Today for the first time in almost a year, the Jerry Sandusky story has slipped from the headlines. Because I have the name Gerry Sandusky, over the past year I’ve been called everything from a molester to a monster to a rapist. I’ve been invited to rot in hell, suffer torture, and die a slow, painful death. My children have faced ridicule; my wife has faced mockery. None of us are related to Jerry Sandusky, the convicted child molester.
I point this out because this experience has tutored me in dealing with impossible situations that I have no control over. While you may never face a situation quite like this one (believe me, I hope you don’t), you or your company will almost certainly at some point face an unfair, impossible situation that puts your good name in jeopardy.
Here are twenty lessons I’ve learned from handling large, impossible situations that you may find helpful too:
1. Don’t run; don’t hide. You can’t.
2. Like it or not, you now have a platform. Use it for good.
3. Don’t try to fight a tidal wave. Ride it. You’re first task is to survive.
4. Don’t react to ignorance, hatred, or meanness.
5. Saying “Thank you,” always has more power than saying “%$#& you”
6. Be aggressive on social media, but maintain your poise
7. Take the high road. If nothing else you will show some people that a high road exists.
8. Accept all interview requests. Those people will help you get your truth out to the public.
9. You can’t change or control the world before you change and control yourself. Start with yourself.
10. Pray for the people who have suffered more than you. Their wounds are deeper than yours and your prayers can help them.
11. Remember, it’s temporary. No one lives forever on this planet, so their problems–and yours–have a shelf-life too.
12. When it’s appropriate, laugh. Everyone’s laughing behind your back. You might as well have a little fun too.
13. Be a winner, not a whiner. Don’t waste time whining about “why me.” The world has enough whiners. It never has enough winners.
14. Learn and draw strength from the examples of others. Ghandi, Alfred Nobel, Hellen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless others all stood up to injustice, misfortune, or bad circumstances and changed the world for the better. You can too.
15. Hating is always about the haters. It’s not about you.
16. Lean on your own life experience. When I was 17, my older brother Joe died. I have thought of Joe often over the past year and smiled, thinking I’ve survived one of the worst things life could throw at me and I did it one day at a time without having all the answers. It also reminded me that I didn’t need all the answers to handle this situation too.
17. Your problem is visible. Most people’s aren’t. Make your courage, patience, and poise visible too and you will help someone who has much bigger problems believe they can weather their storm too. Guaranteed.
18. Talk to your kids often. They hurt too and they hurt for you. Show them you’re okay, and you’ll help them be okay too.
19. Never fight fire with fire. No stupid, ignorant, mean-spirited, or hate-filled person ever chose to change because someone called them stupid, ignorant, mean-spirited, or hate-filled.
20. Remember that those who came before you left you with a good name. Commit to doing the same for those who will come after you.