We are in the home stretch. In a matter of days, the elections will be done, the political banter will be over, and we can look forward to our morning newscasts being interrupted with the usual local car dealership ads rather than candidate mud-slinging. No matter how you feel about the impending elections – excited, anxious, or just plain sick of it, the one thing I think we can all recognize and appreciate is the impressive energy and drive the candidates have exhibited, especially in these last few weeks.
Candidates on all levels, local through national, have been in non-stop “Go” mode. Their travel schedules are horrendous, their public appearances have been constant, every word they speak and action they take has been scrutinized… and they at all times have to be “on.” Upbeat, positive, energetic, trying to say all the right things, while unfortunately at the same time trying to bash their opponents who are doing the exact same thing. It has to be exhausting.
I started thinking the other day about what if, in our real world, each of us every four years had to re-prove ourselves in order to keep our jobs? What if your employers told you that no matter how well or poorly you’ve done, you have to go through an arduous interview process and pitch yourself to them all over again …. And oh, by the way, they will have at least one other candidate for your position trying to convince them that they can do the job better than you.
Some of us who work on a contract basis, or commission-based system, already experience something like this. And certainly, with the economy of the past few years, we all know about instability. However, very few of us have to literally attempt to prove ourselves every four years by explaining what we’ve done that has been successful and what promises we will make for the future – on a level far greater than a typical annual review process. And can you imagine being the candidate who is trying to make promises about how you can do things better, when you’ve never held that position in the first place?
As a manager, part of me thinks it might not be an awful thing to require employees to prove their value every few years. Some of us, and I will include myself here, can get perhaps a bit complacent about our jobs, maybe a bit too comfortable, so a little feeling of competition might not be all bad… But to go to the level the political candidates must go? No thank you.
How you would pitch yourself? And how would you discredit your opponent without coming across as a b-tch? If you are in Retail, would you say “I sold 154 outfits to women and they looked beautiful, while my opponent can’t even dress herself well?” If you are a stay-at-home mom, would you say “I changed an average of 8 diapers a day, drove 300 miles a week as the family taxi service, managed the family finances and coordinated the extra-curricular activities for 5 people?” (Cue “I’m A Woman” music here). What would your schpeel be?
While I’ve been pondering this, I realized one other thing about the political candidates. In order to put up with this schedule, repeat their message over and over with unwavering enthusiasm, and give up sleep and time with family to prove themselves, they have to really, really, want the job. Do they ever have bad days when that passion weakens, and they think “this just isn’t worth it, I’m going to go flip burgers for a living”? Clearly, I have no desire to be in politics… but it amazes me that these folks work this hard to take on jobs that can be the most stressful, with the greatest level of risk and responsibility.
Do we all have that kind of drive for what WE do every day?