Getting Even With Cheats

Last Updated Aug 28, 2009 6:50 AM EDT

To live corporate life is to experience getting stitched up, stiffed and done over. The longer you live on planet business, the longer the list of grudges and vendettas can become.

I have, over time, been cheated out of more millions of pounds than I care to think of. Because management is all gung-ho and success focused, there is remarkably little advice on how to deal with the really bad stuff when it comes along. Two reactions which I have experienced simply make things worse:

  • Blaming the low-life who did it. This leads to a victim mentality and is useless. I have gradually discovered that if I have ever been a victim, then I am victim of my own folly. This is liberating: it means I am responsible for my own destiny.
  • Mulling on misfortune. This is passive, negative and backward looking. It makes the whole world seem miserable. It is a total waste of life.
Fortunately, I seem to get plenty of practice in dealing with being burned. I now have four automatic reactions to adversity:
  • Take responsibility. I assume that I got myself into the situation, so I can get myself out. Get on with it.
  • Focus on what can be done, not on what can not be done. Even when everything seems out of control, there is always something you can do. It may be small, but do it. Create hope, create movement. Action is better than inaction.
  • Learn from the past, don't dwell on it. By the time I got stiffed for the third time by being too trusting I started to learn about trust. It was very expensive learning: make the most of the investment.
  • Focus on the future. A few times, I have had to start over from scratch. That is a brilliant opportunity to re-invent yourself, discover new skills and build a new life. Celebrate the past, learn from the past but do not live in the past.
As for dealing with the pond-life who have taken advantage of my trust or weakness, I have found a perfect form of revenge. It is called happiness. After all these years, they are still scum and I am still happy: in my book, I've won, they lost and my revenge is complete because there is nothing they can do to change it.

(Pic: DoctorWho cc2.0)

  • Jo Owen

    Jo Owen practises what he preaches as a leader. He has worked with over 100 of the best, and a couple of the worst, organisations in the world, has built a business in Japan; started a bank (now HBOS business banking); was a partner at Accenture and brand manager at P&G. He is a serial entrepreneur whose start-ups include top 10 graduate recruiter Teach First and Start Up, which has helped over 250 ex-offenders start their own businesses. He has and has spent seven years researching leadership, strategy and organisation in tribal societies. His books include "Tribal Business School", "How to Lead and How to Manage." He is in demand as a speaker and coach on leadership and change. His websites include Tribal Business School and Leadership Partnership