You can do amazing things with it but you probably won’t. If you are like most you will use it to benefit yourself and your agenda and not much more. And sooner or later, when you need it the most, it will not be there to save you. The “it” I speak of is power and I attribute it to the number one reason that promising men and women fall from grace on a regular basis these days.
Literally, everyday you can read about someone who once commanded great power and resources that is now on the brink of ruin. Be it their reputation or their fortune or perhaps both. Their lives will never be the same. The main and often redundant question is always “What were they thinking?” What they were thinking was that the power that they wielded so masterfully for all those years was going once again save the day.
Wouldn’t it be something if colleges and universities offered a course or maybe even a minor in Power Management 101? No one really teaches us as we grow up about money, parenting or power. And why would you bother with power since so few people will ever really achieve any of note in their lifetime?
I for one would like to one day teach a course or two in Power Management at a prestigious college or university. That is after I get a masters degree in the subject myself.
I want to explore just a couple of instances where power, and sometimes the anticipation of power, made a few people do very questionable things. Top of mind right now is the John Edwards case in the courtroom this month. The players and their roles in this circle of power are fascinating to say the least. I will get to that soap opera momentarily but first let me tackle one story that involves my favorite sport…football.
This story is about former University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino. Here’s a guy that was one of the hottest coaches in all of college football and with one selfish decision he lost everything that he had worked so hard to attain.
On April 1st of all days, the coach decided to take his girlfriend out for a spin on his motorcycle. There’s nothing wrong with that I guess except if you are married with children and are the highest paid public employee in the entire state. As luck would have it, the coach and his pretty young thing crashed that day while taking a curve on a state highway. Now the coach was in quite a fix. He knew that this accident had to be reported and that he had to be treated for his injuries.
It is often said that the cover up is always worse than the crime and I would agree. When you are caught living a lie, your natural instinct is to lie to cover your tracks. When you are in a position of power you find that it is easier to get out of these types of jams because people who benefit from your power want to believe and help you. What happens sometimes is that those who don’t benefit from your power get involved in investigating your lies and then it all begins to unravel.
We have all seen people in power positions get out of a jam and we have seen them go down in flames. What determines who makes it through and who doesn’t is power management. Those who make it through quickly identify who holds their fate in their hands and they come clean with that person or persons. If the relationship with that key person is good or even great then a cover up can be successfully completed. If not then your goose is cooked.
Well, in the head coach’s case, that key person was his athletic director. By now you know the coach chose not to come clean with his AD. And after the details were shared through all major media outlets the coach’s fate rested squarely in his AD’s hands. The AD took a few days to gather all of the embarrassing details and then he had to make a decision. Given the ugliness of what the AD uncovered, the decision was made less complicated.
He fired the coach. He decided to make the University of Arkansas bigger, and more powerful, than the head football coach. It wasn’t easy because the school could be on the brink of a national title. Their two toughest games are in their building next year so firing your head coach could be costly in your pursuit of a national championship. I believe he fired the coach because he knew the coach would one day cost him his own job.
He found out the head coach didn’t care about his own job. If he did why would he risk losing a contract worth $3.5 million a year and all of the adulation that comes with running a Top 5 college football program? Also lost was an $18 million buyout of his contract because he was fired for cause. Oh, and the girlfriend worked at the university as well. Had a sweet gig too. She got it because the coach handed it to her, over more than 150 other candidates it was revealed during the AD’s investigation.
The girlfriend was engaged to another university employee and scheduled to marry in June of this year. How would you like to be that guy? So let’s tally up the damage shall we? Head coach is out of a job and millions of dollars and his reputation is shot. His girlfriend is forced to resign and given severance in exchange for her silence. Fiancée of girlfriend is out of a job as well and all because one man decided his needs were more important than the university, the fans, his wife, his kids etc. Oh, and did I mention his brother was a coach on the football staff? Stay tuned for his fate.
Next up is the story of John Edwards. Right now John is in court looking down the barrel of 30 years imprisonment for violating campaign financing laws. John was so disillusioned by his power that he made the decision to have an affair, hire his mistress as his videographer and then father a child with the mistress. He did all this while he was making a run for President of the United States and caring for his wife who was battling cancer. Again, what was he thinking?
I believe he was thinking that he could get away with it because everyone that saw the affair evolve also benefited from his power. Why would they turn him in when they needed him to get the nation’s top job? When the walls started to close in he didn’t panic, he just got his top aide to take responsibility for his love child. The aide goes along with the charade because he wants to go to the white house. The aide’s wife goes along with it because she wants to go to the white house. John’s dying wife goes along with the affair and then the love child because she wants to be the FLOTUS.
See how power has corrupted all those around the two original conspirators? It gets worse. John now has powerful friends funding the charade to the tune of nearly $1 million. There are two big “donors” that we know of and one is now deceased. The other is a bank heiress who is 101 years old. Those funds allowed the aide and his wife to hide the pregnant mistress as they traveled around the US evading reporters and their opposition who are now starting to piece the story together.
Next week John’s defense team will attempt to convince a jury that he knew nothing about the raising of the funds which paid to hide his mistress’ whereabouts. He is facing 30 years in prison but John already knows he won’t be found guilty. He’s is a lawyer and he knows how this lawyer game is played. The team with the best lawyers wins, regardless of the crime or the stakes.
His team, who is also being assisted by his oldest daughter, will not call the mistress and they will not call John to testify. They will question the heck out of all of the co-conspirators and make them look like hapless liars and when the smoke clears he will walk away with a much damaged career and reputation but no jail time.
Just think that if John Edwards could have exercised better power management he could have possibly become our President. In the end he had too many people involved in his deception. Once too many people know or suspect wrongdoing the conspiracy becomes difficult if not impossible to control. That is what power is all about. Once you get the power you become consumed with the fear of losing what? Your power. I know how much I miss…