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The Drug of Power

Our political leaders are repeating the same news. The mediated dramatism keeping us hostage daily to tighten their negotiations makes the last weeks since the elections seem years. But what happens to these figures when they come into contact with power?

This week Antonio Garrigues released his new poetry book, “Living Loves, Dead Loves.” It was an intimate and meaningful event in which several of his poems were recited. Carlos Rodríguez Brown read the last one, addressed to our political leaders, and as he read it, without realizing it, two tears slid down my cheeks. We all were shocked.

Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, director of the Appraisal Society, asked Mario Alonso Puig and me, “But what happens to these people?” And as if it was a cocktail party in which they were going to interrupt us at any time, the three of us agreed to sum it up: “they lose their way when they come to power.”

The question is why. None of us think that we will lose our way if we are suddenly given the maximum position of responsibility in our organizations, and yet it can happen to anyone. We only realize it “a posteriori,” when we look back and reflect on our own excesses.

I think the easiest way to understand the effect of power is to imagine it as an ocean current of oceanic proportions over which we must flow or surf in some direction. Those who have not had power cannot understand what it feels like to have it. It is like a boy thinking from the sand on the beach about what world surfing champions, who risk their lives at every moment on waves tens meters high, are doing badly. The rush of adrenaline and the physical effort they use are literally life or death.

Directing a country or rubbing shoulders with the global elite of the G20 generates the same effect. On one hand, so much force under our feet dislodges us physically and mentally. Our emotional reactions are so intense that they overflow, and our minds escape to some pleasant place of fantasy. The pressure of the phone, the enormous opportunities that open before us and the terrible blackmails that come to look for us like hungry sharks, burn our skin and take away so much sleep, that our minds escape to a state of self-inflated drunkenness. Same as a line of cocaine (I imagine).

That is why power is a drug, because as it saturates us or drowns us quickly, our minds create a scenario in which we are all-powerful and invincible. It makes us supermen and superwomen who can see from the heavens what is happening down there among mortals. And this, you will find very curious, is basically what victims of violent trauma do when their minds do not know how to face the sensory reality of what is happening to them. They separate from their body and watch the scene from the ceiling.

Power, therefore, pushes us to our maximum limit every moment of every day. It intoxicates us with self-elevating pleasure and enslaves us with its pressure and unpredictable movements, thus discovering, in light of everything, any defect in the form or substance of our personalities.

Learn to surf

So, for example, we have seen how Nicolás Sarkozy strives to appear taller than his super model wife in this week’s Paris Match photos. How can a man with the success and charisma he has still feel self-conscious about his height? Marrying a queen of beauty and Parisian sophistication has raised his status socially, but in doing so he subjected himself to the scrutiny of his own self-conscious gaze. Nobody cares about Sarkozy’s height more than Sarkozy.

The more power, the stronger the wave we must surf. And it is easier to dislodge ourselves, lose out footing, or even fall suddenly from our brand-new Buzz Lightyear presidents table: “To infinity and beyond!” aviator glasses, Falcon pose and everything.

The challenge is, therefore, in learning to surf the wave of power without fading out, without saturating ourselves, and without letting ourselves be drowned by the intensity of the emotions from a position of maximum influence. The years of experience with all their troubles, deceptions and failures help a lot. If you do crazy things for love, you also end up doing them to stay in power.

Like a crush that is too intense, there is no bigger disappointment than to suddenly recover sobriety and realize all the stupid and/or terrible things that you have done in order to win the duel of guns at any cost. And if you suffer several disappointments, each time you lose less in your fantasies, learning over the years to accept the reality.

Giving advice to the oceanic surfers of the G20, here from the disembodied beach of executive coaching in a country very resistant to self-questioning, I can only say one thing: everything that you invest in personal growth will prepare you to surf big and complex waves. Coaching-the thing that questions us and makes us see new things; not that of praise and promise of solving the problem – practicing meditation and mindfulness to better manage our own reactions and emotions, returning regularly to spaces of reflection, are the tools that work.

Surfing is learned by surfing. If you analyze how you failed every time you get off the board, you will improve your way of catching the waves. Without miracles or magic, but with effort and time. The one who always knows how to look in the mirror and find points to improve on ends up flowing with authentic tsunamis of power without clinging or hanging onto them. And these influential surfing champions are those leaders who impact with their vision and serve their hearts.


 

Pino Bethencourt 
Coach and founder of Club Comprometidos

Times Keep Changing

The spur that has infected our lives has also infiltrated politics. One month in the 21st century is much more than a year of the twentieth century, and a year equals a decade. While the no-confidence motion that sprung Pedro Sánchez into power from the hands of a heterogeneous group of collaborators still seems to fit within the story, the picture that came out on May 26 renders old, in a very short time, the snapshot of the election results from last April.

