A lot of Americans were overwhelmed with the emotion of shock when Donald Trump suggested injecting disinfectant to protect the body from coronavirus. Though a striking example, it is not the first time the president used shock, albeit unwittingly, at the podium. Bill Stierle and Tom encourage us not to take the bait. The president floats marketing ideas, even though those ideas may not necessarily be the truth. So hijacked are the Americans’ emotions that Bill and Tom see a future wherein the next president will be faced with the challenge of regaining trust in the office as a public servant.
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Truth And The Emotion Of Shock – Don’t Take The Bait
Bill, just when I can’t be shocked anymore. You and I, we talk about this. We have a plan for these. We have subjects we line up in a Google Doc to prepare and we have these ones we’ve had for a long time. We keep pushing down the list because something new happens that’s even more shocking, noteworthy and in need of discussion. It boggles my mind sometimes.
It’s important to understand, Tom, the relationship between how truth gets purchased by generating the feeling of shock. The feeling of shock is a protective emotion inside the body. Shock is utilized to cause attention as well as protection. I see a car accident or hear a car accident, my body will go into a state of shock. You’re outside your house and you live in a calm area. If you hear a car backfires, doesn’t your body tense up? You go like, “Where is that? What is that?” Shock as emotion gets to hijack truth because the mind is wired to overprotect. Our bodies are over-engaged in the process of looking for danger. The challenge though, when you hear it from the podium of a press conference, then what happens is shock is utilized not necessarily on purpose by the President.
Many times, as a marketing and promotion person, he is used to spitballing crazy ideas with a team of people looking to get crazy ideas out into the market in order to sell real estate. It’s real estate. Come on now. It’s a room. Is Trump Tower the best tower ever in New York? Arguably, no, it’s not the best. There are nicer places. I’ve stated a few. The feeling of shock is a tough emotion for us as human being’s design because when it’s aligned with a traumatic experience, if somebody sees a car accident or somebody sees a car accident where someone has died. The body needs to process that over the field of time. It becomes an indelible mark inside our long-term memory. Like it did inside my mind, it will show back up in my body. I literally transported years within the moment of talking about where’s the memory? It was at night. All of a sudden, we hear sirens outside my office building. I come down the office building with a friend of mine.
Him and I walk out to the street and sure enough, a homeless person who was walking across the street got hit by a car and died right there. My body transported that because the feeling of shock didn’t want to process all that at that moment and feel sad or horrified about it. It wasn’t a person I know, but it was still humanity, which I am. I’m an animal like she was. My life has a depth to it, like all of ours do, and we don’t want to process it. We don’t want to do it. We stick it in long-term memory. All of a sudden when a discussion about shock comes up, it says, “Remember this moment you haven’t fully processed yet about your own death? It’s coming on your shoulder.” When the President says a statement that is shocking and surprising to us as human beings, we struggle. We can’t help but take the bait. Even people say, “Is that possible? If I get disinfected on the inside, will that protect me?” That person’s not stupid anymore.
From what perspective though?
From the perspective of safety and protection. They’re going after a need and they’re listening to somebody they respect. He doesn’t see that he has that power. You can’t spitball a creative idea to create a shock or a way to solve this problem from outside of the box situation. This is why we don’t have creative presidents. They don’t necessarily do what’s best. This is why the government is not built around change. Entrepreneurialism is built around change and the government should or it works best when it supports competitive entrepreneurialism. It doesn’t work best when the biggest person gets to gobble everything up. It doesn’t work best there. It works best when you foster these innovations.The government works best when it fosters innovations. Click To Tweet
It also works well if there’s any brainstorming about what can be done. That’s done in closed doors. It’s not done from the podium.
You pick your best 2 or 3 talking points to come out on the stage. This is why President George W. Bush could run a “semi-successful” presidency for two terms. Why was he able to run it for two terms? All that spitball and all of that creativity, he’s more the mouthpiece than he is the person that is pulling decision. It’s Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld making the decisions and others that are crafting the message, picking the thing and trying to fly their agenda under the radar of the American public, which they did successfully. It’s successful how they were able to run their agenda underneath the radar of the media, under the radar of government and be able to hijack the voter. They did a great job.
