I am sat in a meeting and I am having to endure a colleague droning on about his ideas for increasing market share. He is stood at the front of the room holding everybody’s attention. I am not enjoying this. I feel unsettled and slightly queasy knowing that people are listening to what he has to say and not paying me any heed. I can hear the whispers from my personal tormentor as she reminds me of how nobody is looking to me. I fight the urge to hurl a laptop though the plate-glass screen behind me in order to create some drama, but it is hard. If the Chief Executive was not sat two seats away to my left I may well have done it. With him there however I need to focus on my A game. I write that my colleague has everyone’s attention. That is not true. Well, almost everybody’s attention. He does not have my full attention. Fortunately for me, I am able to triple track and I am listening to his dull diatribe, whilst I formulate my questions for him and I am always casting occasional glances at the recently promoted Lucy who is sat directly across the boardroom table from me. I have spoken to her a few times but her recent elevation makes her of greater interest to me. Her recent success has grabbed my attention. I like to be surrounded by the successful, just so long as they are not more successful than me. Very few are, I always identify some of their faults and weaknesses, it is a skill I possess. I glance down and tap in a text message to Lucy.

“I like your blouse, is it T M Lewin?” and send it to her. I see her move slightly as her ‘phone vibrates in her pocket and her eyes catches mine (again). I cock my head indicating for her to check her pocket. She gives me a slightly quizzical look but the smile is there and her arm moves indicating that she has reached for her mobile. She looks down and I wait, feeling  slight surge inside of me as I wonder what she will write in reply.Notice how I know that she will reply. That is not in question. I see her head remain looking downwards and after a few seconds my phone vibrates in my hand as she replies.

“Yes it is, thanks for noticing. Great tie by the way x”

She is right about the tie and I notice the kiss. The door is open. I feel the satisfying surge of power at having acquired her attention and simultaneously revel in the fact that now two of us are not paying full attention to Monroe as he stands pontificating and spouting his corporate claptrap. The moron. The texts ping back and forth between Lucy and I as we exchange mutual compliments and my charm begins to have its effect on her. The whispering ghost has not been silenced as she continues to mutter in my ear, trying to point out that more people are listening to Monroe than are paying attention to me and that is because I am insignificant and uninteresting. I have this battle on a daily basis. The never-ending tug of war between my own personal tormentors who seek to paralyse me with fear and self-loathing and my need to keep them at bay as I drink deep from the fuel that I find around me. I look up and see that Lucy, beautiful, sensual Lucy is texting again but what is that over her shoulder? There in the window that overlooks the city beyond I see a reflection. It is a thin-faced, leering and insipid looking thing. The creature is back trying to unsettle me and unnerve me, His wan smile plays about those thin lips and he begins mouthing something at me. I do not try to decipher it as the phone buzzes and I smile at Lucy’s response.

“HG, what is your view on that point?” asks Monroe. I can tell from his tone that he is both irritated and sensing the opportunity to point score. He has noticed that Lucy and me have apparently disengaged from his presentation and this has got under his skin. That is good. I can feel the flames rising inside and then they surge higher as faces turn to me. Monroe thinks that he is going to show me up. He thinks I have not been listening. You have under-estimated me again you dough-faced cookie cutter. You are not equipped to deal with the likes of me and whilst I have been texting Lucy I have continued to listen to his words. That is the skill I have and he does not. That is why I am soon to be promoted again, leaving him in my wake. I purposefully do not reply immediately as I finish the text to Lucy and fire it off. I look up and fix my gaze on Monroe, who I notice has unbuttoned his top button behind his tie, not professional or smart Monroe when you are addressing us. I can see from the position of his mouth that he is waiting to add some sardonic comment. He thinks my hesitation in answering is a mark of having caught me out. He is wrong. I am savouring having everyone’s attention on me. He is on the side of my tormentors wanting to do me down. His face seems to shift as it becomes the creature that stalks me, but it is not working. I smile and fire back my carefully constructed point in a succinct sentence. The creature fades leaving the panicked expression of Monroe as the forensic brilliance of my comment hits home.

“An excellent point, ” adds our Chief Executive and I cannot help but smile as the power rages through me. There are murmurs of assent as the lily-livered hangers-on around the table curry favour by supporting the Chief Exec’s appreciation of my point. I do not care for their flip-flopping since it has given me further attention. As Monroe hesitates I throw another verbal grenade at him. Foolishly, he catches it and it explodes in his face as the Chief Exec presses him to respond to my point. I look to Lucy and she is returning my gaze with admiration writ large. My phone buzzes and I look down

Yes drinks at 6pm will be great, I will come to your office first x’

Another surge and the whispering ghost has been silenced. The beast tries over and over again to drag me into the abyss but so long as I draw breath I have the means and the skills to tame it. My destruction of Monroe who has now gone bright red as he stammers an ineffectual response and the knowledge that I will be with Lucy this evening, in a bar of colleagues who will be all congratulating me on my performance today fills me with an amazing sense of strength and power. Perhaps I will win this war with the creature within after all?



