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King John’s Not-So-Hidden Motivations October 21, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Life Balance, People, Spirit & Ego.

As it turns out, Cindy’s “premonition” of a Part 2 to Robin Hood & The Green-Eyed Monster was correct (though a Part 2 was not under consideration when I penned the initial post).  

Nice one, Cin!

* * * * * 

We see the world behind our eyes.  It is difficult to step into the shoes of another and understand WHY they turned out as they did, and WHY they are motivated to act as they do.  

I certainly don’t understand someone like King John.  How could I?  He believed he had a divine right to rule others.  I certainly have no experience in that realm.

But even when we don’t understand what “makes someone tick,” we can often see the “immediate” motivation for specific actions and decisions they make.

Watching Robin Hood, it became clear that King John wanted all eyes pointed in HIS direction. 

He didn’t care whether people loved him, or feared him, as long as they hung on his every word.  When Robin Hood garnered too much attention, albeit unwittingly, King John grew jealous and declared him an outlaw of the realm.  Instead of rewarding Robin for his efforts (made on the King’s behalf), he punished Robin for performing above and beyond the call of duty.  

Likewise, we may have no idea WHY a supervisor places the need for admiration above the good of the department as a whole, but it won’t take long for team members to see that that is, in fact, what is happening.

The words, actions, and demeanor of narcissistic leaders clue us in to the truth:  the “King Johns” of the world don’t want “superstars” working for them. 

Narcissists are unable to share the limelight without succumbing to envy and fits of jealous rage. 

So, what happens?

Team members learn NOT to draw attention to themselves.  They stop living up to their full potential.  They learn to “tone it down” ~ to do enough to satisfy “King John” without incurring his wrath.

After a few bumps and bruises sustained during “run ins” with a narcissistic boss, team members remember to hide their light under a rock to make “King John’s” light appear brighter.  They make sure that the spotlight is ALWAYS aimed in his direction, and they quickly hand him the microphone while fading into the background.

In time, the envy and jealous rage of narcissistic leaders affects the bottom line.  As team members tone down their efforts, the team as a whole suffers.  No one is willing to draw attention to themselves by striving to do their best.  The team’s reputation with clients and competitors becomes tarnished.

To stay in business, a new leader must take the helm or “King John” must  change his leadership style. 

Under leadership that encourages everyone to put their best foot forward, the team is more likely to reach its full potential.  Everyone pulls together as one, focusing on the good of the team as a whole.   Team members play to each other’s strengths and delegate work accordingly. 

Everyone shares the spotlight and reaps the rewards.


1. Naomi - October 21, 2010

Great post, Nancy – and totally in line with Robin Sharma’s book that I’m busy reading, “Leadership Wisdom from the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” 🙂

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

OMG! I love that title!

I’ve heard of Robin Sharma, but not that book. I’ll have to check it out.

2. loreen lee - October 21, 2010

Have faded to black. Will not ask ‘why’! grin grin.

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Fair enough.

3. souldipper - October 21, 2010

Outed, your Kingship! 🙂

loreen lee - October 21, 2010

grin grin

4. Cindy - October 22, 2010

Yay, fantastic writing!

nrhatch - October 22, 2010

Thanks, Cin.

Your “premonition” was right on the money. Maybe the accupuncture needle hit a portal to the future?

5. loreen lee - October 22, 2010

Just one little addendum. Although I agree with you that we can’t see the hidden motivations, King John would have had authority to rule by the Divine Right of Kings invested in him. This right substantiated his rule, and was the legal basis for his authority. The compilation of history is a difficult task. It is the search for facts. I would believe you might accept the distinction between motivation and intent. Intent, is of course recognized within law today, but is assessed I understand on the basis of fact.
Such assessment is as I stressed with a previous distinction is based on words and actions, not thought, not conjecture. It is an assessment that is governed somewhat like a theory governs scientific observations. Intent is directed towards the external world, people, things within that world. Thus I have made the distinction with motivation, to define those thoughts and feelings which reflect the interior dimensions of any particular individual; as Habermas might say, the life world; the private,and the personal. If I were to write of my life world, then, my motivations would probably not be fully disclosed even to myself, but under the intention to make this world more visible, I would be disclosing thoughts, feelings and actions, whether sincere, true or false, or justified within the historical space of the external world. They would no longer be motivations. Whether they would be biographical or fiction however, would be another matter to consider. Thank you.

nrhatch - October 22, 2010

All I’m saying is that the words and actions of others often do reveal their underlying motivations if we remain aware in our dealings with them, rather than engaging in knee-jerk reactions.