They did with somebody who, if let to speak freely from the podium, might not have been incredibly different from the current occupant of the White House in some ways. Not in some of the needs that President Donald Trump has. I do think that George W. Bush had this style that was casual and there are a lot of things he might’ve wanted to say, but he was more disciplined though not to say those things.
He grew up in a family of public servants. Even though his grandfather was an oil guy, I believe, and they’re an oil family, but they made a shift to public service and they spent time doing what they thought was best for the public. We don’t have that guy now.
We don’t. We don’t have a public servant. We have a self-servant, among other things.
He meets his need for acknowledgment and recognition at the expense of truth. He does. He’d rather get acknowledged and recognition and be in front instead of truth and very difficult. We’re getting close to 60,000 people that have passed now. When we get to 100,000, he will start praising himself. He’ll say the following sentence to meet his need for acknowledgment and recognition. “We’re glad that we’re at the low end of the estimate because it was initially predicted that 100,000 to 250,000 people would pass. Look at how good we did. We only kept it to 100,000.” That’s exactly the message.
It will get over 100,000. At this time, people forget, as some of the states are starting to open up, it’s not like all the cases have happened and all the deaths have happened. It’s maybe gone over the peak of the curve and starting to trend down, which means easily a good half of the people that are going to die have not died yet.
Tom, this experience human beings have with our emotions getting hijacked and it’s hijacked because the brain wants protection. The one way that it gets protection is creating a form of truth perspective that causes a protective thought. What happens is that I am going to believe this person because I have extended trust to this person. I’m not skeptical about him because he told me that he’d done these great things. I see him as a great person. I don’t see this other person is a great person. It’s like comparing Ronald Reagan to Jimmy Carter. I don’t see this person. One person is a great person, one person is not a great person. I could think many people would say Ronald Reagan was smarter than Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan could never be a captain of a nuclear submarine like Jimmy Carter was. He was a captain of a nuclear submarine. You’ve got to be smart to do that. You’ve got to know everything. Ronald Reagan running that ship? No. Ronald Reagan being a spokesman-style president, he could do that. Smart? No. I’m not giving it to you. No way in comparison. A public servant? Jimmy Carter is the public servant.
He’s certainly proven that in spades post-president. He served as president, but he can continue to live a life of service, Habitat for Humanity, and all that.
It’s important to watch how the emotion of shock for reporters and the public not to take the bait and name it. We feel shocked. It doesn’t meet the need for protection to do what the President recommended. It’s not safe to do what the idea that President floated. Start calling the President an idea generator. Do not start calling him that. This is the type of President that we have. He floats marketing ideas. It’s not fully true. We keep calling him a liar, but he’s floating marketing ideas. This is the type of leader we have, somebody that floats marketing ideas. It’s not the strongest public servant we have, but it’s the one that he has sold to the American public and they voted for him. Notice that wakes up the voter that voted for him. I voted for a marketing guy. I voted for an ad guy. I voted for a promoter. I voted for a salesman. That’s what I voted for.
They tend to think they’ve voted for somebody who’s going to change things in Washington, originally, drain the swamp, whatever. He’s changed things in Washington, that’s for sure. Regrettably, it’s not always for the better because here’s the thing. He doesn’t understand the consequences that can happen when he speaks from that podium and he says, “Disinfected on the inside of the body. That that would help things.” The doctor doesn’t immediately say, “Sir, it won’t. Please don’t do that.” The doctor is squirming in their chair and trying not to contradict the President. Since we’ve seen that, the calls into poison control lines have spiked because some people believe they should go and take action on what the President said. That’s scary.