The inside track from the dark-hearted master

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I don’t just love attention, I need it in order for me to survive. What you must understand that is someone of my talents needs to have those attributes recognised by all and sundry on a regular and repeated basis. It is not enough for me to know how special I am. There is nothing to be gained by my brilliance only being admired by me. That is self-defeating. You may not be used to adulation but once you have tasted it, you need it again and again and again. Ask anyone who has basked in the heady limelight of fame. It is addictive. You know it to be true, whether it is from having your video viewed many times on Facebook to having a starring role in the local amateur dramatics production. That is why so many of these stars, many from yesteryear, embark on comeback tours or release a further book. Do U2 or the Rolling Stones need any more money? Of course they do not, but they are hooked on the admiration of a millions through the attendances at concerts, the repeated Youtube viewings and the praise from the numerous reviews that are written. Why do fading stars make appearances on celebrity versions of reality television shows? Simple. They want the admiration of their audience again. They cannot survive without it. Are those celebrities and starts narcissists? More than likely. As I explained in Reach the Top, in order to climb the peak of excellence you need the focus and drive afforded to my kind and me. We channel our energies into gaining recognition and the pay-off is the provision of admiration. It is only correct and fair.

Of course our demand for attention is such that we must have it all the time. We cannot allow anyone else to have some of that attention. You might think that even if we receive some massive recognition and praise that we would be content to allow someone a look in, even for a short period of time. Not a chance. We cannot help ourselves but scheme to commandeer the attention again. This will be done by demeaning you or doing something outrageously outlandish so all eyes come back to us and away from you. Our behaviour in this regard is brazen and brash. We will do whatever it takes to ensure we get the attention again. Yes, we know that at times our conduct is entirely preposterous. For example, on our birthday we will revel in the fact that you will festoon us with presents in the morning and enjoy everybody handing them to us wishing us well for the day. We bask in the attention you have laden on us by choosing the exactly correct piece of latest technology that we had been hankering for. By the afternoon, as the attention has waned, we will want to stoke it up again and we will criticise your gift choice, finding some minor point to complain about in the expectation (not hope) that you will turn on the attention again. You may have to do this by placating our irritation or even going so far as purchase something else for us. We know you will do it as we have you conditioned to react in this fashion in order to service our unreasonable demands for attention. It is your role to keep that spotlight shining on us and ensure the bulb never blows nor is there an electricity cut. It is exhausting work but we need it in order to survive and you would not want us fade away would you? Not if you know what is good for you, you won’t.

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Arm yourself with understanding and knowledge. Know your foe.

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I do find it fascinating that you take everything so personally. You complain about the amount of time which I spend playing a strategy game on my laptop or fiddling with my iphone. I am enjoying playing that game or connecting with people through social media on my Iphone, it is nothing against you. Just because I spend an entire afternoon cleaning, waxing and polishing my car, you go into a sulk. Why? The fact I really like my new car and take pride in keeping it looking good is surely a good thing isn’t it? You automatically assume that it is some kind of slur against you because I am outside buffing the bodywork and not sitting talking to you. I choose to go to the match with a few friends rather than go shopping with you and there is an almighty bust-up. Why is that? I like watching sport and shopping does not really interest me. In fact, I prefer to do my shopping online or if I do go to the stores, I go alone. That way I know what I want, I can go and buy it and then leave. In and out. The best method and preferable to dawdling along behind slow-walking people in a mall. Yet you seem to regard this choice of mine as some kind of stain against your character. It is not.

Even when we have one of our frequent arguments and I hurl insults at you, you always take them to heart. You should not do so. I may criticise your haircut or the jumper you are wearing, I may seize on a character trait and make that a source of a scathing remark against you and you go to pieces. There is no need. I do not actually see you. You are but an object to me and I insult everybody. I have no prejudices, I hate everybody equally. You happen to bear the brunt of these remarks because you spend more time with me. I do the same in the workplace or amongst certain friends. It is not personal to you at all, I am merely pressing the button on the relevant appliance to ensure that I am getting my fix of fuel. For some reason, you descend into a spiral of despair and question your self-esteem and worry about your self-worth. You sit with a trusted circle and recount the torments and insults (why do that? You are just pulling the scab off the wound) as you question why is it you that I am so awful to. It isn’t you. I have no concept of you. You and all the other appliances blur into one. You are machines for the production and provision of fuel. Perhaps if you started to remember that that is the case you would feel less troubled by my behaviour and remarks in the future. Try it, you never know you might just for once stop thinking that it is all about you.