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I Can't Be a Good Boss and a Friend Too (and Other Myths)

by Judy Ryan

“To power up the whole system involves learning to bring the heart and mind into a creative joint venture. Heart intelligence supplies balanced strength and allows more of one’s individual spirit — the passionate actualization of one’s core values — to come ‘on-line.’”
-“From Chaos to Coherence,” Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer

We have all heard variations of this theme. Parents say: “I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to be your parent” as if the two are antithetical. This theme is completely true when you are using control methods.

Why control methods are still so popular
Control is mostly what we see modeled on TV and at the movies and what we hear about and read about in the news, and what we see playing out in front of us pretty much most of the time. Control is quite seductive because it’s familiar and powerful. And people believe the alternative is passive and permissive. Besides, if you can get people to do what you want quickly by using a little force, coercion, guilt, judgment, a few carrots or pampering, what’s the harm?! That’s the million-dollar question I ask you to consider.

The small matter of massive inferiority feelings
Psychologist Alfred Adler coined the phrase “inferiority complex.” He believed that conditions and conversations we offer in any given moment support either inferiority or worthiness in people but not both. He said that when they regularly support inferiority, people fall into a state of continuous struggle within themselves (we are the most medicated, addicted, obese and indebted people ever) and interpersonally (have you watched the news lately?), all symptomatic of missing crucial conditions and conversations needed for joyful and caring lives.

The pesky absence of purpose and values
Added to our general ideas that we are supposed to control others, we fail to seek and discover our personal power and aim it at a worthy and genuine purpose. Then we fail to help others do the same. My daughter recently said to me, “I’ll never have your work ethic,” to which I replied: “You already do. You play video games all night long.” She replied, “Yeah, but that’s fun,” to which I said, “So is a life in which your work aligns with a meaningful purpose.” When we use control, we don’t bother defining purpose.

The toxicity of poor trust and teamwork
Relationships that work well are based on trust and authentic teamwork. Trust requires that we are secure and consistent in being transparent and straight with each other, telling the truth, committed to hearing each other, and respecting and acknowledging the gifts in each other. These are nearly impossible to do when force and coercion are present. When we don’t feel safe enough to build strong trust within ourselves and with others, we have less generosity with which to provide supportive teamwork.

Consider dismantling control and fostering responsibility instead
Using control is like any other harmful addiction; it’s painful to withdraw from and difficult to imagine a life without. Until you decide a life without using control is more desirable than one with it, you will continue to use it. I offer you a challenge: Seek out people who influence others without the use of control. Notice how they make you feel, how they make others feel. Watch what they do and how they do it. Get addicted to what they model for you. You will find them to be some of the most amazing and productive people imaginable. Let them seduce you into the authentic power of being responsible and helping others to do the same. Our world needs you to do this, and the sooner, the better.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.

Submitted 6 years 328 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
Views: 3253