If X gets angry with Y and shouts, “God damn it, we’re tired of hearing about your perfect life!” . . . it’s a good bet that jealousy, envy, and the green-eyed monster are rearing their ugly heads somewhere in X’s mind.

Of course, other motivations may be at play. X could be acting, and just pretending to be angry and jealous. 🙂

6. loreen lee - October 22, 2010

I would keep it to intent, or a descriptive metaphysics. Did the person intend to get angry, and leave it at that. Unfortunately, with the demise of religion, and it could be argued even before that, there is little protection for the personal. We no longer confess in confidence to a priest, but confessions to a psychiatrist for instance will not necessarily be held with confidentiality. There has to be a means of protection of thought and feeling within this new age we are moving into. I am consequently please that recent philosophy is concerned with drawing those parameters. This will help preserve ‘freedom of conscience, and privacy, if not integrity when it comes to feeling. It is known, for instance, that an anger can be an expression of love. If we saw a mother angry at a child for ignoring a stop sign, we have only the situation by which to place our judgment. Would we act on impulse, or would we allow our immediate emotional reaction, to be put through the distinctions offered by reason. There are many judgments possible. The mother is concerned for her child’s safety; anger the expression of love. The mother doesn’t give a hoot, but is angry at something the child did, which resulted in the child unthinkingly running away from the mother onto the street. I’m sure you would be able to come up with alternative short stories, and even have them published as a book of possibilities. With this as an example, I would want more information in this case. And I might add in cases of supervisors, and Robin Hoods, and even in our on-going ‘relationship’. I’m not looking to critique you, personally. But close inspection of what constitutes such factors is of great concern to recent philosophy, from ‘A Theory of Communicative Action’, to studies in poetic interaction. Judgment is however, based initially on the emotions not on reason. I’m stoic and Buddhist enough to feel we need, each one of us to ‘vindicate’ our reasons, and not simply ‘judge’ people. Thank you.

nrhatch - October 22, 2010

Observing people and their preferred patterns of behavior to ascertain underlying motivation does not, in all instances, necessitate judging their character.

I’ll let the philosophers struggle with developing a more comprehensive theory of communicative action. I’m just interested in learning how to deal with people as they are . . . and perhaps encouraging people to examine their own underlying motivations for acting.

7. loreen lee - October 22, 2010

I just went down stairs to finish my diet pepsi and I had the thought that maybe you would prefer, because I take up so much space, (as one reason) that I place these expansions of your thesis on my Blog, poeticinteraction. That is actually, following an example you have set, when you open a new post, it seems, that clarifies sometimes how you feel about my submissions. I trust that this would not be a subterfuge, but in case of like possibility, I herein request whether you would deem this appropriate, and a better way to communicate. It would allow me the ‘existential’ examples, on which to base theory, which I would prefer to what you also said was not a good idea, that is any kind of
‘reality TV.’ whether of myself or others, because it would be dealing primarily with intent and not motivation, (the technical terms I am using) Although conjectures could be made, (that is opinion and belief, as distinguished from ‘real’ knowledge, as in your post, on the given material, these too would serve as examples. I would hope to give some kind of illumination here however. on the relevant philosophical issues. I wonder then: a) if you acknowledge this idea, and b)whether you could or would want to adjudicate any submissions as it is possible that you are still subscribed to the website. Thank you.

nrhatch - October 22, 2010

I’m growing weary of this specific poeticinteraction. I’m ready to turn my attention to a different topic.

Maybe I have ADHD? 🙂

loreen lee - October 22, 2010

I’m not that intelligent. Don’t know what ADHD is. Fortunately, (because I infer that it’s not something you like), I’ve never been assessed as suffering from it. But I will withdraw the idea.

nrhatch - October 22, 2010

It’s not a bad idea . . . but you may need to find someone other than me with whom to debate these issues.

I’ve lots to discuss here, and I generally prefer to focus on the “forest” rather than on specific “trees” . . . I’d rather get people thinking about broad issues, without feeling the need to pin down the “right” answer for any specific situation.

ADHD = Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Someone who cannot focus on one subject for sustained periods of time, and who has a hard time “sitting still.”

8. loreen lee - October 22, 2010

It’s good that each individual has their own philosophy of life. All the best.

nrhatch - October 22, 2010

I agree!

While we can learn from the philosophies of others, when we take the time to fashion our own custom made philosophy . . . it generally fits better.

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