You dream of winning an election, but now isn’t the right time for you to run for office. In this video, 5 simple and strategic steps you can take in your spare time, so you are fully prepared to hit the ground running when the time is right for you to run.
Quite often I get calls from people who have political aspirations. Bright, passionate people who are called to serve, interested in advancing a cause or solving a problem. But for a variety of reasons, they are not quite ready to throw their hat in the ring and run for office. Maybe they have young children, or a demanding job, or they are starting a new business, or maybe they just graduated college and they are not quite ready to run, but plan to some day.
If you are in that category this video is for you. I am going to tell you what you must do to be fully prepared to run when the time is right for you to run for office.
And I’ll start with a hard truth. If you just plan on sitting around waiting on opportunity to someday come marching through your front door, you will never hold public office. You’ll be in that category of people who are always fixing to get ready to begin. People like that don’t win elections, they don’t change anything and seldom do they make a difference.
Meet Roger Bannister. He made history in 1954. The first man to ever run the four minute mile.
He didn’t wake up one day, jump into his tennis shoes and just do it. His preparation for the race began long before it started. The first thing he did is decide he really wanted to do it. Then he hired a coach. And the very first day the coach had him run in loose sand for four hours in blistering heat. When practice was over the coach said do you still want to do this? And Bannister said yes. The coach said good, Come back tomorrow. We’re going to do this again. The coach put him through the routine day after day, and month after month. Hours upon hours, day after day, month after month of grueling conditioning and preparation
When race day came, he made history, because he was fully prepared and ready to run.
People who are committed to a dream will do what it takes. So here is another hard truth. Politics is a very competitive business. Filled with people who are inherently ambitious.
Those who hold public office put in a lot of hard work to get there. Those who run for office and win elections begin preparing for the race long before it starts. Today I’ll tell you how they do it. And I’ll start with the consequences of not doing it, with a quote from Winston Churchill that I carry in my billfold:
“To each there comes a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared, or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
Here are 5 steps you must take, before you run for office, if you are serious about someday being that powerful elected official you hope to be.
1. Nourish your Body. Mind. Spirit. Why mention something so fundamental. Something that is simple common sense? Because many would-be candidates don’t.
If you eat a daily diet of junk, you will pay a price. If you don’t eat healthy and balanced meals, you will not have the stamina needed to properly train, let alone compete in a campaign. If you don’t exercise, you will easily fatigue. If you are overweight, now is a good time to get serious about getting yourself in shape.
Likewise, your mind is similar to your body, in this sense. If you feed it junk, you will spew junk. If you don’t feed it at all, you will never have anything interesting to say. Your mind works best when you feed it well. Don’t waste your time reading trash or what the haters spew on Facebook. Stay away from negative people who spew gossip. Read books that will nourish your mind and spirit. If you prefer videos, watch documentaries, history, biographies of great people, stories about great empires. Why they rose, why they fell.
Finally, acknowledge that you are a spiritual being. Humans are unique in the animal kingdom. We all have a spiritual component that needs to be nourished. I am not here to preach religion, except to say that if you do not nourish your spirit you will find yourself out of balance, and there is a price if that happens. When you meet someone who is cynical, impatient, selfish, greedy, someone who is a chronic complainer, it’s usually a sign that they are starving their spirit. People like that are not attractive, they are repulsive.
When you keep your body, mind and spirit in balance and good working order you will have more energy, you will sound and look more interesting, and you will naturally become magnetic.
And one last thing. Take some pride in the way you look when you are in public. It is hard for others to imagine you holding public office if you look like a slob.
2. Read. Books that inspire. Books that expose you to new ideas. Books about great leaders who advanced a worthy cause. People who led during tough times. People who made a difference. Books about leadership, character, integrity.
And make sure you spend time each and every day with some newspapers.
You need to be aware of what is going on in the world, and in politics. There are four publications you should peruse on line every day. Glance at the headlines in the The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico. Very little happens in Congress or the national dialogue that is not covered in these publications.
You also need to stay up to date on news in your own community…so you should read your local newspaper, local columnists and the prose of influential bloggers.
As you do, make note of issues and problems and challenges facing people in your community. Keep a list. Jot down your ideas of how you might fix them if you had the power to do it. Or initiatives you could take. Or wrongs you could right. Imagine what you might say if you were a candidate and asked by a reporter to make a comment.
If you are wondering why you need to do this, its pretty simple. It’s hard to run for office in your community if you are blissfully ignorant about what is going on in your community.
3). Get involved in your community. Find a service organization. Rotary. Lions Club, United Way, your local chamber of commerce. Or a church if you don’t already attend one. Volunteer for a soup kitchen, or the boys and girls club.
There is a good reason that goes beyond serving your community. You meet people. You expand your network. You make new friends. People that you can stay in touch with. Friendships you can nurture. People who become volunteers in your campaign, attend your announcement speech, contribute to your campaign because they know you and believe in you. People who will endorse you.
4). Put together a Brain Trust. Make a list of bright, passionate, energetic, people that you know in your community. If you don’t know anyone like that, it’s a sign that you need some new friends. And that you need to get more deeply involved with community organizations that allow you to rub shoulders with bright and influential people in your community.
Once you have a few who fit the bill, invite them to get together with you every month or two just to enjoy an evening and talk. About issues and problems and challenges of people in your community.
Tap their minds. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them how they might solve it. I once knew someone planning to run for office, and he had a ritual. Every month he would invite 10-12 people to his house for dinner. He was picky about who he invited. They had to be bright, well read, successful, creative, and passionate. His guest list included some people who were quite wealthy.
He did this over the course of two years. He learned a lot from what his guests had shared, which made him a better informed candidate, deeply familiar with issues affecting his community. He also became good friends with his dinner guests. He remembered their birthdays, the names of their spouses and children. All of them attended his announcement speech. Most of them contributed to his campaign. Many became volunteers. Nearly all enlisted their friends to help in his campaign.
5). Use your phone. Use it every day. I’ll explain this with a story. I’ve a friend who is a very good keynote speaker. He routinely makes $75,000 to deliver a one hour keynote. He is constantly booked. I once asked him his secret.
“I use my phone,” he said. “Every day I reach out to someone I know. Maybe someone who has hired me in the past. Or someone I’ve met, who might be in a position to hire me to speak to their employees in the future. We talk. I’ll ask them about the greatest challenges they are facing, and they’ll usually open up. I listen. If they mention a problem that I can help them solve, I let them know I have a keynote address that will help them solve their problem. That’s how I stay booked.”
Use the lesson of my friend. Do you stay in touch with people who could be helpful to you in your campaign? Friends from your childhood, friends from school, friends from college, people you have worked with in various jobs through the years, people you have met serving your community, clubs or organization you have joined.
If not, now would be a very good time to start. The more you stay in touch with people you’ve met, people who know and like you, the more likely it is that they will become a volunteer or contributor to your campaign.
Like the athlete who ran the four minute mile, If you do these things, you will be prepared to seize the opportunity to run for office when they time is right for you.
If you don’t do these things, you’ll never be in a position to hit the ground running. Worse, you’ll start your campaign way behind the competitors who did do it while you were fixing to get ready to begin.
We’ve started a new Facebook Group for candidates who are running this year or plan to soon. It’s a place where you can get help with your campaign, get quick answers to any question you have so you can win an election and advance a worthy cause.
Come Join the Discussion
Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
How to win an election:
Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.