A decade ago, I had a job on the shop floor of a Cash & Carry supermarket. The pay was awful but I had a lot of friends there, and we had a great time together—playful banter and practical jokes were the order of the day. It more than made up for the low paycheck.

I had been quite happy there for around six months when a position opened up for an IT manager in the company. This sounded great, so I applied; a week later, I started my new job. I welcomed the change in my life, but I didn’t realize how much would change, or how quickly.

Within a week of becoming a manager, I found myself transformed into a horrible and arrogant dictator. I ordered my friends around like slaves, never shared a laugh with them, and no longer went to the staff room for my breaks. I had total disdain for people to whom I’d felt so close just one week earlier. Once I even stopped a good friend from going home because his work wasn’t finished.

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I saw the effect I was having on other people, but I didn’t care. My newfound power was like a drug, and it had taken over. On some level, I knew I had changed, but I wouldn’t completely admit it to myself—until the day my four-year-old son asked his mummy why daddy had become so horrible. That stopped me in my tracks. The next day, I asked for my old job back. I didn’t want to be this person any longer. I was told “no chance,” so I handed in my notice and left without a backward glance.

Lessons learned? Plenty. The main one is to look in the mirror every day. If you don’t like the person looking back at you, then do something about it fast. I realize how the power went to my head as I had control over other people. Now I’m a freelance designer, and I love every second of it. Never again will I be poisoned by power.

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