Risks of personality worship.

Societies have their own life-cycles, and every society learns what its life- cycle is, usually the hard way! Through modern history, we have seen the demise of the erstwhile kingdoms- whether that was because of experiments in different types of governance models like democracy, communism, dictatorship, autocracy or the hybrid models which picked elements of different governance models (while becoming none); normally societies ended up accelerating their social collapse, but in a few cases retained their character, intrinsic value to survive, reforge and rise again and this space where societies collapse and rise again is the space of personality worships- because the whole social drama that unfolds- no matter where you live, it is almost always about personality or the competing personalities that are offered the platform to lead and provide direction to the masses! Join me here as we try to understand why personality worship could be or rather is a risk that every society must weigh well before limiting it’s exposure to the same!

As Individuals, we like it when we get ready solutions for the problems that we are facing, irrespective of the fact whether these are chronic or one off cases. Very often the people who have the ability to wield this power are the ones’ who provide us with solutions and make our lives easy (at least that is what it looks like to begin with!). This is where the game starts and this is the grand stage of personality worship! Whether it is the politician that you like or despise, that boos you adore or that team mate you can count upon- or anyone for that matter whom you count on- you are knowingly or unknowingly getting into the trap of personality worship, and while this looks innocent and divine, it could end up being quite the opposite and many nations around the world have lived to tell those horrible stories of personality worship gone too wrong! So how does this all start…well here we go!

As we go about our daily chores, we often want to leave a few vital decisions to someone above us! If you are working with an organisation, you are looking forward to your boss- he is looking forward to his until you reach the CEO through the chain of command and the CEO too looks up to the board to whom he is answerable who basically have the stakeholders- which includes you too! So you see, even in a corporate set up as we work, at the levels of competence that we have been entrusted with, every now and then we will leave out that odd blank to be filled up by our bosses, not because we can’t do it, but rather that’s a fail safe mechanism to ensure everyone doesn’t end up doing everything causing chaos that can ruin the organisation or ends up creating more competition from within! It also ensures progressive development of competence and thereby assures survival and growth for all those involved in the creative process. Likewise when it comes to the larger social fabric, it is the domain of the politicians, the bureaucrats and the whole official machinery of a state/ nation that goes in to make our societies progressive and safe. When we start allowing personality worship to creep into this space, we end up creating unprecedented situations and eventually have no one else, but ourselves to blame at the end! You see, if you ask clowns to lead then… you are part of the circus and no longer an audience! So why is this so damaging how can we change this or rather balance this?

Since time in memorial, right from the times of the Kings and Queens, personality worship has been the order of the day! Certainly it made sense because all power was concentrated there and with no other way around, it made sense! So based on the personality worships Kingdoms progressed and regressed, each time the worship was offered to a right person- the Kingdom flourished and at other times if the worship was offered to a nut case who had become a King by possibly killing his own people- well the Kingdoms regressed and failed on their own weight! Sure enough, there are no more kingdoms to be managed, but if you carefully observe the whole ecosystem around you, it is nothing but the aggregation of kingdoms (leaders) in almost every field that you choose – whether it be business, politics, security, work areas, the arena of sport, medicine, scientists, each of these sectors- what I call as little kingdoms- all have their own “worship” models and as these are worshiped the societies arrive at worshiping a taller and unifying personality who is worshiped even by those who are worshiped below him! So where’s the problem you may ask? All looks fine right? People having role models and those role models having theirs and then all these role models choose a grand role model? So all should be great and in-sync right? Well, sadly it doesn’t work that way and that is what sets up this space of “personality worship” for failure! Read on!

The word here is “personality” and “worship” and knowing humans the way they are these personalities are something else as they start to plot their individual paths to progress and by the time they arrive at that position where they are being worshiped they have already transformed into something else which none of the people worshiping below are aware of at any level! So this is like you meet your college friend 20 years down the line and expect him to be the same person who kept asking you for your notes or drink! Well that never is the case, is it ever? With time, people change and personalities transform, in fact they are continually forming and evolving each day, moment to moment! Sure enough the intrinsic value systems seldom undergo a rapid or intense transformation, so a principle of non-violence will almost always stay unless a radical event has come visiting an individual, but beyond that all and everything will change! This is where the problem of personality worship begins and manifests into a complex problem based on how deep the worship model has entrenched, the quality and severity of its impact! Let me explain!

Consider, you lead a nation, you have the power, influence and needless to say you have your followers and the model for your personality worship is intact and working- now if something were to happen to you- you will see the whole model coming crashing down- even if there’s a replacement and someone else takes the place to fill in the void left by you- as the whole model is based on personality specific element- specific to you-the moment the personality is gone, the whole model collapses and unless the next person is available to step in with an equal or perhaps even a more powerful personality worship model which is already working, the nation risks to be throw into anarchy and chaos! Because as stakes increase, complexities do and with that the desire to get the intended results irrespective of the cost! If you are thinking, this must be happening only in politics and what has that to do with office and individual lives, well think again! Do you remember the last time a whole unit was thrown out or resigned or left to join the competition or start something of their own? Well yes, isn’t it- so this is how it manifests at the corporate level and of course not that everyone has to leave and go, even as they stay within the organisations that “personality worship model” tends to impose push and pull effect on an ongoing basis- which manifests in different ways- way of working, corporate bitching all of that gets influenced and directed by the nature and quality of ongoing tussle between the competing personalities and their worshipers in the confines of the corporate world!

This personality worship also plays its role in our homes, too- whose the favorite uncle?, which grandparent, Mum or Dad- whose your favorite so on and so forth! Sure enough the contextual settings of this space are more rewarding, positive and safe then another discussed and actually provide a foundation for individuals to pivot and keep the hustle on in the other realms! Now if you have psychopaths in your personal space- well dude, then you really need some help! So how do we stop this personality workshop from consuming us, becoming a threat or wiping us off and what can we do about it?

Well the only deceptively simple and perhaps the only way to stop and stall any and all kind of personality worship is about celebrating the action more than the actor, it is more about empowering actions and the process rather then the people! The moment you do this, you do great service for one and all, you take off that unwanted load to be at all times awaiting for a consent, approval and secondly you create a powerful stance to send out a signal that what is being evaluated is the work, the task and the impact and not necessarily how it has been done by whom? No, I am not saying disregard the process, I am saying discount the personal touch- like if you are applying jam to the bread, you have only two surfaces and you can do it as many times as you want- but the end result will be jam speared on two sides of a bread piece- there can’t be any other outcome so the empowerment is about applying the jam and not who applied the jam! Think about it! The more your empower processes over people you ensure that you can stall and arrest unwanted personality worship and the nuisance that it brings along with it at the right time!

Of course, great leaders and pioneers in every field and every space must be celebrated and worshiped but that has to be done aligned to the work and the actions that they took when it mattered the most and not just worship because you have been asked to do so! You may get a tiger cub and treat it like a cat, but as it grows, it will only treat you as a tiger should!

I will leave you here, think if you have been worshiped or you worship and eitehrways what is that whole worship about, is it about that person’s work, actions, courage, innovation, resilience, some virtue or is it just that plain vanilla fan following of the college days- so that the cherry on your cake looks a little bit more red!

Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one, until then keep thinking and worship what matters and not who matters!