Corrosive Power Or Conscience?

The business of football got uglier when information about the bounty for pain scandal surfaced. This scandal is currently decimating the management, income, and personal brands of the New Orleans Saints. The ironically named Saints are not the only team of people to pool money and put people in the cross-hairs, in hopes of destroying opponents’ bodies. By destroying their opponents’ bodies, they also are destroying their careers, and future ability to take care of their families.

The desire to do harm with the physical, financial, or mental gifts you have been given – or via the wherewithal you’ve worked to acquire – is a powerful motivator when you are unrestrained by your own conscience or an outside controlling force that has a conscience.

Why would someone agree to pay-for-pain?

Competitiveness, fear, jealousy, greed, and a general belief that any way to win puts a win on the board all tumble together. This soup of malevolence often creates not just one bad person, but it often draws together an anti-social society of thug-comrades.  These people work together powerfully in sports, politics, business, even a sorority until someone shines a light on the perpetrators. Then it takes someone with some authority to do something to stop them.

But such an intervention is rare. Victims aren’t enough. Outrage isn’t enough. The power to do something about these powerful people is rare.

Malice is occurring everywhere

I’ve had to stop watching most news channels during these Republican primaries because I can’t stand what the candidates are saying about each other. The mockery, bullying, outright lying, and the push polls – are sickening.

What these same candidates are saying about our President of the United States is sickening.  It’s racism, competitiveness, fear, jealously, greed, and a general belief that any way to win puts a win on the board. These people and their supporters, including 5 mega-billionaire donors, have created a near master race of antisocial people with no one to stop them.

At the same time, we are having some kind of national discussion – with YouTube ads – about why kids bully other kids. This is ridiculous. Kids bully kids because they see adults do it to each other constantly.  They see their parents do it to each other, neighbors, other family members, people who disagree with them, teachers, and the family pet. These kids are bullied in their own homes. They see antisocial behavior on the web, on television and radio. And have you seen reality TV? Even the food channel? Chopped, crushed, turn in your apron, you loser.

I have listened for the last time to radio’s number one talk show host, the man with the biggest personal brand in the business, because he demands that women who use contraception to be forced to appear in pornography that we broadcast on television – among other filthy insults. Republican candidates’ mumbling “that’s not the language I would use,” isn’t even close to the NFL commissioner firing the Saints’ coach, suspending Saints management, and getting ready to go after the players. Yes, Republicans have the power to shut their broadcasting hatemonger by disavowing him if they would – it’s what the advertisers are trying to do by shunning this man’s program and his audience by withdrawing their ad money. But they won’t because their brand strategy has hate pulling in followers.

What can be done in such an environment?

You cannot be in business without being affected by all this: the punishing anti-social climate we are now in. You can join it or you can eschew it.

I can’t keep coaching you to assiduously monitor your mind and your mouth so you positively influence those around you – without admitting that it’s getting uglier out there.

What to do? Be a beacon. Make light and even love a part of your personal brand. Align with power that seeks to do the most good while doing well. And when you have power, wield it with conscience.

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