Relationships form one of the pillars of DIY Health. There are many different relationships that we have and over the last week we have seen examples of how the way we conduct these this impacts on people, for better or worse.
There are two separate events, which caught my eye; resignation of the CEO of David Jones department store after allegations of sexual harassment, and the furor over allegedly racist comments by a former footballer. Both say something about our relationships.
Firstly were the comments made at a private function by a former footballer Mal Brown who allegedly made references to Aboriginals and cannibals in jest. Not surprisingly this made the news for a few days and led to the usual screaming from those with a vested interest in doing so.
Now I was not at the function, so do not know the context of the comments. However following media reports millions of people became aware of the comments of one person instead of the small number in the room. More interesting are the claims that one person’s remarks are widened out to suggest it represents “systemic racism” either in football or society in general.
Of greater significance is that the man who made the comments has a long track record of playing and coaching Aboriginal footballers and has probably done much more to help their advancement than many of those now screaming out in “horror”. A sign of maturity in race relations will be when jokes whether bad or good are seen as jokes rather than put into a political context. Laughter is one thing we all have in common as humans.
The resignation of David Jones CEO Mark McInnes again highlights how traits, which serve people well, can lead to their downfall. There is a long long history of leaders be it in business or government having multiple affairs, relationships, mistresses or whatever term was popular at the time. This goes back to the days of Caesar and continued through to Bill Clinton. “Leaders” in other fields have a similar track record.
In this particular case the man has resigned and is forgoing something in the order of $16 million in lost entitlements compared to seeing out his contract. There is no way a fine of that magnitude would be imposed by a court. Furthermore nobody is disputing he was extremely good at his job.
None of this excuses behavior, which is unacceptable and he has paid a high price. Equally one can also wonder if the behavior is shaped by the fact that other women may well have warmly received or even sought his attention. It is likely that some did. It is also likely others did not but were not prepared to speak out. There will undoubtedly be more stories emerge over the next week or two
The problem is that often the exact same drive and personality traits which led to success and rising up the power ladder can send you right back down again. A football coach who calls a spade a spade may go far on the playing field but come unstuck at after dinner functions. A CEO who charms women does well in running a retailer but comes unstuck from his private dealings with people if he does not learn where to draw the line.
Relationships are often made more complicated then they need to be. They are never helped when people who are in no way affected jump in with opinions or interpret behaviors through their own biases or worldview.
The old golden rule of do onto others as you would have them do onto you does not even quite work in the politically correct age. You need to do onto others, as they would have you do onto them. For that to occur we need to be honest and open in our dealings with people. We can not expect others to be mind readers. We need to tell them what we do and do not accept and we need to act on that accordingly.
Maybe relationships are not that difficult after all.