Politics and Your Personal Success and Growth

Some of my closest friends are left-of-center. Others are to the right. I love all of them, and I never judge the value of a relationship by a person’s politics. In fact, I tend to like people with different perspectives, especially ones with which I disagree. I have found that other perspectives improve my own and increase my tendency towards compassion.

In every election, half of the population will be unhappy with the outcome. But let’s consider a different kind of politics: the politics of success. I have chosen a side that I encourage you to join. These politics here require you to cast a ballot for yourself, very literally, and it’s the most important vote you will ever make.

The Politics of Growth

There are two positions you might take on your growth and development.

One side believes that someone else is responsible for their growth and development. People on this side go to school because it is required of them, and because the society in which they live strongly suggests they need a college diploma. Once they get the sheepskin, they believe their growth and development is complete, unless their company requires them to take some kind of training to improve their work performance.

People on the other side believe that they are responsible for their own growth and development. They believe that they have unlimited and untapped potential, if they can just gain the knowledge and the experience. To accelerate their growth, they read books, take courses, go to seminars, and even listen to podcasts that will provide them with new beliefs and new choices.

The Politics of Money

“Money can drive some people out of their minds.” —The O’Jays, “For the Love of Money”

Just about everybody wants more money—and the ones who have more invariably want more than the ones who have less—but people hold very different mindsets about wealth.

Those who have too little money want more, but they are not motivated by money. If they were, they would already have more of it! This group believes that money is difficult to acquire, and that their wealth is limited to what someone else is willing to pay them. I have a friend who had horrible beliefs about money and who described himself as a blue-collar guy, at least until he became an entrepreneur.

Conversely, those who value money, wealth, and security find ways to increase their income. One of the reasons so many successful people get their start in sales is because the variable compensation component in many sales roles lets them make more money through more effort. This group believes you are always going to be paid what you are worth, which is why they continue to grow over time.

The Politics of Relationships

Someone once said that you are the composite of two things: the books you read and the five people you spend the most time with. Or as Steven Tyler put it, when you’re sleeping with the dogs, you wake up with the fleas.

Some people surround themselves with people with low(er) standards. People with low standards will never expect any more of you than they expect of themselves. They are never going to challenge you, nor you them. In fact, when you raise your standards, they will attack you for changing your politics of success—they’ll say you think that you are better than them, that you are too good for them now. It never occurs to them that they would benefit tremendously from raising their own standards.

The other relationship mindset starts with the idea that you should spend time with people who are more successful than you are now, who have higher standards than yours, and who will expect more of you than you expect of yourself. This group continually increases their standards, creating an upward spiral of greater expectations for those around them. You want to find your way into the best circle available to you, then stay there until it no longer challenges you.

The Politics of Opportunity

“Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” —Matthew 13:12

Certain people believe that opportunities are a matter of good fortune or external circumstances. They are perpetually hopeful that, someday, maybe not today, they will get their lucky break. They do nothing to put themselves in the way of success, nor do they seek it out. Instead, they wait and hope and buy lottery tickets. Opportunities avoid people who are not already pursuing them.

The opposite approach is to actively seek out opportunities, even when you already have some (whoever has will be given more). Especially early in your career, don’t turn up your nose at small opportunities, or those that require greater effort for a return that isn’t quite in line with your effort. That effort will generate new opportunities, ones that require even greater effort and even greater rewards. You are not going to find if you are not seeking, and you are already surrounded by more opportunities than you can possibly imagine.

I am focused on the politics of doing good work and making a meaningful difference, something that doesn’t require me spending time with icky political types. You didn’t really expect me to write about partisan politics, did you? How dare you, Dear Reader!

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