Abuse of power

While dealing with an associate of mine today, we had the discussion about the abuse of power. It's interesting that we all fall into this category at some time in our day, week, month or year. Sometimes all the above.

You've seen yourself in this situation: you have someone at work, church or in your civic group that you don't care to be around. Because you are in a position of authority, you are able to choose whether they can be involved with you or not. You might say things like, "they aren't up to the task" or "they really can't be trusted" or "they aren't a team player." But, all the while, your own thoughts are condemning you because you are really thinking, "I don't want to spend time with this person because they drive me nuts, I don't like them and it would be torture for me to deal with them at all. So, I'm going to manipulate my situation, abuse my authority and make certain they never spend time with or around me."

Go ahead and admit it. You've done it. I admit that I have. It's a shameful thing, too. I challenge you to think about these few ideas as you ponder your abuse of power:

  1. Be true to yourself. If you haven't made a habit of it, you must be willing to look at yourself for who you really are. Are you a manipulative person? If you are, that's okay. Just accept that fact and begin the process of change. You don't have to stay that way. Say to yourself, "I have a problem with manipulation and abuse of my position and I'm choosing to stop that lifestyle and turn a new leaf. I will not do it any more." Then be critical of yourself and go against your own nature. See yourself as you truly are, not as you think you are. Don't look at yourself as you would like to be, embrace yourself with all of your faults and failures and realize that you definitely flawed. Your circle of friends will certainly grow larger!
  2. Confess your faults. Go to someone you can trust and tell them about your situation. Be certain it's someone you can be honest with and someone you can trust to be tight-lipped and honest in return. Focus on yourself and your part in the situation. Don't use it as a time to massacre another persons reputation. Focus on your own faults. Let your confidant hear you as you tell them about your problem with power abuse and what you plan to do about it. This is really more for you than for them. It accomplishes two things. First, you are hearing yourself vocalize your need and desire to change. It makes it real to you. Second, it helps you create a place of accountability-a line in the sand as it were. You can look back at that point and say, "I dedicated myself verbally and personally to change and I'm not giving up."
  3. Never quit. You won't get it right the first time. You may not get it right the second, third or fourth times. But, don't quit! Anything worth learning is worth trying over and over again to master. No musical instrument was ever mastered upon the first attempt at its play. Properly using your position of authority will happen only with practise as well. Hang in there. It will be worth it.

Do you know someone that could benefit from reading this article? Send them the link and don't forget that this type of material is covered in my book Making It Count: Putting meaning back in business and relationships. Bryan Hurlbut is the author of Making it Count: Putting meaning back in business and relationships.


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