Growing up, my dad was a ball-busting control freak. When it came to my homework and grades, the guy was an unforgiving perfectionist. But the few times I came home with really bad news, he was strangely understanding and supportive. I could never figure him out … until I climbed the corporate ladder into the c-suite. They’re full of guys like he was.
Some people go to pieces in a crisis. Others overreact to relatively minor setbacks, blowing them completely out of proportion into their own personal mini-dramas. Still others are unnaturally calm when the pressure is on and everything is on the line, but the littlest thing can set them off like Gallagher in a watermelon patch.
The irony is that some of the most brilliant top executives of all time fall into that latter category. Why that is, is a complicated affair best left to their shrinks, mentors and spouses. And while I will not under any circumstances admit to being in that camp, let’s just say I have a fair amount of intimate knowledge on the subject and leave it at that.
In any case, watching an otherwise intelligent and respected individual melt down into a batshit crazed lunatic is never pretty. And when you happen to be the unlucky soul who somehow managed to set him off (they’re usually male), it’s anything but fun, that’s for sure. But here’s the thing nobody wants to hear: it’s actually worse to be him.
No, I’m not advocating for abusive bullies. But a lot of people have to deal with them, so hear me out.
Unless you’re a blood relative, you can always quit the company or divorce the bum and never see him again, if you’ve reached that point of no return. But he still has to wake up and be himself every day of his life. And yes, he knows he’s the way he is. On some level, we all do. And it will come back to haunt him some day. It always does.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should have sympathy for the devil. I’m not saying you should do anything different than what your head and heart tell you to do. This is not that kind of blog post. I’m simply sharing some information that most people don’t realize and, once they do, it can and often does help in some way. Sometimes in a big way.
If you’re emotionally or financially involved with someone like that and haven’t yet reached the point of saying “To hell with it, I’m out of here,” my advice is to help him help himself by encouraging him to seek professional help, if that’s appropriate given your relationship. Whatever you do, don’t try to “fix” him. You’ll usually end up as a codependent enabler and making things worse.
And if you’re one of those people who accomplishes great things while making everyone around you miserable in the process, take a good hard look in the mirror. It won’t break. And neither will you.