Notice the need for safety for the person that’s calling in, the need for protection for the person that’s calling in. They don’t want to get this bad thing. Tom, what you pointed out there is when the medical expert is asked a question that is far from the truth and it doesn’t meet the need for safety and protection inside her own mind, she felt shocked and she shut down. Her best response to him is saying, “Interesting idea, Mr. President. It doesn’t meet the need for safety and protection. Regrettably, that may cause more harm and damage to a person because our bodies are too sensitive for the process you mentioned. The truth and the recommendation that we’re putting forth at this time is safety and protection can be met by staying home.” Done, but she doesn’t have access to my skills. He’s checked out. The news people are swimming in, “Look at the shocking thing he said.” Their bodies are filled with doubt, skepticism, shock, overwhelm.We don’t have a public servant in the White House right now. We have a self-servant. Click To Tweet
Some of them are completely speechless. They couldn’t even do a follow-up question that had any strength to it. He tried to pivot in the middle of the thing. You hear it on the tape. That’s what the emotion of shock does. It shuts off your ability to speak. It shuts off the ability to hear. Like that poor woman that crossed the street, that homeless person that got hit by a car, it’s the same experience of shock. It’s a shocking thing. It grabs our emotions as the human body and we can’t speak. Let me say it this way. The logic and the rational part of our brain goes offline when the limbic part of the brain tries to protect us, to put it into physiology. It shuts us off and the truth gets hijacked. Trust gets run over by a truck. The next president has to do so much work to restore trust and regarding being a public servant.
It sets up the next president for probable failure on a lot of levels of certain things that aren’t going to get progress or attention because of the need to restore that trust, to have a reconciliation. That’s unfortunate.
If Joe Biden and his team are reading now and maybe we should tag Joe Biden here because his team needs to hear what’s so important moving forward. It’s like the first thing that needs to be launched is a truth and reconciliation tour made up of a bipartisan group of respected Republicans and Democrats, not the ones that have fought the battle for truth. The ones that are more above the fray, that are interested in public service and restoring public trust as a public servant and what governments are. The ones that are more in alignment with what it takes to get the public to move in a direction for the best interest of America. This truth and reconciliation tour, this public service and government tour and it’s got to be marketed well about what does it take to get people to look at America and restore respect and recognition with our good deeds and the might that America can generate.
There’s a lot of wealth in America. It will take less than four years to restore it. The wealth has to show up to do it. The best and the brightest has got to go, “Everybody, here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s how we’re going to restore trust in government. This is what we’re going to do to roll up our sleeves to do this.” Get the people on both sides of the aisle that can stay above the fray. Regrettably, it’s a little thin for certain people on the Republican side of the fence to show up there, but there’s a wonderful group with what’s called The Lincoln Project, the former Republican people that are bound together to work to move past Trumpism and get back to Republicanism. There’s a group of people. I like all of them. All of the great, respectful, steely-eyed Republicans going like, “We’ve got to handle some of these things. The Republican party went in the wrong direction and we got hijacked.”
I want to look up The Lincoln Project. Apparently, it’s dedicated Americans protecting democracy. It seems that George Conway is involved in this, who is Kellyanne Conway’s husband, and he’s a good example. George Conway, Reed Galen and Jennifer Horn. Steve Schmidt. He’s a good guy. He was the Campaign Manager for John McCain both times he was running for President.
Steve Schmidt’s podcast is good too. He’s doing the same thing you and I are doing on the other side, but also, I’ve listened to three of his things and I haven’t even thought about that. Even looking over his stuff, I’m feeling a general sense of confidence that he and I are close on how we talk about truth and how we can have a safe discussion about truth. Even though we have some different views or ideas about how to get to those things, it would be a vibrant discussion to have him in the mix.
I don’t know all those people on The Lincoln Project. I know who some of them are for sure. Those that I know definitely put country over party and they’ve demonstrated that by speaking out against the President because Donald Trump is not in alignment with their vision for America. I respect them all very much for speaking their mind. That would be an incredible discussion. I would love to be in the room for that if it ever happened. That’d be fantastic. You’re right though, that people that they have a common vision for America moving forward. It’s interesting. John McCain at the time when he ran against George W. Bush the first time in 2000, admittedly at the time I was thinking, “I’m probably more in Al Gore’s camp and going to vote for Al Gore.”
