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  • Megalomania and Euthanasia

    He’s dying slowly and finally, he gets his piece of the business- he is no more, and we love it.

    It starts with someone, who never had power, aspired for too much power and somehow ended up getting exactly that amount of power without really understanding or respecting it.

    It always ends the same, with that same person losing power and dignity without knowing that they self-destructing at the expense of so many others, while the rest of us remain in the dark about our hero’s weaknesses and malfeasance.

    For this hero, it’s usually the haze and lustiness of power run amok that precedes the downfall, a power that has almost no utility. Our hero smiles, waves and makes appearances, he looks the part, yet we are too preoccupied to notice the disconnect, not only between him and us, but also between what he said and what he never did.

    And out of nowhere — WHOOSH. An implosion, because our hero’s life is played out through arrogance, indifference and deceit. This is not new, it’s very old, it’s boring now. It is the seemingly perfunctory annihilation of a superstar, who wanted to become a celebrity and now is a nobody, and will be interred as the very thing he promised himself he would never become.

    Most of these men have actualized within certain corridors of power, and somehow they’ve lost the reality of their position, lost the reality of reality. They started to think that it was them, who made whatever happen-happen, not the machines and systems that manifest progress, not the work and sacrifice and definitely not the people.

    They believed that it happened because they made it happen, or it wouldn’t have happened at all. In their estimation, the success or not of an offering always hindered on their contribution or blessing, hindered on their rescue, and somewhere, they got lost on their way to greatness.

    Sometimes when one is in power too long, especially unchecked, it becomes their reality, becomes what they know, what they expect, the entitlement of power – SWEET. They start seeing rules, regulations and protocols like they are built for the rest of us, built to keep distance between the powerful and the population.

    I must admit that it’s not all their fault, because one can become seduced, influenced and accustomed to the amenity of power: the great seats, the free tickets and the soirees, all ego feeding, yet highly detrimental to the required equilibrium necessary to balance power’s luxuries against the people’s needs.

    The real problem with megalomania is the distortion of reality. A reality created by obnoxiousness and somehow rewarded for it. Our hero’s misguided power has deteriorated into a quixotic elixir – a magic lamp with unlimited wishes, and it has been incessantly altered toward something vacillating between convenience and pathology. The individual becomes more loyal to the reality of his needs, than the realities of the people he was supposed to be advocating for and he became dependent upon a reality that wasn’t so.

    Too often, these heroes operate within the amorphous space of who they once were and who they want to become in the future, but they are never present, always running from the past or hijacking the future.

    Then it happens. BOOM.

    Something so unacceptable,  egg-headed and “predictable.”

    Power and the people turn against our friend and we see panic, denial,  desperation, injury and remorse. We see the other side of power: we see someone being “compromised” in real-time. It never fails to amaze how surprised our hero becomes when being held accountable, a surprise that is breathtaking, one that is “pure.”

    “The hustler now becomes the victim.” It’s an old story.

    We all gasp and watch the unraveling of our hero. He is in front of the cameras, wife by side, crying, talking about his family, how he’s sorry and now considering the people’s he’s hurt and let down. It’s become rudimentary, as opposed to a spectacle:  it’s an opera and our hero, who was once the diva’s obsession – the Machiavellian young prince, is now facing certain death. He’s choking, staggering and begging, he’s dying slowly and finally, he gets his piece of the business and just like that, he is no more, and we love it. It’s the last scene of the last act and we clamor for more…. encore–encore.

    The real problem is that the public, you and I, the people that pay for these folks to work within our interests, to create better schools, communities and new jobs, have become accustomed to these outrageous events from our most distinguished leaders, which has become the new normal.

    We don’t expect solutions, we expect a show. We expect people, who make decisions that impact millions of lives to give us vaudeville, as opposed to true dignity and excellence, as opposed to showing us that they respect our intelligence and tax dollars. They forget that we got up on a cold November morning and voted for them to connect America’s infrastructure and opportunity to our dreams. And now we’ve been made aware that nothing of the kind was happening, because they were preoccupied, consumed by the thought of how they could give themselves more and us something that only resembled more, and in the end, they didn’t lose — we did.

    It’s always the same: a one-time promising light, now bloodied and cornered, soon to be facing an act of “euthanasia.” Someone, usually a friend or colleague will be forced to put him down. It’s not until one of the grown-ups becomes incensed enough that they let our hero go. They decide that it’s time to turn the page, time for our pound of flesh….”Achilles will be put down tonight.”

    And so again, we have to start over with a little less optimism, thwarted energy and a lot more confusion than when we first met you. Maybe we can look back at how we got here, but still  someone’s going to have put you down, so we can all move on.

    Good Luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO, Upstart
    calvinwilsonmail@gmail.com

    Filed Under: Gamechangers

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    1. “The ‘freak show’ is the new normal.” How true!

      We all know that power has a tendency to corrupt, yet we’re all still so suceptible to the temptation.

      I’ve wondered for years, and you raise the question again: what can we do to keep this predictable implosion from happening again and again.

      Humans are fallable: what systems can we put in place to keep all of these Whatever-Gates in check?

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