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Our Internal Dictator

“Why don’t THEY do just what I want them to do?”


“If THEY just took my advice, THEY wouldn’t be in this mess right now.”

Yeah, I’ve had thoughts like this. Throughout much of my adult life. If only I had the power, I could have set the world straight. I would like to have been a dictator. I would have been a good dictator.

Many of us want to be a dictator. But very few of us will ever get this chance to be a big dictator. So we create a mini-world where we are the dictator.

Consider the main character of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye. He lives in a Jewish shtetl in Ukraine. The Jews have a low standing with their Ukrainian and Russian neighbors. Tevye has a low standing within his Jewish community. But in his family, Tevye is the boss. The ultimate boss. He can make decisions for his wife and daughters without their consent or input. Tevye is a likeable fellow, but he is a dictator in his own world. He is not easy to live with.

I got into business when I was 25 years old. One of the reasons was that I wanted to make the decisions—not follow someone else’s decisions. So I created a little world where I would be the dictator. Businesses are good for that. Little dictators like to start businesses or take on management roles.

My dictator instincts kicked in when I got into politics. While I knew I wasn’t going to fully get my way while climbing the political ladder, I would be more likely to get more of my way implemented by being inside politics than outside. It would have been fantastic to inflict some of my agenda on the rest of the world. That’s dictator thinking.

I’m willing to wager that many of you have a dictator inside of you, just wanting to force other people to do your bidding. Just say “Do”—and they do. Man, that would be so nice! The desire to be a dictator is a latent instinct in most of us.

I have called on the early TDG builders to deliberately build a new culture. At first, the new cultural traits will be somewhat difficult because that little dictator inside each of us will reject those traits. But we will learn to ignore him. Here’s how we remove that inner dictator from our psyche:

If we are elected to the first TDG executive committees, we will be required to deal with various TDG issues. Very likely, our inner dictator will tell us how those issues should be resolved. We only need to be forceful in those TDG meetings to get our way.

The TDG doesn’t work like that. Rather, we need to take a different approach in our meetings. First, acknowledge that your life experiences have created the position you currently hold. Your perspectives are valuable; you should express them. But you don’t have all the knowledge, experience, and wisdom in the world. So you need to listen to the knowledge, experience, and wisdom of your fellow decision makers. As new facts and different perspectives are presented, you should find yourself changing your mind. When you realize your inner dictator was wrong too many times, you are starting to let him go.

When you enter a TDG with a certain position in mind and then find yourself changing that position, that is a good sign you are conquering your inner dictator.

TDG meetings will help train us to this effect. Your little dictators will go away.

As new people join the TDG meetings, they will find experienced TDGers talking freely about the issues, exploring several options, coming to a consultative decision, and implementing that decision. With this example, they will be able to put their little dictators away easier than how you had to put your little dictator away.

That is how new cultures pass on their new values. Think about that!

Published on Medium 2021

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