To many, “Vengeance,” the mental habit of Eights, sounds like a very negative word. Revenge, vengefulness, and vengeance connote doing harm to others or “primitive justice.” “An eye for an eye” is what we think of with the word vengeance. For Eights, “vengeance” refers to the mental process of redressing or re-balancing wrongs through thoughts of anger, blame, or methods of intimidation; it is not the action itself; it is the thought related to such action. When Eights think this way, it sets off an emotional response pattern of anger (and sometimes sadness or anxiety) and can, but does not always, fuel a forthcoming action.
For Eight leaders to move from “vengeance” to the higher belief of “truth” is a big move. “Truth” is the ability to seek and then integrate multiple points of view in search of the bigger truth, possible truth of a capital T. This is so hard for Eights because they actually think (at least most of the time) that they have a sense of the truth, one that comes from their gut. And it is a truth they believe they can trust. But the problem is that this is only one truth, a slice of the truth-pie, and many Eights find this frustrating or even anxiety producing so they get angry. Eights may say there are many opinions, but not so with the truth. This is “this or that” thinking in which Eights often engage. To say this another way, if there is more than one truth, then Eights may say, “but not all other ideas are equally valid or truthful; therefore, there must be one truth.” To embrace multiple truths, Eights have to go beyond their beloved guts into arenas where they are unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and where they don’t have much control! And sometimes this happens at home, not at work!
Such is the case with Robert, a highly successful lawyer, a leader in his firm, a well-respected advisor to corporations. At 45, he had never been married, thought he might want to have children one day, wasn’t sure where he would find the time to do so, and had been dating a woman (a One) for a little over a year. Although I had been consulting with Robert about a firm-wide project, he called me into his office for an altogether different matter. “Sit down,” he commanded. “I need you to tell me what to do!” And here was the story he told. His girlfriend had given him an ultimatum. Propose to her within three months or she would leave him. His thinking was in the realm of “this or that.” Either he propose or she leaves him. Either he gives into her demands (aka control) or he does not. For a man who always seemed to know what to do immediately, he was at a loss.
I knew the stakes were high, and I usually don’t give so much advice, especially in these matters when I am not so close to the situation. However, I actually jumped in, mostly to show him the multiple realities involved in the situation. I explained the situation from her point of view. Her truth was that he had been a bachelor for so long, she did not want to wait around unless he was serious about her. So she gave him an ultimatum, not the best way to get a proposal and certainly not from an Eight. I explained the situation from his point of view. Would he give into a demand? Not likely! Could he get beyond the ultimatum to figure out a variety of action (or inaction choices) he actually had available to him, other than to get mad about the way in which he currently felt cornered? Maybe!
Now we were in more dimensions that just one truth. So I asked him a few questions:
Question: Do you love her? Answer: Yes.
Question: Do you want to marry her? Answer: Yes, at some point.
Question: How long? Answer: Not sure; not too long.
From these short questions and answers and from the multiple dimensions of reality perspective, I told him this very practical advice: If you say yes to this ultimatum, the two of you will be in a control struggle for the rest of your lives. She will feel she has control, you will feel you gave it up, she will never be sure you really wanted to marry her, and you won’t be either. So what about this? Tell her you love her, tell her you want to marry her, tell her you don’t want to adhere to a 3 month time period, and if this is OK with her, assure her she will be very happy about it!
Robert looked at me stunned, laughed heartily, and said thank you. And apparently this multiple view of reality worked, they are happily married, and Robert just doesn’t seem to approach most things as a “this or that” decision any longer. Maybe he learned you get more of what you really want if you give up some of what you think you really need.