I may be crazy, but I thought I’d have a go at winding down tonight by continuing my spiral series.
I have an interview tomorrow, in London, and, as I never know either where to begin with preparation for such events and frequently come-across as a stressed-out mare, I thought I would spend my time doing something productive rather than fretting.
Here I go.
It is funny.
Earlier today I had another foray into the spiral.
As I have already explained, this may not make much sense to people unless they are already familiar with the theory or have read my completed sequence of spiral documents. (Yet to be written, so for now are also time-travellers :-))
I’ll give you a flavour.
Essentially, me, at work, in a meeting, trying to explain why I work best when supported by kind, caring, considerate people and allowed a degree of freedom to innovate and create.
It’s not that complicated.
Pick-up any modern book on management or leadership and the first chapter will explain that the way to encourage productive employees or workers is to first see them as people, then play to their strengths and afterwards provide a smidgen of person-centredness and voila, magic happens.
The NHS has always had a struggle with this and I believe it is at the centre of many of the challenges we face – for example, we have literally a whole generation of baby-boomers who have taken early retirement because they have become so alienated from work; doctors, nurses, therapists leave work at the first opportunity to spend time with hobbies, the family or grandchildren, not that there is anything wrong with that, but, our society needs them as doctors, nurses and therapists – we have made the environment so hostile that the joy of work is seen as a paradox.
Enough of that.
The third tier of the spiral is the phase in human history – supposedly around 10,000 years ago when we moved from living in clans and found ourselves dragged-in to empires; the rise of super-tough hierarchies with absolute leaders.
If you ask Dan Carlin for his favourite, I am sure he’ll say Genghis Khan (if you haven’t listened yet, please do ‘Wrath of the Khans’ says it all) – there were Julius Caesars, and Alexander the Greats.
You didn’t mess with these guys or their followers, and, consequently they ruled the world, or what was known of it at the time.
Why should we worry about those old kingdom-builders from the past? Well, just as with the two earlier parts of the spiral, beige (family/survival) and purple (clan), the sentiments are still very much around today.
As previously described, these stages don’t spring from the thin-air; they are passed-down as memetic inheritances (memes – for more, see here).
Has the age of empire gone?
I don’t think so.
Mr Trump would probably say that his is the best there has ever been; Mr Xi Jinping would likely disagree. Is it the number of cultures you subdue, subjugate or rule that matters or money in the bank? Are Sergey and Larry emperors? What about Zuckerberg – do the rules apply to these guys?
And, even if you are not megalomaniacal enough to place yourself at the head of a multi-national, what about the corporate oligarchs who are indeed a people apart – who have existences and means of influence that are beyond the imaginings of most of us.
Yes, the one per cent rules everyone else, but what about the few at the very top. Are they in charge? Who is?
In the olden days, threats to the ruler would usually result in either a swift or slow, very painful death (to you and your family or clan) – this is not the situation nowadays, but cross one of those guys and your suffering (interpreted through the medium of law-suits) will fix you.
This system is alive and well in people who at different times might have risen to prominence; when they are in the workplace or school or university, their tyranny is expressed on a smaller scale.
And, just as I experience the beige and the purple (I am not immune from worry about family, shelter and what people think of me), I also have a little red. It doesn’t appear very often, indeed, it is tucked away in a vestigial part of my soul I haven’t yet discovered, but it is there.
I remember an experience many years ago when working with a group of clinical staff. These guys were high on the barometer of caring – their daily bread was supporting those at the end of life; archetypical angels.
Yet, when their values were challenged (not by me!) they became quite fierce. Powerful, careful, cunning, ferocious.
We all have this switch.
It does well to be aware, to pay attention to the possibility within each of us, for as with the others, this is a way to exert control. And, equally, to understand the position of your friends and enemies, their stance from a place of fear, usually predicated upon a past of bullying or childhood upset. You don’t have to go out of the way to feel sorry for these folks, although it might help you cope when things get tough.