Maybe Politicians Can Teach Us Something

In case you haven’t noticed, the presidential race has started.  Iowa is done, and New Hampshire is on deck.  It’s going to be fast and furious from here on out.  First let me say, this is not a political commentary.  But it’s interesting to think about what factors make for a successful presidential campaign.  Though at times it may seem like it, these folks don’t get elected by accident.  There’s a lot that goes into a successful campaign.  There are a lot of similarities, I think, between a successful political campaign and a successful “life” campaign.

While I’m not a political junkie, it seems to me that some of the key elements to the more successful campaigns include:

• Passion
• Determination
• Organization
• Flexibility
• Money

Passion:   Ya gotta want it.  Nobody can run for President who doesn’t really want it.  The time, effort, and scrutiny would be unbearable for anyone half-heartedly in it.  Financial success benefits from passion, too.  To live below your means, put money away, and take care of what you’ve saved takes motivation.  Those who seem most motivated almost always have a passion driving it. It might be doing something for others (philanthropy), life experiences (travel), or just living worry-free. They have something which inspires them on their journey through life.  

Determination:  While similar to passion, I don’t see them as the same thing.  Candidates can really want the office they’re running for, but sooner or later things go south.  They say something wrong, or they don’t do as well as expected in a debate or primary.  Fundraising drops off, and it’s worry-time.  The truly determined ones get back out there and work to overcome the setback.  Financially, it’s the same.  The Great Recession of 2009 knocked a lot of people down.  Some stayed down- staying in cash until this very day.  Others hung in there, kept pushing and came out OK on the other end.  They’re doing the same thing now.  They are determined to realize their passion.

Organization:   Successful campaigns are highly organized.  They have long tentacles out to the voters, but the message and action are coordinated.  It was interesting looking at the Iowa caucus results.  The campaigns deemed to have strong organizations seemed to win precincts all over Iowa, while the others gained most of their support in isolated areas.  To achieve the big goal, you need to be organized.  Being clear on your goals and knowing what it’ll take to achieve them is paramount.  Knowing where and how your money is invested is important.  Having the right type and amounts of insurance will help in bad times.  A cohesive plan is the best path to the prize.  

Flexibility:   Politicians are nothing if not flexible.  I know, some say too much so.  But in a campaign things change.  Didn’t win Iowa when you planned to; you may need to adjust your strategy.   Didn’t raise as much money as you expected; change the ad campaign.  We all need to be flexible.  Bad things happen- job loss, health crisis, or an investing miscalculation.  Good things can too- an unexpected job opportunity, an inheritance you never saw coming or even picking the next Apple or Google- early.  Any of these things will change what you can do and how you can do them.  To enjoy- or survive- the unexpected, you need to be flexible.

Money:   Yeah- it takes awful lot of money to become President.  But just about every politician starts out their political career with an empty account.  Over time, they build the pot.  If they don’t, they won’t achieve their goals.  Money is the tool that lets them achieve their dream.  It’s the same for you and me and our finances.  Most of us start with an empty account- but over time with passion, determination, organization and flexibility we build that pot so that eventually we can realize our goals- our dreams.  It’s a tool, not a means unto itself.  Just as a successful candidate fills their coffers for future campaigns, we save, invest, buy insurance, and manage our careers- all for our future.  

The drive for political office eludes me.  It’s not my passion.  But we all have passions that drive us.  Maybe, just maybe, we can learn something from the political circus that is a presidential race that might help us realize our passions- even if it isn’t political office.

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