Have you ever heard or read the report about a person…and you wonder either in consternation or in admiration…until your perception about this person is shattered or your reality is rocked by unknown revelations and insights about this person(s)?
I read a book very recently, “A Prisoner in His Palace” by Will Bardenwerper …stumbled upon it while reading another book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S Navy Seals Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink. (A very interesting book I would recommend for anyone seeking to build a team and run an efficient organisation). And the book shattered my illusions about Saddam Hussein, the late ex-ruler of Iraq. Did he do as accused and projected in western media? What was that side of him revealed in the book? Well…I won’t put in any spoilers…but I can assure you, you would see how crucial it is to have friends…real friends and people who would not shy away to tell you the truth about an issue(s) and would love you…not for what you can give them, but for according them respect and dignity, by paying attention and caring enough about them despite perceived differences.
In my short experience on earth, I have encountered people, who never met me one or one, or perhaps related with me at a distance, but they had formed an opinion of me, based on hearsay hence judge me without first even getting to know the real me.
A pretty junior colleague resumed in my organisation and had to share office space with me. I had no problem as long as she doesn’t disturb others within that space and does her job. So her direct line manager happened to ask her to develop powerpoint slides for presentation…mind you, she is a rookie on the job. So she approached me for assistance, and I guided her on what to do, showed her the templates…basically the key fundamentals wherein she can now build upon as she practices the more. She did the slide, showed it to her line manager who instantly commented, “I can see Sam’s handiwork here…right?” I have gone further to counsel, offer guidance and be a big brother to her and during that period she opened up and said, “the you that I see is totally different from the you I use to hear about and had imagined…you are disciplined and firm on the job but at the same time you care enough to ensure people around you succeed and you show them how to navigate the pitfalls”.
I was quite humbled by it…and I have heard such comments from different people who say, “I have heard differently about you than what I am seeing now!” And there are others, who held on to what they had heard or perceived and it affected sadly, a good work relationship.
The thrust of this whole conversation is the fact that, you do not judge a book by its cover. And more often than not, that book just requires someone to pick it up and revel in the insight, adventure, drama, story, highs and low inside it to know the worth of the book. So likewise, those in power or positions of authority.
People in positions of authority in any form get deluded about their invincibility and infallibility in decision making even in the face of dire consequences. Of course, taking tough decisions is the hallmark of leaders but there are some decisions that require multitude of counsel and a review of facts and data on ground.
But who dares to offer a suggestion to a leader that perhaps his line of reasoning is faulty or wrong? Everyone wants to look good in the book of the boss and not be tagged as the one who rocks the boat always. Hence sycophancy steps in, conscience and truthfulness flies out through the window.
A leader who surrounds himself or herself with yes-men has set up court for the devil and his minions to romp and play. His or her downfall would be mighty and we have several examples around us to attest to this.
Anyone in power, needs to realize that power is transient, and absolute power belongs only to the Supreme One. Any other that lays claim is been delusional. So once you are in position of power, you need to work and think like today would be the last day and what footprints you would be leaving in the sands of time… to be known for in the annals of history, either as a renowned leader of good or evil.
In conclusion, what do you want to be known for long after you have left the scene? A person caught in his or her own power trappings or as the person who utilized that position for a greater good. People will not always understand the reason behind an action(s) that you do… but what counts is the bigger picture of good that you see and you are working towards. Mind you, you are just a piece in the entire jigsaw puzzle of creation, just ensure you strive to be a piece known for good and the impact you make at the very end.