Neglect, Power Struggles and Control Freaks!

Dear Jay,

Over the past year I have been harassed, berated in public meetings, threatened with lawsuits and my job has been threatened by a certain individual.

I recently attended your talk entitled ‘Jumping in the Driver’s Seat’ and would like to share some of my thoughts and learning experiences that relate to this person and situation. A little over a year ago I became the manager of a struggling environmental protection organization governed by a large Board of Directors. To protect all parties, let’s call the organization Longevity Of a Viable Earth, LOVE.

In my opinion, LOVE’s previous manager, whom I replaced, was beyond negligent in his duties. As a result weeds took root in our systems and the organization teetered on the brink of non-existence. The contract between this manager and LOVE was terminated and a new administrative manager was required posthaste. I was their choice. I recognized the phenomenal potential of LOVE if it succeeds and I was not afraid of failure. Failure is something that has happened to me before. I survived it but also made the choice to learn from it for the better…article continues here

On this large board sits good dedicated people as well as dark forces, whose sole purpose, is to destroy LOVE from within. This “dark” group of members was very obstructive, getting consensus and movement on issues was painful and difficult because of them. With time I found out the obstructionists on the board were not the core of my heartache but rather a symptom. It was their puppet master, a former board member who hates LOVE and is dedicated to its destruction or at minimum getting enough of his puppets on the board so that he can control LOVE.

During your presentation you had us do several exercises. Those exercises helped me better understand other people and why they might be doing what they do. It also helped me define what I felt toward the very person who was trying to destroy the organization I loved and was improving. The word that kept coming to me throughout the exercises was, Empathy.

The Puppet Master has challenged me in such a way that I was forced to learn the organization, operations and history of this organization in an extremely fast and extremely intimate fashion. As a result, in my opinion, I have become a highly successful manager of LOVE. I have a lot more to learn but I trust the Puppet Master will help me with that too.

This revelation does not make me like the Puppet Master. For me it isn’t a question of like, it’s a practice in empathy. Instead of carrying around the weight of anger each day toward this person, I have chosen empathy. If I choose anger, then who is carrying the burden each day? If I choose empathy, think of how much less stress I have. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that our adversaries have a heart but I guess it is true, even for the Puppet Master.

One of my favorite quotes that helped me in dealing with these difficult people: “Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something”

And if that can’t give me comfort at the end of another boxing round with the Puppet Master…I have this little gem that makes me smile… LOVE was struggling, certain people wanted to destroy LOVE. What LOVE needed was a dedicated, strong manager to help her survive. By his very destructive, obstructionist tactics, the Puppet Master has created the very thing LOVE needed most, a highly effective manager.


The Manager of LOVE

This was sent to me by an attendee at one of my sessions during a recent client’s annual conference. May it give you perspective and inspiration as you deal with difficult people.  Take a moment and look around this website for other articles, performance improvement products and speaking topics! - Jay Gubrud

About Jay Gubrud:

For over seventeen years, Jay Gubrud has helped corporations, associations, their boards and members eliminate roadblocks to their success.  His theme is unique and one everybody can relate to … Cars and Driving!  Jay’s articles on performance improvement have been in numerous publications nationwide.  You can reach Jay at and 651-635-9939.


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