps it is time to test out the principles of Law of Attraction and start thinking of myself as a leader and not shy away from it. After all, my preference for deferring leadership to others has only led to disappointment as I've watched organizations promote people who lack the personal ethics and values that make for a great leader. In terms of leadership, my role model is more Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel than Donald Trump and Mitt Romney.

Is it wrong to want power? The older I get, the more I want it so that I can make a difference in the life and health of an organization. It is time for people with a spiritual and ethical vision to take command and show organizations how to transform work environments into high energy, inspiring places to work. Work life doesn't have to be mundane, boring, and oppressive, with fear running rampant. I really wish more people would have a spiritual worldview and learn to live by the principles of the Golden Rule. People who abuse their power should lose it and those who are responsible should be given the opportunity to experiment with it. If I am entrusted with power, I would make certain that I used it only for good and I think I have enough self-restraint and spiritual knowledge to not abuse it. After all, my favourite quote from the Bible is: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his very soul?"

The figure below seems to be most people's idea of power, but not mine. That is the ego's desire to make someone submit to your authority. I'm not interested in that. I have no use for the ego's need to be worshiped and adored. I would find such behaviour embarrassing. For me, power is merely a means to get things done. How you get things done is where you need to be cautious. This is where leadership gets made or falls apart. I'd like to have my opportunity to give leadership a try. It probably begins by thinking of myself as a leader and getting rid of the old idea I've carried for more than twenty years now (that I am neither a leader nor a follower). After seeing so many people in leadership positions abuse their trust or be completely incompetent at it, I KNOW I can do a better job because I'm smarter than they are, I'm more conscientious, and I like getting to know what people's best skills are and making things work. A new day is coming and this requires a new kind of leader. Why not me?

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