God has given me a front row seat to military power in the last year, and observing many men in power, though not really getting much myself, I have learned a lot of things and try to consider what I would do if and when I am ever in their situations.
Obtaining power in group dynamics can be a bit of a fight. For example, in a power vacuum, the ambitious will start to seize power and impose their will, their methods, or even their desires on others as the right way to go. Often they don’t do this intentionally like we see bad guys in the movies. They are usually not thinking “I’m hatching a plan to rise to the top.” Instead, it happens subconsciously but in good intentions while they believe they are “being myself” or “not letting the haters bring me down.” But underneath, because all humans are naturally self-centered, there is a drive to climb to the top of the pile, often at the expense of others. And the drive is often unexamined and unchecked. That’s why we developed the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely” and have checks and balances in our government.
Sheep. Most of society are sheep who simply follow without critical thinking or are too afraid to say something because they will be criticized or seen as unpopular. Because of this fear from those in the middle, the power hungry usually get what they want. I’ve always believed imposing my way of doing things over others can be selfish and therefore not the best method, and instead the best type of rule will be rule by the team. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Though it takes longer and there is more deliberation, when everyone has a say and all opinions heard, there is freedom, peace and better rule. Therefore, I tend to not want to fight for that position because to me, it seems like I would become the enemy that I feel the need to fight against.
When you interact with those in power, like I have on many occasions, some people step back or are timid in a way because they don’t want to irritate them or cross a line. Think about a rock star or a famous athlete and how you interact when you meet them. Others will go to great lengths to “get good” with those in power so they can rise up and have the acceptance also. Think about people on a varsity sport when you were just JV or, in my case, operators who are further along in training than you are. Both positions are driven from a need to be liked and accepted, which we all have and is natural, but can be corrupting. Realizing this, I try to take neither position but to see this powerful person as a person, not only in light of their status. I try to interact with them normally without geeking out as well as not being afraid to politely criticize if the situation calls for it.
To receive man’s approval can be fleeting, if you have ever gotten it. I can remember having crowds cheer for me after an awesome concert that I played and everyone thought I was hot shit. I’ve had women come up to me admitting they had never noticed me like that before. I’ve had students and peers and others underneath me look up to me and ask me tons of questions and try to get in good with me on facebook etc. The truth is, many of us dream about such moments but it’s never enough. It does feel great, but like any drug, you need more and more because it fades. Kesha has a song called “your love is my drug.” Fitzgerald wrote the great gatsby about the most popular man on long island and how no one came to his funeral. Power feels great but it’s all fleeting and temporary, and when it’s gone often people can start to think their life is over. Think about the movie “It’s a wonderful Life.” Or Real talk, we had a friend’s father commit suicide when his career was falling apart due to an injury.
Sometimes when you come off the wrong way to someone in power though, they have the opportunity to burn you and ruin your reputation. Maybe I should care less about my reputation, but I have a hard time letting go of my honor; when it comes to a trust or integrity issue and someone in power doesn’t see it the same way that you do. That’s often the case, there are always two sides to a story. But history goes to the victors, so those in power often get to impose their versions of a conflict as THE way it happened, leaving you on the outs in many people’s eyes. At times like these, as long as I have done my part to make the situation right, apologized for any mistake, owned it like a man, I try to remember that “people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind.” If someone doesn’t want to forgive and forget, you can’t do anything about that and so you need to move on. Everything in this paragraph is in generics, and I didn’t have a situation quite like this, but it makes me think about it.