Give someone power and you shall see their true face

It doesn’t even matter if the power comes with money or not. It’s about the superiority, it’s about the ability to influence other people’s faith, it’s about being called a “leader” or a “successful person”, it’s about authority. Authority…”the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience” is one of the definitions provided by Oxford Dictionary.

There are always two invitations that come with power: one invitation is to act like the most knowledgeable person in the room, to be arrogant, to grow your ego way above the substance, to mistreat everyone who’s below you, to be rude, to forget about empathy and altruism. The other invitation is to inspire, to change things for the better, to contribute to the development of your community, to help other people in need when you can. Humbleness. It’s so easy to forget to be humble! And these two parties that you’re invited at are happening at the same time, you must choose which party you want to attend.

On Monday evening I thought that by today I might have to go back to Botswana or Zambia. My application for a visa extension in Namibia was “deferred for interview”, yet everyone interviewing me didn’t have the authority to extend my visa, only Mr. Knowitall could do that, but he was not in the office. No problem, I had time, I had postcards to write, a book to read, a new structure for my blog to think about and I’m a patient person (usually…).

After some time, one of his colleagues gave me his phone number. I put on my very formal and polite voice and decided to call Mr. Knowitall. Who was I? What did I want? What nationality was I? I should go back the next day at 8 a.m., not possible today. He was driving, he couldn’t talk. If he got a traffic fine, he would make me pay for it. But tomorrow I was planning to…the connection broke before I could explain. Cool! That went well, I thought! Great conversation! And after all I only really waited for 5 hours!

The next morning Mr. Knowitall was in the office, but he was determined to make me wait some more. For sure he’s worth more than 5 hours! I got lucky, though, I can’t complain. Warmhearted Miss Mary knew my case, I had submitted the documents to her, but she didn’t have the authority. She went to talk to him and managed to solve my problem in the next 15 minutes. So, efficiency is possible after all!

I didn’t get to meet Mr. Knowitall personally. It was probably for the better since the monologue that was going on in my mind at that time was somewhere along the lines: “Dear Mr. Knowitall, please give me my passport back so that I can book a flight to Botswana for tonight. Namibia might be a cool country, but I don’t have to volunteer and spend my savings in your country, I can also do that somewhere else since Your Highness can’t extend my visa because you’re obviously too busy abusing your position. Thank you very much for all your help!”

But this is not just about my visa extension…it’s also about corruption, about government officials, about managers of charities, about Dr. Sun, about successful businesses, about leaders. Once they get the power, they all receive two invitations for two different parties that are happening at the same time. Which one would they go to? Give someone power and you shall see their true face.

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