Lincoln Memorial

Flattened By An Opponent

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Take a Stand:

Sometimes we take a stand on an issue or try something new, and we find that we are “flattened by an opponent.” It could be a race we lose to a better-prepared athlete or a debate we lose. Or, it could be a “sale” we lose, or it could be a political primary where sixteen potential candidates are flattened by a highly unlikely opponent (that’s as far as I’m going with the political angle!). The question is, how do we respond? Do we learn? Do we grow from the experience, or do we make excuses? Worse yet, do we decide not to compete again or “take another stand” because it’s too painful?

“If you stand up and be counted, from time to time, you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.”
— Thomas Watson, Jr.
Lincoln Memorial


This thought, not allowing conformity to keep us down, is what’s behind so much of the conversation around “disruptive technology,” our ever-changing business models, and our unpredictable global economy. For a while, there seemed to be an insatiable yearning for “the good old days,” when shoppers snapped up our product off the shelves, and consumers would buy whether they could afford to or not. And what happened to the times when 90% of all employees worked for a boss? Now, independent contractors complete more than 30% of all work. But it seems that now these ruminations are simply a trip down memory lane. There is no longer a serious thought that we can go back (okay, one more political comment — many are saying that a wish to go back to the 1950s is what’s driving the success of that “unlikely opponent” I mentioned above. Maybe so.)

I think it is human nature to want things to “be good and remain good.” Alas, the universe has other ideas. I believe the universe is indifferent to whether we live or die, and it certainly isn’t worried about if we’re happy with the status quo or concerned about things changing. So, we have a choice. We can choose resilience in the face of continuous change, or we can opt for conformity and defeat.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” — Abraham Lincoln


Those who will lead their organizations to success will not settle for conforming. They will create the future they want. They will take a stand for new ideas–for totally new approaches, and they will not stay down if/when knocked down by an opponent. Those who will survive and live in the future will not think outside the box. They will come to realize that there is no box.

Format update 9/24/2019