I have a friend who gives me advice. On the surface, he seems like a good person to go to for advice. His family is happy and healthy. He is an entrepreneur who does what he loves everyday. He thrives on the competition of the business world and enjoys socializing with other people in his industry. He does have one major problem. He has what are politely called “anger issues. ” In fact, if he is not your friend, he can be very mean and scary.
I heard about his scare tactics when we became friends a few years ago. One of his competitors had crossed the line and become his enemy. At a social gathering, he told a group of us that he called his new enemy every day to remind him that he was out to get him. Every day! I had a brief encounter with a stalker and know that first hand that negative attention on a daily basis is emotionally draining. Why would someone with all the trappings of success commit to terrorizing someone?
First, let me mention that I might have been the only person who thought his campaign of terror was disturbing. Other people at the table laughed. Some listened intently as if they might use his tactics in the future. At the time I could not relate. I was also very young and inexperienced in the world of competition.
Second, I will admit that my views of social rules change as I grow through life. When there wasn’t lot at stake, it found it easier to forgive and forget. Now, when something I value is in jeopardy, it is highly unlikely that I will walk away. That’s just a little background and maybe some justification because I found myself acting like my friend recently and I shocked myself with how easy it is to engage hate and anger.
I don’t pretend to not be human. My ideals are high and my resistance is low. Being Christian gives me parameters and great examples. Being ambitious makes me think beyond limits and doesn’t always attract the best influences. At some point we all have to come to terms with the different parts of personalities and I had a tremendous wake up call this week.
Classic scenario: the person has caused problems for me before. Other people convinced me that it was all some kind of misunderstanding. I thought I should be more forgiving so I stepped right into harm’s way. There is an old expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. ” A year ago, I would have repeated that saying and moved on. Things have changed.
Real harm was being done and I began to reflect on my friend’s advice. I welcomed that challenge to become an enemy. My friend didn’t invent these tactics. Sun Tzu writes similar advice in The Art of War and Macchiavelli’s The Prince is based on the same principles. I got completely caught up in psychological warfare for a few days. A few days is enough. Accepting the challenge to be an enemy is just an invitation to do damage to yourself.
As I get older, I am becoming more convinced that there are people who are not conscious of their actions. They destroy everything around them and they don’t even notice. I remember a cartoon character named “Schleprock. ” He would walk by buildings and they would crumble. He would touch a table and the legs would fall from underneath. Everywhere he went he left a pile of rubble in his wake. People would run away when they saw him and Schleprock’s feelings were hurt. He had no idea about the devastation he caused because he never turned around to look!
My scenario involved a “Schleprock. ” Only God can prevent the kind of damage that this kind of person does. As for protecting yourself, Sun Tzu would say “attack by fire” and destroy everything around your enemy. Macchiavelli advises us that it is better to be feared than admired. My friend would tell me to embrace the challenge. The Bible says to turn the other cheek. I’m going to accept that there are some things in this world that are beyond my understanding and do what people did in the Saturday morning cartoon. When I see a Schleprock coming, I’ll just run in the other direction.
Dr. LaMar researches, writes, and speaks about mentoring relationships among professional women. She also consults with growing businesses about how personality and processes can affect workplace dynamics. Her books “God Provdes The Sacrifice: Women Discuss Making Their Hardest Decision" and “Drama Free Workplace can be purchased in e-book format from her web sites. http://www.DrLaMar.com http://www.DramaFreeWorkplace.com http://www.PhenomenalWomansGuide.com