Monday, September 13, 2010

What If It Was You?

1. You are a high-ranking manager of a company. The vice-president slot is open, and the president chooses you to for the position. You've been running your part of the company fairly well, turning a nice profit and promoting the brand. You get to your new position, are told that you need to launch a new and vital product quickly, and promptly get no support from the president or, for that matter, anyone. You quietly plug away, trying to get the product launched, and encountering obstacles at every turn.
Then the real disaster hits. Your top competitor comes out with something similar but with far more popularity. The president tells you to cut your losses, but the rest of the company publicly blames you for the failure, and it's a work environment that you can't get anything done in. You resign, but stay active in the industry by consulting. But the company's accusations dog you wherever you go, and the competitors join in, saying that you're ineffective (even though that would have been counter-productive to their efforts). They even drag your personal life into it! It is possible to escape, but then you wouldn't be doing what you love in your industry. What do you do?
2. You're going through the motions of filing your taxes one year. You carefully double- and triple-check all the numbers and forms. You send the whole works off, and, like every American, hope and pray that you got everything right. (Unless you're a prominent Democrat. You know that if you don't do it right the IRS won't come after you. In fact, they could even give you a position!) You wait to get your refund, and the IRS suddenly informs you that they're slapping a lien on your house. You're horrified, but you fight back. Finally, they admit that it was a computer error. But your reputation is tarnished, and some people who aren't fond of you to begin with tell everyone they know that you're a tax fraud. You could fight the smears, or you could just ride it out and hope that your reputation is such that people won't believe it. What do you do?
3. You're applying for a fairly prominent job within your company. You know exactly who the competition for it is, but you've got a great record and have always toed the company line. It comes down to you and one other person, and suddenly you're hearing from coworkers all sorts of nasty, vile rumors that this person has spread about you in order to get you to drop your bid for the job you've been preparing for your whole career. As it becomes more evident that this person is willing to say anything to get this job, you hold your ground and try to take the high road. But in order to really fulfill this job, you're going to have to work with this person and all the people who believe the lies. You could withdraw your bid, since working with this person is likely going to be unpleasant; or you could keep going after this job and hope that this person's lack of character will become evident. What do you do?
If you've been following politics in the last year, you know that these are real-life examples of what's happened to Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, and Nikki Haley. Rush Limbaugh said something the other day that really resonated with me: "What if it was you? What if you had all these things said about you?" Most of us have a hard time dealing with our reputation being torn to pieces. Now imagine the sort of things I've described happening on a national level. Your every decision is being analyzed and ripped to shreds. Your family is getting dragged through the mud. Smears threaten to paralyze you.
Now, one might say that this is par for the course in today's political scene. What else do you expect in our 24/7 media-drenched society, where with the touch of a button, you can find out anything you want about someone?
The problem with that assumption is two-fold: Your life gets ripped to shreds only if you are a conservative, and in the case of these women, most of the fire is coming from their side.
So what do you do when the mud starts to fly? You do what these ladies are doing: You reload. You don't have to stoop to their level. Just arm yourself with the facts, and keep shooting. Even if these ladies never win an election, I won't forget the way they kept fighting.

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