Reveal Your Character


Your real character is revealed when you have power over others.

What do you do? How do you use your power? Do you do what has been done to you? Or do you do what you wish had been done to you?

You always have the choice. And it always reveals your character.

-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who keeps an art journal.

13 thoughts on “Reveal Your Character

  1. I was put in charge of the media library where I had worked for years and did that job for a year before I moved on to my current job. I found out (or got confirmed) what I already know: I don’t want to have power over other people any more than I want them to have power over me. I’m not a leader and not a follower. I want everyone to stand in their own power and just take responsibility for themselves without having the need to influence others. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I do think it meant in that situation I gave people a natural credit for being capable of handling their job and not breathing down their neck to see if they were doing it right. I was open to suggestions and ideas and I wanted people to take responsibility for their own job. I like people who are independent thinkers and I believe often people are a lot more professional then their bosses give them credit for.

      • Thanks. I do wonder though how positive it would be in an environment where people don’t take any responsibility themselves (and I know those environments exist, thank god it wasn’t that way in mine) or lack any initiative whatsoever. I think I wouldn’t really know how to handle that. I’m not the take-charge-of-others or coaching type and it would probably frustrate me to no end. I guess I just dont like hierarchy of any kind, but I can see how sometimes it would be necessary to enforce leadership and I’m not sure if I could do it. 😉 Well, doesn’t really matter now, I have more of a solo-position where I work now. I do have a boss, but my ‘department’ is a solo-operation, so I get a lot of freedom, which is just the way I like it. (I’m an archivist by the way).

        • Right now (at least in America0 all the focus is on team work and collaborative work. I’m not a fan, because I believe strongly in personal responsibility and individual contributors at work. That seems to work well for you. The idea, and I’ve seen it in practice, that within a group, no one person can ask a question unless the rest of the group agrees they also want to ask that question is a short-cut to stupidity.

  2. I always try to do what empowers the other person and benefits the mission. I have been director of a division of 52 people in a very powerful agency (building permits for individuals and municipalities) and I received several awards for my management style from the “higher-ups” but the crowning indicator of success is that when I meet some of my employees in social settings years later they tell me they miss me and wish that I were director again. How cool is that? I remember the old definition of character “Character is what you are in the dark”, or “Character is what you are when no one is watching.”

  3. Such a wonderful post and one that should be on office bulletin boards everywhere. While I have have never been a supervisor, I have been the senior staff person who would “guide” other staff. My top rule was that I would never ask someone on staff to do something that I would not or had not done myself, i.e. putting out the garbage when I worked in a flowershop. It’s a job no one liked and I would often help the junior staff member with this job. Another mantra of mine was when something happened wherein someone had done something warranting disciplinary action that I had to document, I would write up the report stating just the facts, no reflection of what I felt about the situation was in the document. At times, some of happened was borderline and it was my call on whether it should be documented. In situations such as these, I would ask myself if I would still feel strongly about the situation three days from then, three weeks from then, and then three months from that point. If I got to the three month point and no one had been hurt in the incident, I would let it go and not stress about it. If it wasn’t critical, urgent, life threatening or blood flowing, then whatever had happened really wasn’t terribly important and it wasn’t worth stressing myself out over and likely wasn’t worth reporting.
    I’m retired now (health issues) and still use these guidelines when something happens in my life.

    • I often asked people to do work I could not do–that’s why I hired them. People who worked for me had to know more than I did. And that’s why I had to trust them. It was dangerous and I loved it. Until the day I did not. It can happen any day.

  4. I seldom have power over others, but if and when I do, I prefer a “Golden Rule” style. Always take the high road. Be Salt and Light. If I am taken advantage of, that’s on them, not me. I believe in second chances but be careful not to push me too far, though I am quiet, patient, kind…and even then-
    iron fist in a velvet glove.

  5. This post is fabulous!!!! I can’t tell you what perfect timing that you wrote this. My boss at the hospital is definitely “wish what had been done to you”, she is a great person to work for, BUT she is about to get fired for her style of leadership. They told her that she shouldn’t be “friends” with her employees and basically she needs to be a bitch. lt is so disheartening that we have to let other people control our lives because we need a paycheck. Wish I had figured this out early on, so I could have done things differently. Gotta go get my daily dose of stress. Make it a great day!

    • It’s hard to be friends with anyone at work. There is competition for every promotion, for every idea, for every private office. But work is the only place we have friends because we spend our days there. It’s a tough battle.

  6. I think the only power I might have over others is the power to influence. What influence I do have, I use to help them to be themselves and to meet their own needs in a way that doesn’t impact negatively on others. Influencing others is part of my job and I aim to do it as unobtrusively as possible.
    I think there is a fine line between influence and manipulation – perhaps it’s one of motivation?

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