There probably is no better way to show a leader’s competence than when they are handling a crisis. If they fail at it, then doubt and skepticism arise among the people, causing truth and trust to become casualties. Bill Stierle and Tom address the elephant in the room that has greatly displayed what the leaders in our country are capable of—the current Coronavirus Pandemic. Amidst it all, they examine how truth has been constantly hijacked by those in power and, in turn, how people react in relation to that.
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Hijacking Truth In This Time Of The Coronavirus Pandemic
Bill, we should address the elephant in the room or maybe the virus in the room as a case because that is what’s on everybody’s minds.
Tom, when a health crisis or pandemic like this shows up in our world, it affects a certain group of needs inside the reader. If the speaker does not do a good job, what happens is two emotions show up that mess truth. The two emotions are doubt and skepticism because those two emotions are custom-designed inside the human body. Those molecules of emotion to tell us and tell us our body about when we feel doubtful, our need for truth isn’t met. When we feel skeptical, our need for trust isn’t met. Truth and trust become casualties. If the messenger isn’t aware that that’s what’s taking place because truth and trust have a direct wire to the need for certainty. The need for protection, the need for safety. All of a sudden, you get those five things. The truth can be hijacked and moved around easily and then the person believes the wrong thing. They need relief from doubt and skepticism. They would rather blame, judge, criticize somebody rather than face that this person that’s messaging is hijacking them. We have a lot of problems that we can talk about here in this place.
We do have a lot of problems. There’s not just doubt and skepticism, there’s the need for safety. There’s a need for certainty that I’m not going to get ill or that my family is going to be safe. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. There’s been a run on staples at places like Costco and Sam’s Club for things. Even including toilet paper, which is interesting. First, hand sanitizer was gone from all the shelves everywhere. It’s moved into, “We need to have a two-week supply of food at the house.” I have other concerns too. I would say as a business person economically as to what’s happening because I see the fear causing more potential damage than the virus itself.
I’m glad you mentioned fear because it’s anxious that the sequence of future-oriented thinking, when human beings start to think about the future, it’s worried, anxious, nervous, scared. See how it’s going up? When I start thinking about the future of an unknown thing, it’s worried, anxious, nervous, scared, fearful, terrified. When you get somebody in fearful and terrified, they start to click to the beliefs that they’ve already established in their brain and then they don’t move off that belief. Even though the person can help them, they can’t move off of the belief. What that means then for the President is that the belief structure has been hijacked with the dopamine boasting that they’ve done over time called this is fake news. Therefore, the need for trust can only be met in one location. All there has to be is one message and the person has to include that into their belief structure and not question the truth of that. The Democrats caused the coronavirus to bring down Donald Trump’s presidency and for somebody to hold that belief solid, it’s a head-shaker because it’s a worldwide thing.
It is shocking, Bill, and I want to emphasize and make it clear for our readers here. Bill didn’t make that one up as an example of a belief somebody could have. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a real thing that’s happened. I saw the article and video of Donald Trump supporters being asked a question at a Donald Trump rally about the virus. They said, “They believe that the coronavirus is a hoax that was started by the Democrats to take down Donald Trump.” That’s through the looking glass to me. I’m like, “Are you kidding me?”
A belief or a bias or a fallacy that a person has isn’t a wrong thing as much. As it satisfies certainty, I don’t have to rethink something once I believe something. If I believe something, I don’t have to rethink it. I don’t have to make my brain deal with the gray areas of being an adult. All I’ve got to do is put my elbow on a belief and go like, “The world is this way. This is the way the world was. My mom and dad said it this way. This the way we think in our city. This is the way our state is. This is the way Republicans think.” Do it on the other side. This is the way Democrats think. The challenge is adult thinking has got to be one that tolerates the gray areas that don’t know things and is okay with that.
Instead of if I don’t know something, I feel here comes worried, anxious, nervous, scared, fearful, terrified. If I don’t know something, I can move up the scale. All I’ve got to do is say a well-placed dopamine-laden sentence. Imagine what it would be like if your neighbor had flown through Hong Kong and then you shook their hand but because the Chinese didn’t disclose it, therefore you might have the virus. It’s tough because the mind looks to overprotect. It looks for safety narratives first. A safety narrative is, “I need food for two weeks.” A safety narrative is, “I want my stuff. I’m going to pay for my stuff. Where’s my stuff? It’s in the store. It’s not in my cabinet. They might not let us out.”
Look what China is doing. China is getting the people to stay in. That’s what they’re doing. What happens if the United States does that? There are all kinds of problems for us in the United States to go that way. First off, the National Guard would need to be somewhere between 2 to 4 times bigger. I don’t know if that’s true, but I am making something up. The military would need to get engaged. There are plenty of military folks that can lockdown streets. Are we going there? Americans are not used to losing freedoms like that.
