• Dick Lam

Handling Attacks - Finding your way around the Corporate & Public World

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Found on Abraham Lincoln

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, they found a few possessions on him.

A Confederate 20 dollar bill.

Glasses repaired with cotton string.

And an old worn out newspaper clipping where the journalist began with:

"Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest statesman of all time..."

Today Abraham Lincoln is recognised as one of the greatest US Presidents. However, he was elected with only 40% of the popular vote and was attacked heavily in his time. He was one of the least popular presidents of all at the time of his election. Many of his own party attacked him. Needless to say, he was also attacked heavily from without in a time of civil war.

Anyone who gets attention with a message or position on an important topic is liable to get attacked.

To stay sane and continue on the path one has chosen, one must be able to gauge correctly the true picture. Respond accordingly.

That newspaper clipping helped to keep positive perspective when under attack. One can imagine Abraham Lincoln taking it out and reading it under times of personal crisis.

What to do with attacks

At times, attacks and criticisms might be warranted. Correction can be made.

But the problem arises when one responds to criticism, introverts on it without a balanced view on what the true overall picture.

Restaurants often do this. 100 satisfied customers like a great a dish but do not tell you. One person who didn't like it says it had too much fat. The fat is then trimmed, but the flavour goes - 100 other customers start leaving. You don’t know what went wrong.

I remember having Sales runs - selling lots or selling none for periods of time. It is a result of perspective. If you are failing you missed the true picture and started buying the negative one from the customer. 

One can introvert on an attack or criticism and fail to see all the successes and people who might be one's support.

Martin Luther King once said "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

It is quoted in the area of customer service that someone is 8 times more likely to complain than to praise.

If one applies that percentage - then one might take any praise they get and multiply that by 8 – that is how many people really liked you.

Or read that same positive article over and over again - as did Abraham Lincoln.

And in this way you can manage to keep perspective.

Keeping one's way of doing it

Even with dozens of articles I’ve written, I find some of the articles with the best positive responses still get attacked – or people wait for a slightly controversial topic to ‘jump to attack’.

Some of it might have been legitimate. But with anything done publicly, one is liable to get shot at at some point.

With improved communication and skill attacks can be negated. But some will remain.

But the biggest problem?

One starts to moderate himself in light of the attack. The message is a little bit more mild, a little bit more general, a little less frequent, but much less effective.

Like the person who spends the rest of his life in the middle. Invisible.

But you also stop making a difference to anyone.

I often observe posts on Facebook – what gets the most likes. I found the most liked posts were nice but not particularly impinging.

The things that genuinely impinge, even positively, you will get attacked or not ‘liked’. It is not popular to be potentially unpopular.

I have earned a few awards and recognition in my time. But the reality is the thing that really made a difference, the thing that was hard and might have saved a company or saved someone… also made a few enemies.

You didn’t get awards for that. The awards were for ‘popular’ but relatively easy or natural things. Just like a nice Facebook post.

If you got praise it was private. But you remembered it.

Just Do It

A wise man named once said to me:

"Do you know why some people never do anything that gets them into trouble? It's because they never do anything!!!"

Or worse. One starts doing it someone else's way, the best way to lose any power you might have.

The only way I believe to be effective in a field is to excel at it. The only way to excel at it is to do it - lots.

Confidence in one's ability will bring more life to what one is doing.

This will over time allow you brush aside attacks from the weak - this will get you into  bigger games - but bigger attacks.

It is a cycle, but not necessarily a vicious one.

Eventually you will win. But all along the way there are smaller wins.

So go out and do it your way.

Lots of it.

Until you are the King (or Queen) of it.

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