The Epiphany of Humility

June 11th, 2016

hqdefaultThere are exceptions to every rule, but virtually every candidate who ever runs for office at any level, arrives at a moment in the campaign when she/he realizes that the campaign is not about her/him, but about the people who support it, and those who need what it promises to do for them.

It is, put briefly, the epiphany of humility.

Some candidates begin their campaigns with that apprehension. Like Paul the Apostle, they are zealous advocates of their causes who often come across as angry and even a little bit crazy, and they almost always lose. Recent examples include Ralph Nader, Ron Paul and Howard Dean.

Some candidates don’t get it until the last minute. Think of Robert Redford’s character in the 1972 classic who turns to his consultant on a victorious election night and asks, “What do we do now?”

For most candidates, however, the moment arrives somewhere around mid-campaign, when momentum is gathering and whole groups of people never seen or heard from before start to attach themselves to the campaign – and the candidate.

Because a person cannot possibly run for office unless she/he has a well-developed ego, some candidates in that moment understandably develop rock-star syndrome, which often leads to disgrace or defeat – or both. Others are intimidated by it to the point of decompensation, with similar results.

Successful candidates embrace the epiphany, and the degree to which they succeed is proportionate. They work hard to achieve and sustain the balance between ego and humility, usually with encouragement and coaching, often from professionals. It is not easy to do that, but it is necessary for victory. And it enables them to admit mistakes and apologize for them so that they can move on.

As noted, there are exceptions to every rule, so there are a few candidates who never experience the epiphany of humility. Richard Nixon was one.

Donald Trump is another.

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