Italy is the second-biggest country impacted by the virus and they made the decision. They’ve declared their entire country a hot zone for the coronavirus and they have ordered all of their citizens to stay home. Let’s talk about bringing life to a screeching halt. To me, that is scarier than anything else. The economic impact is going to be immeasurable if we do this and some of my biases and beliefs probably are going to come out here as we talk about this.
That’s the way it works. That’s what makes this conversation interesting. That’s what makes Purchasing Truth interesting is because our biases get to come out and get it to be explored, not to be marginalized. You get to look at your navel and get the lint out of it. If you want to have a funny metaphor for what a bias is, “It happens to be lint in your navel.” Dig it out of there, call it a day, and wash your navel. You have a clean navel. That bias and that belief have got to change. It cannot stay stable because you’ve got to move it. It’s trying to put technology back into a box and control that. You aren’t doing it. It’s not going. Technology changes. There’s going to be a new iPhone whether you like it or not.
For me, from my perspective as a business person who travels a lot and goes to conferences and things like this, I’m saying, “They canceled South by Southwest. That’s 400,000 people and $1.6 billion of lost economic revenue for the city of Austin, Texas and all the related businesses there.” That doesn’t even include airlines and things like that. It is unbelievable. I was at a conference that had sold 1,900 paid tickets. I was the sponsor of the event. I had a booth there to engage with people and a little over 1,000 showed up mostly because of the fear of the virus. I’m like, “Wow.” My attitude has been, “The virus is out there. It is serious.” Everybody needs to take personal hygiene more seriously. Wash your hands a lot and if you’re sick, be wise and don’t travel. We can’t as a country, as people, cocoon ourselves away and take a break from life and hope this thing goes away. I’ve never been a believer that hope is a good strategy for anything.
It’s personal responsibility, take action, “We need to keep doing business.” I also have done a little research and found that children by and large are not getting this virus. It’s a much bigger impact on aging populations and people that already have other health conditions and may be compromised immune systems certainly understand that. We even have family travel plans for a personal family event. It’s a friend’s bar mitzvah and going back to New York for that. A bunch of us were having a text saying, “Are you all still going to go?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m still going to go. I’m planning on going unless they shut the airlines down and don’t let us go. Why wouldn’t we go?” There’s a great debate happening of the family who is throwing this bar mitzvah party wondering should they call it off?
The sequence is worried, anxious, nervous, scared, fearful, terrified. There are six words in there. All these are called future-oriented emotions. I am worried because of something in the future, I’m anxious about something in the future. Some emotions tell us that we’re having thoughts about the past. Helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed, depressed are things and thoughts that are coming from the past. The accumulation of those thoughts activates the depression part of it and there’s a chemistry that goes with it and there are medications for it. There are medications for the emotion, not for the thought structure. You’re medicating the cell instead of cleaning out the thought closet.
With this narrative, the other 5, 6 words on the other side, you would like certainty. You need some trust. We’re waiting to see here the truth about this virus. Do you see what happens? We want to be safe. We would like to connect, but those four other needs are in the way of us connecting. Anytime you’re in the debate, start bringing out your needs words and say, “What would certainty look like to you? What would trust look like to you? What would safety look like to you? What would reassurance look like to you?” There’s another need there. The other person and the family member that’s listening, we’ll start backing off their emotions and move back into the rational mind and go like, “Safety would look like us watching the numbers up to the date and if we can’t get safety, we don’t go in the last minute.” That’s a good way to think about safety.When we feel doubtful, our need for truth isn't met. When we feel skeptical, our need for trust isn't met. Click To Tweet
In other words, let the answer come to you because you don’t need anxious, worried, nervous or scared for a month. You don’t need any of those chemicals until the day off and said you’re watching it that you’re stabilizing your thought in the face of what’s being reported. It doesn’t help if you get countering messages, which is a little bit of the trouble we’re doing is it doesn’t look like that there are any adults in charge. The problem is an adult is somebody that calms a child’s mind about something they’re fearful about in the future. That’s what an adult mind does. Tom, you and I have both said things to our children that we wish we didn’t tell them. It was beyond their ability to comprehend, their ability to process fully, the ability to discuss like an adult and their poor little black and white mind went, “That means that.” They made up an entire meaning about it and you’re like, “I can’t believe I walked into that bear trap.”
I hate self-inflicted ones like that, but it’s what’s happening. We’ve got these interesting and opposing forces going on where you have the 24-hour news media cycle that is trying to make everything more sensational. They need fuel to fill their 24 hours of airtime and they kept putting a bigger microscope on any little aspect of this and proportionalizing it to be big, which I feel is not helpful. You’ve got the President on the other hand who is trying to market his way out of this crisis with his salesmanship and no facts. Often, what he says is not in alignment with the truth. Neither one of those things is helpful. It feeds into the doubt and skepticism of the American people, does it not?
