False accusations and gossip can destroy lives, even if the accused is innocent. If your reputation is under attack it can really devastate you. A long time ago a buddy of mine told me told me that most of the most serious mistakes I would make in life would be bad ego decisions and I have found that to be true. I have made quite a few bad ego decisions with corporate magic, money and women; a few even put me in some sort of physical danger. A healthy ego is important and it’s the reason why many of us performers get up on stage in the first place, but there are times when a big ego doesn’t serve you. One such place is when you’re wrongly accused of something. We’ve all had that experience at some time in our lives haven’t we?
This recently happened to me and it was not a pleasant experience as you might guess. I was returning to the cruise ship from a few hours in port when an overzealous hotel manager took it upon herself to, in essence, “rip me a new one” for being “the last to return to the ship.” Even though my wife and I returned well within the specified time posted, she wrongly felt the need to berate us publicly and say she “didn’t appreciate us being the last passengers to return” and that “the ship wanted to leave an hour ago!” When I explained that we were back BEFORE the posted time her response was “Don’t even go there!” There were so many things that I wanted to say to her. “Do you think I’m psychic?” was one. I retorted with a snappy, “This is ridiculous,” and walked away. There’s no need to go into any more detail. But it started me thinking about all the other times that had happened in my life. The surprising thing was how many times it did. I’m writing about them because it releases me a little bit.
Each name that comes up could be a blog in itself (come to think of it, blogging about them might be good therapy). From Mrs. Maggie in nursery school to Mrs. Harrington in the fourth grade to Mrs. George, Rich Brady, Jan Jones, Piet Paulo, David Taylor, Greg Maretzky, Ron Nomura, Tony Clark, The Principal at the science show, Larry the SPM, and most recently this hotel manager, there was that same feeling in the pit of my stomach of injustice–so palpable you can taste it. Have you ever felt that? The important thing to remember through it all is outcome. What do you want the outcome to be? Once you know that it brings everything into sharp focus.
You can’t control what happens to you in life but you do have control over your response to it. See my blog It Takes A Brain To Use A Brain to see just how much control you have. What outcome did I want from this incident? Quite simply, I wanted magic. I wanted this person to disappear, so that I could continue performing my shows, enjoying the ship’s ports and not be verbally abused by a power hungry underling in deck shoes ever again. How did I accomplish this? I decided to lay low, because I’m concerned. Not physically scared (this hotel manager isn’t very threatening), but concerned that I had better get back on top of my game mentally to be more prepared to deal with these kinds of situations in the future.
Here are ten tips on how to think about being falsely accused:
1. Accept that there is no way you can erase what has happened. Even though the accusation may be unfair and untrue, the situation is real. You need to get out of denial about that in order to deal with it in the here and now.
2. Watch your language. If you keep saying this is “terrible” and your life is “ruined,” you add to the stress. Remember my blog on using your brain? Put things in perspective. An innocent child in a burn unit of a hospital is terrible, not your ego being crushed. Change your internal dialogue, and you will feel better.
3. You make your own experience. The first person you’ve got to repair your reputation with is you. Are you a bad person? Probably not. Stop feeling guilty and being angry with yourself. Own your mistakes, forgive yourself for them but don’t continue to beat yourself up. Life is not a “success-only” journey.
4. Ask yourself what outcome you want. Is there anything that anyone–” the authorities, your co-workers or someone in the community”–can do that could ever make the situation better? Begin with your inner circle. Start rebuilding your reputation with your family, close friends and neighbors. Make sure they know the truth. From there it will “ripple” out to the world.
5. Understand that people might come forward to admit they were wrong. And they might not. It is up to you to put this behind you. Say to yourself, “I know I didn’t do this.”
6. Teach people how to treat you. If you walk into the world, and you’re hanging your head, and you kind of don’t want to look anybody in the eye, and you’re shameful, then people will treat you that way. You’ve got to decide “I did not do this. I am innocent. I’ve owned my bad decision, which comes with being young, and I am not going to hang my head in shame.”
7. Don’t try to address every accusation. If you decide to start defending yourself, that will become your full-time job! If you answer every story, every piece of gossip, every allegation in your life, that’s all you will ever do.
8. Stop reacting to the rumors. You give them legs by reacting to them. Don’t draw attention to yourself defending the rumor. Give yourself permission to just live your life.
9. Stand up for yourself and say, “I’m taking my power back. I’m not going to give them the power to pick my feelings. They’re wrong and I can look myself in the mirror knowing the truth.” You have to decide that you believe in who you are, what you stand for.
- Know that it’s normal to feel a twinge of guilt even if you’re completely innocent. We always hear about guilt by association, but there is also guilt by accusation. People hear something negative and tend to believe it. If you accuse a person unfairly, s/he still has that twinge just from having the finger pointed at him/her.
Now, here’s the big difference between people who make it in any field and those who do not: awareness. Many people walk around with their heads in the sand. They go whichever way the current of the streams of their world happens to push them. You’ll recall from my blog The Institutional Mindset, that “head in the sand” is a bad way to be in a place like prison. You can’t sulk in prison. You can’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. What you must be is alert, on top of things, and ready at any time to “catch a break.”
I play Baccarat, as you Alexandrites who follow my blogs know. And no other casino game is more about catching a break than Baccarat. When the cards are good, you’ve really got to double and down, and when they’re bad, you’ve got to really hold back. The shoe is like The Terminator and doesn’t care what decisions players make. But if you play enough baccarat, sooner or later, after thousands of hands, everybody in the game will more or less have been dealt the same amount of good cards, bad hands, and mediocre hands. What determines the winners? It’s how they play the cards that were dealt them.
I want to be ready, and that requires being alert and at the top of my game. What I intend to do is fall back and regroup.
I am, for a little while, going to try to avoid (as far as possible) my fellow cruisers. I am also going to try not to “emerge” until I have pumped a little mental iron. I think had I been “pumped” this incident wouldn’t have happened. I think this for two reasons:
1) I would have been more alert and never did the things that perpetuated these incidents.
2) And secondly, when I am “pumped” and on top of things, people react differently to me because I send out different “vibes.”
So, how does all this relate to success in corporate entertainment? At the time in my life when I was making the most money, I followed the same procedure I am talking about here. Namely, I paid attention to myself and when I was off my game. So my resolve now is to “go underground” and quietly strengthen myself. I’ve really got to do it. I’ve got to transcend myself by making a game of becoming an expert at quietly diffusing explosive situations and sending out stronger vibes so I have fewer (or maybe none) of these negative encounters to begin with. I hope you do the same.