The Golden Rule, with Experience

Running the gauntlet

Is the world off kilter, or is it just me?

My idea of how experience might influences behavior:

Bad experience—-> anger —–> resolution to be fair when it’s your turn to lead —–> change rules to be fair when you get the power.

Here’s what seems to happen instead:

Bad experience —–> anger —–> resolution to be fair when it’s your turn to lead —–> repeat the injustice when you get the power.

Instead of “I hated the short maternity leave when I was having my baby, I’m going to make it easier for the next generation,” I’m hearing “I didn’t have any leave, I don’t see why you should have it.”

It doesn’t sound like leadership, it sounds like revenge. Maternity leave is just an example. I’m seeing this vengeful behavior in mentoring, regulating job loads, hiring practices, loyalty, even fidelity. Is this improving life and work?

I understand how it happens. It’s well known that children of alcoholics often becomes alcoholics themselves, simply because it’s all they knew. Children with abusive parents often become abusive adults because it’s how they learned to handle power.

Must we now see this effect in business? Employees with bad supervisors grow into bad supervisors themselves. Time to break the cycle. It won’t happen at the top. You’re going to have to take your anger and change the outcome. Retribution is like stabbing yourself a thousand times to punish the other person. You can start to change the world today. By being fair, even when you were not treated fairly.

Quinn McDonald is a life- and business coach who works with companies to develop a business culture in which people can thrive, not thrash.