Less than a month ago, the PSOE achieved a broad but weak parliamentary majority, Vox entered with unprecedent strength in the Spanish political scene and Ciudadanos claimed a place at the table of the elders, and many rushed to proclaim Rivera the leader of the opposition. Little remains of all that, as the election results of yesterday redrew a political map that few dared to predict less than a month ago.

The most striking change is related to the People’s Party (PP), which many rushed to bury in April. In a single month the PP improved between 4 and 6 percentage points of the vote (between 400,000 and one million more votes in European and municipal elections), surpassing in both elections the symbolic barrier of 20%. Despite obtaining worse results than in 2015, with more than 20,000 councilors throughout Spain the PP is now able to win governments in more provincial capitals (23) and in more major cities (45 of more than 50,000 inhabitants), including the Community of Madrid and the capital of Spain. In addition, the government has leverage forms part of the ruling coalition in four autonomous communities (which would include Galicia and Andalusia), almost half of the Spanish population, also having the Government of Navarre within its reach to subdue the socialists, thanks to its alliance with Ciudadanos and the UPN.

The elections of this past Sunday show that the only alternative to the PSOE in all of Spain is the PP.  Its difference with Ciudadanos reaches between 2 and 3 million votes (depending on which national election you choose). Vox has lost between a half and two thirds of its votes and the PP is the alternative to the PSOE government in all provinces and in all provincial capitals of Spain.

Beyond maintaining territorial power, these results have an essential strategic consequence, by putting Ciudadanos at a strategic crossroads that can determine its political future: to become a fringe party which installs and removes governments, or despite the results, continue working to lead the opposition even within these next four years.

Hold no doubts, however, for in the next few months everything can change again.



Rafa Rubio 
Expert in Political Communication

José Luis Martínez-Almeida, PP Candidate for Mayor of Madrid to Participate in the PROA Comunicación Observatories

José Luis Martínez Almeida, spokesperson of the PP (People’s Party/Partido Popular) and PP candidate for Mayor of Madrid, will participate in a new edition of the PROA Communicación Observatories entitled ‘Recovering Madrid for everyone’. The Observatory will be held on Friday, May 8, 2019, at 09:00AM at the Wellington Hotel (c/Velázquez, 8).

José Luis was born in Madrid in 1975. He holds a Law Degree from the Comillas Pontificial University (ICAI-ICADE) and has been a State Attorney since 2001. He has worked in Girona, Toledo and Madrid. His career as a lawyer of the State is extensive, particularly before the Social Courts and in the Administrative Chamber.

In 2007 he was inaugurated as General Director of Historic Heritage of the Community of Madrid until 2011. Between 2011 and 2013 he was Secretary-General of the Governing Council of the Autonomous Community of Madrid later becoming Secretary-General of the Board of Directors of SEPI Desarrollo Empresarial (SEPIDES), a group of companies owned by the government holding company SEPI, from September 2013 to April 2014, also assuming leadership of its Legal Advising Department.

In April 2014, he was appointed by consensus of the Council of Ministers as Director of the Institutional Legal Division of the Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility.

After the 2015 Municipal and Autonomous Elections he took office as Councilor of PP’s Municipal Group and on April 28, 2017 he was elected as Spokesperson of the Municipal branch of his party, a position he currently holds. On January 13, 2019, he was nominated by his party as the Candidate for Mayor of Madrid. His hobbies include golf and an avid passion for Atlético de Madrid.

Ana Sánchez de la Nieta: “The Internet and new technologies caught the Media by surprise”

The editor of “Conversaciones con,” Ana Sánchez de la Nieta, believes that the Internet and new technologies do not imply a decline in the quality of journalism that is done today, but rather are tools that provide abundant opportunities and possibilities media professionals. This is one of the insights that Sánchez de la Nieta shared during her discussion at the Proa Comunicación Observatory

 

During the meeting, the journalist evaluated her professional career, pointing out some changes that have taken place in the profession, now more deteriorated than ever, especially by how precarious a journalist’s position has become. Such a disruption is also observed through the daily work of professionals, who practice their occupations on many occasions without sufficient means, and through the media which has seen how the Internet and social media had disrupted the conventional model of news production and how this revolution has caught them completely by surprise.

 

On social media, Sánchez de la Nieta emphasizes how it is the best way to “receive feedback” from users in real time. She recognizes how much fake news circulates through these platforms, but for this very reason it is essential that the journalist assumes his/her essential task of checking and verifying the validity and authenticity of information that is diffused through the media.