He Had to Choose Between Being Feared or Being Loved and This Is What He Chose

I sat down with my friend in the local cafe the other day and he told me about the difficult decision he had to make at work:

“As you know, I was recently promoted at work. It was kind of strange at first because I’m in charge of my former co-workers. These were the same people I joked with and complained to when the boss gave us extra work. Now, I’m in charge of them.”

I said, “Congrats, by the way.”

“Thanks.” He took a sip of the tea and continued, “I was in charge of the hospital. I had to handle the admissions in the ED and the consults. Two of my peers handled the floor. However, I was responsible for making sure the floor ran smoothly.”

I nodded.

“I came in at 8 in the morning, quickly looked up my consult patients and went to work. I interviewed and examined them and then rounded with the attendings. I blazed through the orders & notes. Then ran to the ED and handled all the admissions. They kept on piling in and piling in. I worked at full-speed and was able to keep everything under control. But barely.”

“Ben, that’s crazy. Did you have help?”

“They were busy as well. They had to see a bunch of patients too, rounding with attendings, and write the notes. That is why I don’t bother them too much. But then patients kept on flooding into the ED. It was getting too much. At one point, after all my work, I still had 4 patients waiting for me. So by the late afternoon, I told them that I may need them to help in the ED. They’re supposed to take over the ED by 2:00 PM, but I held onto the work because I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I was in their shoes less than a year ago.” My friend’s eyes narrowed. “Guess how they responded to my request.”

“I’m guessing it wasn’t what you wanted to hear.”

“They said that they had 17 patients each and were too busy to help out.” Ben slammed his fist onto the table. The people at the nearby table glanced at us. He noticed and regained his composure. “Seventeen patients. They should already be done … or close to it. The floor wasn’t even packed. Tell me the sob story when the floor is bursting through the seams.”

I leaned forward and asked, “What did you say?”

“I told them that’s nice to know. They will continue with their work and will check in with me once they’re done. And that I hope the ED pace slows down. I was trying to be diplomatic, but I was seething inside. I had all the duties of my promotion but none of the respect. I bet if I didn’t start out in the same group as them, I would have gotten a completely different answer.”

Ben sat back and took another sip. “Of course, the ED did not slow down and I needed the help. If they help only after finishing their work, they would have every reason to work as slowly as possible. So I just told them that one of them had to do the admission for bed 3. They replied that they were still busy and to give it to someone else. All I needed was for them to handle one stupid admission for the day and they refused.”

“What? Oh wow.” A junior refusing a senior is a big no-no in medicine. “How did you respond?”

Machiavelli Was Right

I thought about my friend’s dilemma the whole night and I remembered how Machiavelli said it was better for a leader to be feared than loved:

And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. For of men it may generally be affirmed, that they are thankless, fickle, false studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you are able to confer benefits upon them, and ready, as I said before, while danger is distant, to shed their blood, and sacrifice their property, their lives, and their children for you; but in the hour of need they turn against you.

Machiavelli is an astute judge of human nature and noticed that mankind is selfish. People will take as much as possible while give as little as possible. And if you depend on their word, their morals, or their honor to help you out when you are in trouble, expect to be disappointed.

Why is love fickle but fear consistent? Human nature.

Love grows by being nice and by giving rewards. But love is hard to sustain. Mankind is never satisfied. Everyone has a tolerance for niceness and rewards. This means that the good things you do and gifts you give will be the new norm. The selfish nature turns them into entitlements. Therefore, if I give an employee a raise year after year after year, they will view a raise as his just due. And if I did not give him a raise after many years of raises, he will complain and resent me.

David from the Bible killed Goliath and saved Israel the Palestine. Almost everyone loved him and cheered, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” But when the king at the time, Saul, tried to kill David, no one but his best friend, Jonathan, tried to save him. Love is so fickle.

Fear grows by punishment or the threat of. Thus, fear is much easier to sustain because it is rooted in self-preservation. There is no tolerance for self-preservation. You are either safe or you are not. You do not have to keep on increasing punishment to maintain the same level of fear. With caning and capital punishment, no wonder Singapore’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the world.

Man Should Seek Respect

Masculinity seeks strength and power and influence. Men find strength and power and influence through money, status, and fame. A masculine man … a top man must seek respect over love. The Bible even instructed wives to respect their husbands. A husband loves his wife, and a wife respects her husband.

What is respect? Controlled fear. As long as hatred does not accompany fear, fear will turn into respect. As long as a man displays no weakness and keeps his word, he will gain respect.

You gain respect in 4 steps:

1. Tell people what you expect. Your expectation should be fair or rational to the majority.
2. Punish those who do not meet your expectations. This gives weight to your expectations.
3. Reward those who meet your expectations. This doubles the weight to your expectations.
4. Keep your word or seem like someone who does. Back up your words with action. Then you will build your reputation as someone reliable and worth respecting.

Once in a while, give an expected gift or do something nice to build love. Fear and respect are the main dish, but love is the spice.

Man shouldn’t seek love. Love is for woman. More importantly, man shouldn’t seek love from a woman. The only woman, if any, who can love a man is his mother. A man should seek respect. The Bible said, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Therefore, you should not tolerate disrespect from a woman. On one of my walks through a suburban neighborhood, I encountered one of the saddest moments in the world and cringed. The husband was in the garage with the doors opened. He was preparing to mow the lawn. A whale with legs waddled up to him and shouted at him in a voice so shrill, I could not even make out what she was saying. The poor chap took it like a chump, head bowed low and face downcast. The whale waddled away and the man proceeded with the yard work. What a life.

When a woman no longer respects you, you should no longer tolerate her. Do not love her. Let her leave. Kick her out. Send her to a man you dislike. Whatever the case, keep your dignity.

This Is What My Friend Did

“How did you respond?” I asked.

“I went to the ED and told the staff that one of the juniors will take care of bed 3. So if ED staff complained why it was taking so long to admit the patient, I will tell them to contact my former peers directly. The work will get done one way or another. Lucky for them, the night cavalry came early. I explained the situation to him and he admitted bed 3.”

My friend seemed irritated. “Their attitude pisses me off so much. And I’ve worked with them in the past. I watched out for them. I did more than my fair share so they wouldn’t be overburdened. And when I needed their help, this is how they repaid my kindness. They will not get off so easily for insubordination. I thought about getting the chief involved. Oh, I so wanted to. But before I did anything rash, I weighed the pros and cons of punishing them. For pros, I would gain respect. If there is a next time with those two, the same event would not happen again. For cons, I would lose their friendship.” Ben shrugged and continued, “But that is the price of being in charge. And anyways, they aren’t my friends. We don’t hang out after work and they never got my back during work. So you want to know what I did?”

“You got back at them.”

He smiled.

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