Aug 25

The Dark Side of Care I

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

Who does not know this inner impulse seeing somebody obviously in need and then addressing him: “May I help you?” Or more sublime: “Do you have enough support”. Or less sublime: “Why don’t you do it this way.” Or even: “I show you the right way.” And finally: “I will help you.”

So, what exactly is the right way? Who decides, what exactly is right? Who exactly decides who needs support or help?

And further: Who decides which quality and which quantity of care is adequate? In which context? Of leadership? Of CSR?

I care for you – but is my offer adequate? Is it respecting self-esteem and self-controll of my counterpart? Or do I establish a relationship of somebody weak and somebody mighty though my inner attitude, a relationship of dependency – and by this, destroying a sustainable, partnering tie shaped by mutual equality and appreciation.

When I worked in South-East-Asia it was Cambodia, which deeply touched my heart in a multiplex way. What I saw in these years, when Cambodia wasn´t yet in focus of mass tourism, that was perfect beauty: a resonance of art, architecture, philosophy, climate, elements, religion and nature – so pure that only imagination of the contemporary mind is able to create such a divine place on earth. In my eyes, Angkor was a magic moment in man´s history – and at the same time I knew, that in ancient times political intrigues and ferocious wars were fought.

And so they were in our times: except for Germany, my native country, I haven´t seen so damned a soil and so debased a soil by political leadership as the Cambodian rice fields and jungles had been by the Khmer Rouge. And I have never seen poverty and suffering to this extent, not in India, not in China, but in Cambodia: old, totally naked women dying in palm leave huts on the sandy ground on top of the embankments; old men with defunct eyes in shredded closing dying on the pavement of a monastery, landmine victims, begging, with only one half of their face left – impressions which did question my right to be happy and which I took as an assignment to do something and to get involved.

And so, three years ago, living again in Germany, I had the intention so realize a non-profit project which was designed to bring management competency those in leading or teaching functions. I understood that education was a key issue to handle the situation. I met many people in Germany and in Cambodia and what I then found out was, that whatever funds I would raise a good part of it would be needed to facilitate a positive decision on the project through those in power.

From the official Cambodian side, only one man in a governor´s office was truly listening to the intent, when I explained what the motivation was to engage myself in his country. He was touched by the initiative, he told me about recent history and said, this is exactly what was needed there. And one of his eyes was crying when he told me this and the other one was starring into nowhere because it was made out of glass.

A good friend of mine who in former times was editing my films asked me how I knew that Cambodians would need such a project. I said that this was obvious. He replied, no. It is not obvious. It is arrogant. They have to find their own way. I said, yes, of course, the project was designed to empower for self-help. To train trainers. And then a discussion started on how to implement western management principles into a Buddhist culture.

But his remark made me think and look deeper into my true motivation.

In the moment I want something for myself when I am caring, helping, giving, my caring, helping, giving is not unconditional anymore, because I expect something in return and if it only is because I want to act in the role of a helper because I feel good with it and it gives me recognition and personal meaning, a purpose. The moment this inner motivation gets too strong – we know the helper syndrome – there is the risk, that I act in a way which is probably creating victims and more dependency. And this is the point, where I start to play a power play losing the care´s case.

Certainly, this is one of the pitfalls in economical and political leadership.

And in the end, what I could do that is to communicate in a way that raises an awareness which matures a behavior that those who are in need speak up and look for personal self autonomy. And that means, that I facilitate a process during which people develop self responsibility and choose how they want to act.

The underlying value to communicate like this is nothing less but unconditional love. And this might be – for all of us – a path towards inner freedom and happiness.

And what this means in a business context, I will point out in one of my upcoming blogs.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 10:15 and is filed under Corporate Social Responsibility, Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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