The Voice Of Fear


How did your revenge feel?

Great for a moment,

and bad for a life time.

When fear takes us over and becomes a righteous voice all about retaliation, it becomes revenge. Revenge enters us into a very dangerous area. Because revenge is a righteous voice of fear, it can justify any behavior. It can be such a highly focused and repressed form of fear that when it finally comes out there are no limits to its destructive force. There are feuds that have gone on for thousands of years that began with revenge.


The problem is that once revenge has a hold of you, you no longer question the original reason for which you sought revenge. I am sure the Hatfields and McCoys can't remember what started their feud, they just know that it became the focus of there lives.


Timothy McVeigh was rejected from the Army Ranger program, and that rejection festered into eventually wanting revenge on the federal government. It is important to understand that revenge is a fear, and when that fear creates a pain that you cannot live with, you will seek revenge. Most of the time revenge is born out of rejection.


The pain of rejection can often times create a desire to seek revenge in order to end that pain. I have been taken over by the need for revenge only once. I wasn't going to kill or do bodily harm, but it was revenge nonetheless.



My Revenge



In the first year of my career as a broker I had a situation arise that had nothing to do with my boss or the firm, but rather my assistant. New brokers start out sharing an assistant, in my case it was one assistant to five brokers. Your assistant can go a long way towards helping or hurting your career based on how quickly they open a new account, relay messages, initiate transfers and help you avoid rookie paperwork mistakes.


My assistant was a male who, on the surface, seemed very professional and eager to support my career. He may have very well felt that way at first, but through a series of events that I was unaware of, he set out to sabotage me. I can’t be exactly sure of the events that changed his attitude, but I later found out that it had something to do with a female broker he was interested in who instead showed me some attention. He did such a covert job sabotaging me that I might have never figured out what he was doing if another assistant had not pulled me over and told me what mine had said to my boss.


One day my boss came by my desk in the afternoon looking for me. When he asked where I was, my assistant told him that he had not seen me. He also told him that this was not unusual. When he asked what he meant by that, the assistant told him that I had been getting in late and leaving early. My assistant knew that I was on out of the office appointments, but painted a very different picture by leaving that information out.  Looking back, I understand why all the client transfers had gone to the wrong places, and it wasn't because I had “filled the forms out wrong.” New accounts that took too long to open because they were “missing information” were never missing said information at all. So many little things added up to delays and inefficiency, and now he told my boss that I wasn’t working very hard.


For the next couple of weeks I observed his behavior and I got to see it for myself. So I set him up and told him that I needed this new account opened as soon as possible because the client was leaving the country. With a smile on his face, he said he would get right on it. I watched all the ways he delayed opening the account, including inputting the social security number wrong so it would be rejected, later claiming he could not read my writing.  Needless to say I was very angry. I felt betrayed and with all the pressure of the job, my most primal instincts were loose. I wish I had had the wisdom and maturity that I do today to just let it go and get another assistant –  but I didn’t. I became overwhelmed by my fear and it fueled a very dark anger. That anger led to revenge. I would never resort to violence or unethical behavior because my basic humanity would not allow it, but I was going to get revenge. The righteous voice in my head cleared a path by saying:  “He started this and he deserves what he is going to get.”


He was a very good tennis player and took a lot of pride in his competitiveness. I also played tennis, but based just on skill he was twice the player I was. I knew that if I invited him to play that he would take great pleasure in beating me. This would be like hanging fresh meat in from of a lion. But I had a plan and it was powered by revenge.


I didn’t let on about knowing what he was doing at work and made sure I gave him plenty of credit for the job he was doing. This only pumped him up and fueled his desire to see me fail even more.


He had been offered the chance to become a broker but didn’t take it. I believe that he was afraid to fail and that was why he had remained an assistant for so long. I also noticed that he went out of his way to help the female brokers, particularly the one that showed an interest in me. I really believe he wanted her to see me fail and at the same time have her look to him to help her succeed.


So the day came that I was ready to ask him if he would like to play tennis. I made sure to let him know that he was probably better than me but it would be great for my game if he would like to play. He lit up at the chance. What he didn’t know was that he was being set up for my revenge. At this point in my life I had a great deal of expertise on how to compete and turn fear onto my opponent. I would learn to understand his fears and then crush him under the weight of them.


He would feel all the pressure to beat me and that would be my edge. As soon as the idea that he might lose hit him he would be done for. He was faster than me and had more power, but I knew how to play a high percentage game and my rage fueled the most unbelievable focus.


I was mostly self-taught at this point, taking my tennis instruction from a book by Vic Braden. Vic’s philosophy was to hit with lots of topspin, clear the net by at least six feet, and try to drop the ball between the serve line and the baseline. If you can do that consistently you will beat most players. This strategy puts all the pressure on your opponent and gives you the best odds for success. 


That day my revenge fueled a level of focus and play that I had never experienced before or since. In the warm-up I pretended to struggle a bit to get him even more confident and set for the kill. During the game, I focused on returning every ball deep and made him come up with winners to take the points.


Amazing things happen when you clear your mind and focus solely on the task at hand.


Within a few games he knew he was in trouble. Every ball came back the same way and he started to try harder and harder to gain control of the points. He supplied the pace which made my job even easier. The more he struggled in my trap, the more the trap tightened around him.


I won the first set 6-0 at which point I thought he was going to fake an injury or something, but he didn’t. He wanted to get right to the next set. He wasn’t smiling much anymore.


Again I hit every ball high over the net with lots of topspin and he kept trying to hit harder and harder. I won the second set 6-1 and was sure he would want to quit, but no. Now he was intense, mad and wanted another shot at beating me. As he was getting ready to serve I walked over to my bag and said that that was all the time I had and we would have to do it another day. He tried his best to convince me to stay but I politely said I would see him at work. I made sure we played on a Friday so he would have all weekend before scheduling another match.


Over the next month we played twice more with the same results. His intensity increased every match, which only made me calmer as the joy of watching him struggle gave me great pleasure. It was towards the end of the third time we played that my fear, and with it my anger, faded. Suddenly the childishness of what I was doing hit me. Fear had brought me down to his level because my desire for revenge had made me righteous and unquestioning of my fear. After all, he was only doing what he was doing out of his fear.


With this realization, all the energy in my body left me and I told him I was going to have to quit. I made up an excuse about my knee hurting. With my anger gone I asked to be moved to another assistant and focused again at the task at hand. Interestingly enough, when I switched assistants he never asked me why. I am not proud of what I did nor would I do that today, but I did learn a valuable lesson about the power and focus revenge can give you. But at the end of the day it steals more from you than anything for which you might want revenge.


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