Friday, 20 February 2015

Power vs our identity

I seemed to have taken a small break from my last article written in November on whistleblowing in the Financial sector. The sector is often in the news and certainly not necessarily for the right reasons. The largest Bank in the world, HSBC and arguably the most powerful business institution around is being scrutinised for its breakdown in principles. More CEO’s are in trouble and more public figures muddling through sometimes too distracted by feeding the barking dogs. The changes in our financial sector are cumbersome, so ruled based and exhausting. If some of these companies are bigger or more powerful than small nation economies and require changing, then leading one might mean that you need to be made of the right stuff.
 
The problems that require solving are down to issues of leadership, governance, accountability, incentives, principles and purpose which is no mean feat when it could come into direct conflict to identity and our culture. Over the last lost decade it appears that the rumble of the quiet guillotine is out in force for those who led or had influence around that crazy shallow and corrupt time by which little surpise can be made on offer. No one seems to be walking off unscathed and yet is it our very own ‘liberal’ attitude, indifference or even guilt  that does not permit for a few people to be prosecuted for serious wrong doings? This is all the more troublesome, when we could be dealing with our very own kind.
 
It is no doubt a great challenge to remain coherent and true to oneself once we put ourselves on a pedestal. A well-known celebrity was quoted as saying recently ‘No one can underestimate the power of what I have achieved.’ A sentence that alone requires taming. Has this person and his media moguls lost a sense of who they are? It reminded me of a time, during my shameless, younger days,  I introduced a lady to a friend. Whereupon he made every effort to chat her up, 'Google me, I am a millionaire!' He said to her. The place happened to be the early hours of a seedy night club, and all feeling worse for wear on drink. By contrast this poor chap was being serious on prime time mobile television.
 
Humanity of course is weak, no one is perfect and yet at the same time we want to excel. This really is partly down to our inner struggle. Who we are, what we are made of and what we stand for. This is the very foundation of our very own identity. Just as our power structures and system of governance require checks and balance, it is always the case that our inner nature functions likewise. This is just so we do not get ahead of ourselves, veer off course or cause trouble. Everything on the outer is a reflection of the inner. We might in some cases have a dark side in us that might unfortunately also want feeding, this will reflect on how we behave or act on the outside. If we do not look or listen to ourselves, little understanding will come of each other, and we can quickly lose respect for ourselves and therefore easily influenced by others. Worse still so called ‘clever’ people come into the midst to quickly play on our very weaknesses, those of which we ourselves ignore or run away from. A recipe to potential havoc!
 
Many so called rotten core apples are about by which the ripe ones don’t quite know how to respond. If you are made of the right stuff, it is very likely you will get in that small lighter space at the top of the tree most likely when you least expect it, which has little to do with the pursuit of personal interest such as ambition, status, power and money and worse still when one’s principles are compromised at the expense of the common good or under false objectives. The rotten ones, well, if you notice, they stubbornly hang heavily on the bottom or middle branches, hide behind the ripe ones and sometimes with trickery show their shiny side where appearances often deceive. They just don’t quite make it and while most generally disappear or fall by the wayside, some are lucky enough as I was, to recognise it in themselves that they too can change.
 
A well-known proverb ‘One man’s food is often another man’s poison’ and what might seem glamorous and exciting to some can be a dangerous trap to others. In short, we are all each unique as human beings, that are gifted in our different ways faced by adversity and often tested if we get it wrong. A few of us can lead and we can aspire for greatness. We can stand up for moral laws with reason, and reach out for the stars. We can put our money where our mouths is and act like real men. Like most of us too we just simply want to contribute in one form or another, through service, encouragement, the sharing of knowledge, creativity and ideas, in a world where there is a place for everyone. Furthermore if this world is crying out for a different direction, does that not imply a new era worth embracing of countless new opportunities and needs? Which inspiring group of leaders is truly willing to step up to the task at hand?
 
Alexander Pope — 'Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed

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