It does. It feeds into the doubt and skepticism, which allows him to keep his and even gain some people that, “I don’t have truth and trust.” They don’t say this logically. I feel doubtful and skeptical. Maybe I don’t want to vote for someone new. Maybe I want to take the person that’s already there, especially if he gets to play the, “I told you so,” card.
Did it go away on its own?
It went away because well-meaning people down the line took all these preventative measures and because we took all these preventative measures that went away, we met the need for safety, we met the need for protection. You don’t want your Commander in Chief telling everybody things are okay too soon. An adult mind lets the facts play in a way that gives the adult nation something to follow. The child messaging of, “I’m the daddy in charge. Believe me.” “Dad, you are.”
What do you make of the fact that the President put Mike Pence in the video “in charge” of the coronavirus and responsible for the administration? If he’s the daddy in charge and he wants to be the hero, would he do that?
Putting him in charge gives him a lot of covers because one of the things that Mike Pence has been good at is reducing the wreckage that he does on his side. He’s the codependent parent that says, “Don’t look over there. That’s your father. Your father had a little too much to drink. Your father still loves you. Your father is a good person.” It’s a pleasure working with him because he’s a good person. It’s like, “Who are we talking about here? Whose evidence are you picking to call him a good person?” He said he was going to fight for the farmers. That makes them a good person because you’re a farmer. It’s like, “Is that happening?” The thing that the child does, even in an abusive household, is look up at the parent and saying, “There must be something that I did that was wrong for me to get beaten like this.” There must be something that this is the way that dads connect to their daughters.
If you want to get everybody to squeemle a little bit on the thing, it’s the worst belief sentence ever. Regrettably, the way the brain works is it fabricates something to make this person that we’ve invested in already still good, right, holy, righteous. They’re still invested in that mindset. It’s difficult because being hijacked in that direction and sunk costs. We’ve created the need for value. We voted for this person. This person made us feel good because we liked watching him when he was on that Apprentice show when he fired people because he looked like the serious father that I never got to see at the office. This is what my dad must’ve done there. This is the way my dad was. He was like, “I’m in charge,” kind of a guy and he reminds me of my dad.
I was wondering if putting Mike Pence in charge gives the President an off-ramp, a scapegoat in the future if it doesn’t go well because I still think the President is likely to dump Mike Pence and try to insert Nikki Haley as a VP candidate to try to win over women. It is either he’s going to be stuck with Mike Pence because he does a great job here. I don’t see that happening because the President will take credit for anything Mike Pence does.
Here’s a good Purchasing Truth moment. Mike Pence walks into the rat trap easily. It’s crazy. What are some steps you’re doing to prevent the virus? He goes, “We’re going to make the test available for people to come in and do the survey.” Next question, will insurance pay for the test? “Yes, insurances will pay for these things.” He’s saying it apprehensively, but he’s still saying yes. The next question is, what about the uninsured? How are they going to be covered? All of a sudden, he is on the plank. Immediately, he and the team start walking. All the Americans that are not insured, how are they going to know or not know whether or not they have the virus or not? Wouldn’t that prevent the spread if they know so that we can contain it? How’s that going to be paid for? If I were on the Bernie Sanders campaign, that loop would be made into a commercial and start pounding Donald Trump and Mike Pence about universal healthcare.
Did those questions get asked of them? I didn’t see that.
It’s out there. It’s the video out there. It is the ultimate viral video for Medicare for all. Everyone gets tested. Nobody pays and change the tax laws to cover that. It is the winning formula. Even if Joe Biden gets there, they could still use it. Although he has a unique challenge on his side. He doesn’t want to break the machine of insurance either. He’s a little weaker there. Bernie Sanders could take Mike Pence’s, Donald Trump’s, and the system’s legs out because the insurance company is not helping the nation. The system doesn’t help us. The system does not protect us.
He would make it more about all the issues. You’d hit all the hot buttons of safety and certainty and you’d hit everybody’s need of the greater good that, if we’re going to stop the virus, we have to treat everyone. We can’t just treat the ones that can pay for it.
If you think about how unconscious they are because the first thing I would’ve done as an adult if I were them, they still could do it and save their butts.
Do you mean the administration?