John McCain made me think. If John McCain had gotten that nomination over George W. Bush, that would have been a tougher vote decision for me. I did see John McCain at that time in 2000 and later against Barack Obama, he had to move to the right in order to get the nomination. I still respected John McCain his whole career, but I don’t know. I would not have voted for him in 2008, but in 2000, I considered that. The Maverick, the guy who’s the straight talk express. There’s a lot there that was respectful and I continued to respect him in his last months in the Senate as he voted to protect the Affordable Care Act and didn’t toe the party line.
That vote, I respected him about. I appreciated that. I wish he would have voted against himself regarding the tax break. If he had done that, I would have seen the public servant in him come out. He didn’t make that choice though due to various pressures and things like that from those around him, but I respect him for protecting a lot of Americans with that social service choice. That’s important.
There is hope for America and the restoration.
There is hope. A lot of times we leave with a screeching halt. We come to it as like, “Now what?” This particular discussion about dealing with the emotion of shock, notice you and I are not shocked or feeling as outraged about the President’s disinfecting comment. Notice shock is gone and we’re staring it down to like, “That’s what he did and that’s who he is.” It doesn’t meet the need for truth and it was not a well-placed moment. People are going to be ruminating about this. Think about how long this is going to last. Months all the way up to the election.
The memes are not going to go away above people injecting disinfectant. They’re all over the internet. No one is going to forget this.We can move past the feeling of shock and restore truth and trust. Click To Tweet
Inside the Donald Trump voter, they’re going like, “We voted for the crazy guy because we’re the crazy guy.” It is an identity piece now for them. Look at the next outrageous thing he’s going to do. He did it on his reality shows. He does it in his private life, looking for opportunities to market and promote, say a crazy off the wall thing or look at a distressed property and take it over and turn it into a golf course. That’s what he’s done. Take advantage of beautiful places and put one of his properties there. “This is a wonderful facility.” It’s challenging how truth is. Notice how it’s a little flattened, a little disheartening all of a sudden since I brought it back around to there. Our emotions go up and down like a roller coaster, but we can restore these things. We can restore truth and trust. We can move past the feeling of shock that our nation has been through. We can move past the shock. South Africa did it with apartheid. We must certainly do it with this traumatic page in our history. It was a lot shorter if we get on it if we’re up to it.
People need to get out and vote. Hopefully, they’re not too afraid to leave their homes to vote or voting is going to be maybe easier. These are some interesting subjects maybe for a future discussion.
Tom, the thing to take away here is that the feeling of shock, you can stare down, but you’ve got to also be ready with your own trigger points of protection, safety, truth and trust being pushed all at the same time. If they’re all pushed at the same time, the shock has got to show up as an emotion. Shock, doubt, skepticism, horrified. All the reporters in that room, when he went into this monologue were doing this.
There was definitely a chin drop moment.
They don’t know where to go because they don’t know what keywords to talk off of. The keywords were protection and safety. “Mr. President, I’m feeling doubtful and skeptical about safety and protection. Could you tell me a little bit about how the body might react to what you’re recommending? Are you recommending this?” Let him walk on the plank a little bit more. He started walking on the plank and asked her to pull him back. Her jaw was dropped too.
Nobody was equipped at that moment to try to course-correct where that ship was steering. It wasn’t going to happen.
I’ll be a reporter. “Mr. President, you’re doing the best you can and come up with ideas because you want to fight for the virus. Is that correct?” “Yes.” “You have the thought that disinfectant inside the body might be a good idea. Is that what your thought is?” He has to say yes. He can’t backtrack. Now he can’t say it was sarcastic. Now he can’t say false media. He’s going like, “I’m coming up with ideas here.” “You don’t want to take it verbatim. You want to leave that up to the doctors, is that correct?” “Yes.” “Doctor, could you tell us if that would be safe or the body would be protected if we did that?” “No, we can’t do that.”
The President wouldn’t like that because it would contradict him, but the first part, I like where you were going there because it makes it clear and the President won’t be able to spin his way out of it. He wouldn’t know what happened before he agreed to those questions. Can we get some skills?
People have got to get some skills. Tom, this has been great. Thank you to our audience for reading. It’s a delight to have you on our journey.