Last week, I wrote about how I was able to convince a prosecuting attorney to agree to reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor for a client who had been accused of committing a serious crime. The attorney accused me of being a whiner when I refused to stop pushing him to work with me. In the end, I got what I wanted; he agreed to reduce the charge.
I had forgotten about the incident with the prosecuting attorney until I heard an audio recording of an interview with Donald Trump. The interview was conducted by Chris Cuomo and was posted on the CNN website. Here’s the exchange that took place between Cuomo and Trump:
CUOMO: Rich Lowry says that you’re the most fabulous whiner in the world. And you’ve shown that if you were to sit across from Putin, or Mexico, or the Middle East leaders, that as soon as they said something you didn’t like you would become a whiner and snipe-y, and you’d start attacking them as losers, and not get anything done. What do you say to that?
TRUMP: I am the most fabulous whiner. I do whine, because I want to win. I’m not
CUOMO: Are whiners winners?
TRUMP: — and I’m a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win, and I’m gonna win for the country and I’m gonna make our country great again.
CUOMO: How do you work with government?
TRUMP: Chris, I’ve been better at working with government.
CUOMO: You can’t just come back at everybody when they insult you!
TRUMP: Hey, Chris? I’m worth more than $10 billion!
If you’ve been paying any attention to Trump’s presidential campaign, you’ve probably noticed that he is a master at diffusing criticism and then turning the criticism to his advantage. He has two primary techniques that he uses to deal with criticism.
The first technique he uses to respond to criticism is that he immediately acknowledges that the critical comment is correct, and then he goes on to boldly and confidently proclaim that what he was criticized for is actually a great strength that can be used to his advantage and to the advantage of the American people.
The second technique he uses to respond to criticism is that he immediately declares that the person who criticized him is a loser. He then goes on to demean, intimidate, and slander the person who criticized him.
Trump used the first technique when Chris Cuomo called him a whiner. Trump immediately agreed that he’s a whiner and then proceeded to boldly and confidently declare that his whining has made him a winner. He then implied that it was his whining that helped make him a billionaire.
The interesting thing about the exchange between Cuomo and Trump was that Cuomo quoted Rich Lowry in an attempt to demean and intimidate Trump, but Trump turned the criticism around and used it against Cuomo.
When the prosecuting attorney called me a whiner, he was trying to do the same thing — demean and intimidate me — but I ignored his comment and continued to push forward.
One definition of the word “whiner” is: “To complain in an annoying way.” I wasn’t really complaining to the prosecuting attorney when I repeatedly tried to convince him to reduce the criminal charge that had been filed against my client. Instead, what I did was to relentlessly pick away at the prosecuting attorney and wear him down.
That’s what Trump has done all his life, and he has become a master at getting what he wants.
Do you remember our Lord’s parable of the widow and the unjust judge? Saint Luke wrote about it in his gospel:
And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8
Rich Lowry, Chris Cuomo, and the prosecuting attorney would have called the widow a whiner. Does our Lord want all of us to be whiners?
The most successful people I’ve met are what these men would call “whiners.” But in reality, they aren’t whiners. They get what they want because they keep pushing. They’re resilient. They’re relentless. They refuse to take no for an answer. They’re confident and bold. They never give up. They’re not afraid of criticism. In fact, they often view criticism as an attempt by others who are envious to keep them from accomplishing their goals.
Most made-from-scratch millionaires possess these traits. But they’re not the only ones. Pick out any saint and you will find that he or she possessed these same traits.
We can develop these traits to become wildly successful in the eyes of the world, or we can develop them to enjoy a comfortable level of success, while we focus most of our energy on using these traits to become saints.
In the eyes of God, the real winners choose to use these traits to become saints.