Some will see commonality in the situations of Stephen Hester, now forced to be the most poorly rewarded bank chief executive in Britain, and Fred Goodwin, but I see them as far apart from each other, though both were former RBS heads, and both have been humiliated in what is now publicly being called a witch hunt - otherwise there are big differences. One is judged to have failed badly in his job, the other is acknowledged to be doing a difficult job well; one is reviled, one is respected still albeit grudgingly by some; one has been ruined in every human respect bar money, the other is seen as indispensable; one has lost a part of his identity, the other has not.
The details of the cases of these two men are of little interest to me, but certain aspects of them have given me much cause for reflection, about judgment and kindness, for example, karmic lessons and life learnings, names and identity. It is largely forgotten that Fred Goodwin was forced to take a reduction in his RBS pension because of public anger, and while it may have been an annoyance at the time no doubt he has accepted it now; the loss of his title, however, the change to his name overnight may be a sore that will be raw for the rest of his life. He will be reminded constantly when letters arrive for him, when he is introduced to someone, when he has to order new stationery, when he answers the phone. The identity which was a reflection of his banking and life achievements has been taken away.
We will not know, of course, the impact this has on him, for it will depend upon how far he has associated himself with the label of his name, profession and knighthood. If he is relaxed about the new attack on the identity by which he has been known publicly, it will be a praiseworthy proof that he has no attachment in that regard. The more hurt he is - and it would be a human and understandable reaction - the more he may see how caught up he has been with being viewed, by himself and others, as the label and not the individual. It is what lies beneath the label that matters, and the more we each can see this for ourselves and in ourselves, the better.]]>