“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.
There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.
Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Several people have asked if I will ever lighten up on President Trump.
Here’s the deal.
Yes. I am a harsh critic of Donald J Trump.
However … almost all my criticism & critique is done from a business perspective and not a personal perspective.
I do not know the man so commenting on him personally would seem silly.
But I do know business.
I do know some of the better senior business people.
I do know what good leadership and leading looks like.
I also know what business principles would be transferable to attempting to be a president <in a political system versus a “CEO” business system> and I know that I do not know shit about politics <but from afar I can see the maddening aspects and have no desire to work within the system>.
I do know that I am a harsh critic of myself … I am self-proclaimed perpetually dissatisfied business person.
I do know I am not a big self-promoter, tend to dislike extreme self-promoters and I value confidence … but quite confidence.
And that leads to my criticisms of Trump.
First and foremost Trump falls squarely in my criticism cross hairs. As the graph to the right indicates when someone is in the asshat space I will be harshly critical.
I would note that I assume everyone makes mistakes so if you view this chart as “emphasis of my criticism depending on where you fall on this chart” my level of criticism will naturally dial up based upon the behavior of the participant and not their actual actions <this can translate into some minor criticism even if something is done right and harsh criticism when a mistake is made>.
My second basis of criticism falls on progressive scale. The higher the responsibility the higher the expectations <of what you should know, how you should behave and what you actually do> and, ultimately, the higher the volume of criticism for less-than-appropriate behavior. Correspondingly, the lower the responsibility, the lower the expectation and … well … yeah … you get it … my level of criticism diminishes.
What does all of that mean?
I think we are all much more forgiving of someone who shows some humility and accepts responsibility and admits mistakes and is confident without being overbearing. And the more someone doesn’t show those characteristics the more likely our pendulum of criticism will swing toward … well … highly critical.
I heard someone say “Trump could enact a miracle and some people will criticize him.”
That is not true.
It approaches Trump criticism from the wrong perspective in that it ignores the context that HE creates. I would be happy to not criticize him and I even have edged into giving him some credit on occasion.
But I do so hesitantly.
And I think many others are hesitant for the same reason.
Just as he has a tendency to exaggerate … well … everything … he makes it difficult to compliment him. There is no counterbalance and our fear , at least mine, is that giving credit seems to take on an exponentially exaggerated level with him. And I seriously doubt that giving him credit will be thanked by offering up some humility or admitting some past mistakes.
Therefore, just as it is with the guy in your office who wants to take credit for shit he has never done and believes that people don’t give him enough credit in general or don’t recognize how smart/talented he is … they absorb credit and compliments as “it is about time” or “what took you so long to see what I have been telling you” rather than “thanks.”
These kinds of people are hard to give credit to. And, in fact, these kinds of people almost make us NOT want to give them credit for anything <and , if we do, it tends to be muted>.
Does that mean my criticism is too harsh? Shit. I don’t know.
I don’t think so.
Harsh, in my eyes, would be if he was actually a business guy who was implementing solid business principles and I ignored that and simply was harshly criticizing some of the ‘art’ aspects of business <and not the ‘science’ part>.
But Trump is implementing none of the ‘science.’ In addition, he is the Dolph Lundgren of the artistic portion of business. He has no ‘feel’ for business just one speed and one style and one way of doing things.
And that is the basis for my constant Trump critiques — he is failing to meet what I would consider the basic business leadership standards of … well … even a higher middle manager type leader in a larger organization.
To be clear.
I am careful about how I criticize anyone in any position. While Trump is most likely not familiar with Plato, Plato offers us some guidelines with regard to how to evaluate a business person beyond simple evaluation of what they do:
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”
Behavior, business included, flows from these three things. It isn’t ‘good business instincts’ or ‘deal making skills’ or … well … any of the things Trump flippantly tosses around with regard to what he believes <and he constantly suggests we all know this about him> is his incredible business skill.
And while I could take a stab at critiquing Donald J Trump on what his desire is <psychologically and tangibly> and I may be able to take a stab at what his emotional drivers are … I most typically do not. My critical evaluation mostly resides on ‘knowledge.’
His business knowledge and how he uses it.
All that said.
Sometimes I use some harsh words.
I have called him batshit crazy <hyperbole>.
I have called him a clown <he does portray some circus performer aspects on occasion>.
I have called him an idiot <misuse of a word to highlight what is actually ‘oblivious behavior’>.
Does that make my criticism too harsh? No. But what it may do is add unnecessary color to what should be a black & white issue.
Black & white?
As one article summarized it perfectly — Trump is simply a profoundly mediocre person tragically unfit for the presidency.
Criticizing chaos, or less than competent leadership behavior, or even less-than-principled foundational business acumen is simply pointing out unnecessary turmoil – or a situation which is at war with itself.
Maybe one should view my writings and critiques as the writings of a wartime journalist recording the battles, generals and strategies.
Maybe I should think of myself that way with Trump. Why? I want peace. I don’t want this turmoil. It is tiring and mostly unnecessary. And any viable sane business person who has ever held any significant responsibility knows that this is mostly unnecessary turmoil.
That said. I will continue with criticism … as harsh as is necessary … because I seek peace <because I believe America deserves it and not this shit>.
Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them
I opened with the Emerson quote, purposefully, for two reasons.
The first was what I just pointed out. I am a business guy and I recognize that not only is chaos & turmoil bad in business it is, more often than not, unnecessary and a reflection of poor leadership. While I may be a small voice in the grander scheme of things I will continue to use my voice to criticize with an objective of ‘peace’ instead of what we currently face.
My second reason resides in listening to the critics. Emerson is absolutely correct in that if you listen to critics and criticism too much you can very easily lose sight of what is truly important. Someone will always tell you what you have done wrong and what you are doing wrong. However. Not even listening to critics, simply ignoring their thoughts as irrelevant is the path of fools. Good leaders sift through the criticism for the valuable grains of truth. And while Trump clearly listens, obsessively I may add, he does not ‘hear.’ And, yes, there is a difference between listening and hearing <by the way … I wish media would point that out to Trump surrogate who incessantly claim Trump is a good listener>. Trump listens to criticism and finds ways to ignore the truths in any way he can.
That said … the conclusion to that thought isn’t “you are wasting your time criticizing” but rather ‘ongoing criticism enable enablers to corral bad behavior.’ Ignoring incompetence or poor decision making or even misguided organizational development steps is not an option.
Criticism offers opportunities for course correction.
What that means is I will continue to criticize, harshly when appropriate, until the country is on a course … any course <because , in business, you learn that there is no one course just a choice among courses>. And I will criticize until he actually starts acting like all the other CEOs I have ever met, because, once again, this is not how good CEOs behave.
I continue to suggest everyone who desires to know how professional foreign affairs and intelligence people and military assess the Trump administration and Trump behavior should visit www.warontherocks.com . My favorite author just delivered a blistering commentary, criticism, of Trump called “The Incompetence Doctrine” … a must read for everyone.