The administration and the insurance company. The insurance companies and the big pharma, they’re asleep at the wheel here because what they needed to say as a part of their narrative to meet the need for certainty and trust is saying, “We do not want to get caught in that question. They should have ponied up to pay for a test for every American.” All of these tests will be paid and they needed to put it in the bill and they needed to pay for it. This is funny for me even to say it. Would it have been their insurance policy to keep the status of medical insurance, the healthcare industry complex in place? They blew it.We have to choose to change our habits to deal with the certainty that has changed. Click To Tweet
When you think about it, it would have been a brilliant strategy because an insurance company could come out and say, “We will pay for tests for everyone that comes to us that needs a test,” because there aren’t even enough tests. They wouldn’t have paid anything because there’s no test to pay for. That would shine a light more on the industry producing the tests and are unable to produce enough quantity of tests. They take the focus off of it. Insurance isn’t the problem. That’d be brilliant. If you listen to the President, everybody who needs the test is going to get a test and it’s a beautiful test. Let me tell you as if it matters if a test is pretty looking.
That’s a child distraction and diversion tactic. That’s what a dad or a mom says, “It’s going to be beautiful when we get to Disneyland.” “I don’t want to go.” Meanwhile, the child doesn’t want to go to Disneyland because they’re missing their best friend’s birthday party. It doesn’t matter how good and beautiful it is. It’s like, “I’m scared to go because I’m going to lose connection.”
To throw one of my biases back in, my wife and I, we’ve been talking about, “Maybe we should go to Disneyland because there’s not going to be any lines. We can go on every ride in a day. We’d bring our PRL and wash our hands and protect ourselves. Fine, let’s go. There are fewer people, not tons of people.” Seriously, we’ve been having this conversation. If we get a discounted ticket at some point because they’re trying to get people to go. This is life according to Tom.
Your need for certainty, trust, and safety are higher because you’re concentrating on the 1%, 3%, 4% or whatever number you’re concentrating on is the low number. You’re concentrating on the 90% whatever that the likeliness of not getting it. That’s the good part about it is you’re concentrating on what the need is. What is the long-term impact of the coronavirus on someone’s health? If they do contract it, is it another virus that their immune system has built their immunity up above and it doesn’t affect anything else that happens for the rest of your life like every other pesky little virus that you’ve gotten including the immune shots?
If you get it and recover from it, you have the best immunity over any vaccine they will create a year from now or whatever. No question. Although I will admit I have never been a fan of taking a vacation on a cruise ship. I would not take the opportunity to go on a cruise ship. They are floating petri dishes and that was before coronavirus. That was with Norovirus. I didn’t think I was going to die on a cruise ship. I didn’t want to float around being sick and vomit for a week because of norovirus. That’s the last place I want to go on vacation. Take that for what it’s worth.
The belief around safety is valuable. The cruise industry and the travel industry has a bit of work to do regarding the clean ship, the clean cabin, the clean hotel room, the clean whatever bathrooms, things. There’s going to be this next upgrade, this next step of showing how clean the bathroom is, how clean whatever. There is a little bit of that edge that’s taking place. One of the things that I know as we’re talking about the truth and Purchasing Truth and the virus, it’s about how do we as human beings create not rose-colored glasses, but creating truth around what is our beliefs around safety and certainty? Tom, you both and I know that we’re on a planet and it could get hit by a comet and asteroid and there could be some problems that would come from that. That would cause a whole set of problems that would then come from that.
It will be too late before we get to the winter ski store to buy the ski jackets that we don’t have to endure a few more months as the temperature of the planet plummets. I’m making something up, but it’s too late before that takes place. Let alone, when we still have to be in those parkas. There’s no food around like, “At least we’ve got another few more months in,” whatever. Our brain tolerates that level of certainty. It tolerates that most likely in our lifetime we’re not going to see a catastrophic asteroid. Why? The last one ended the dinosaurs. That was catastrophic. Have there been other rocks that have been big that caused the problem? Yeah, there are. That’s one of the biggest challenges that we face as human beings are we still have to tolerate the fragile certainty that we create for ourselves. We pick whatever to create that certainty. If somebody had a traumatic experience, their certainty with that element is not true anymore.
They don’t have certainty that they can go to the bank because that one time when my mom got robbed at a bank in Florida. They have no certainty in that. We have to choose to change our habits to deal with the certainty that has changed. Tom, we could talk about how do we deal with these messages that come to us. How our brain has been hacked in a way with the small little micro messages that then get hijacked, whether it’s a bias or fallacy, and how to work to shift those. It’s like what we’re doing on this show. We’re trying to get people to settle on what does safety looks like for me? What does certainty look like for me and the face of the virus? We’re looking to reestablish that and how to talk to our kids about what safety and certainty look like.
That’s coming up too, isn’t it? The kids are asking questions.
They are. My son was like, “Can we get tested?”
Thanks, Bill. That was great. I enjoyed that and I look forward to next time.
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