Over the course of human history, we’ve been under all types of political regimes. If we can focus on the rulers who did good in their terms and who were beacons of hope and inspiration, we can learn from politics and become stronger leaders in our own lives. (Estimated reading time: 5 minutes)
“Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business..”— Winston Churchill
Do you tend to view anything related to politics with suspicion?
You are not alone.
Most people perceive politics to be a dirty game, filled with corrupt and deceitful constituents, trying to wield power for their own benefit. A charade where the favored party wins because of the image they portray.
There are have been countless times in history when people were let down by leaders that they’d put their faith in. Think of dictators such as Hitler and Stalin and politicians such as Nixon and Gaddafi who misused their title and privileges to take advantage of their own people. Based on these poor examples, it’s easy to assume that the field of politics is corrupt.
But the reality is that the political platform is neutral in democratic nations. It’s the energy and persona of the elected individuals who influence the ethics and moral of their administration. Our governments are nothing but a representation of the collective values of the people who chose to put those front-runners into a position of power.
Once a newly elected leader comes into office, we get to see who they really are through their decisions and actions. I believe that being a leader in any capacity, be it in politics, business or in a community, is the ultimate test of character. With great power comes great responsibility and sometimes that power does tempt politicians to misuse it. A useful lesson to learn from politics.
In his book, The Soul of Leadership, author Deepak Chopra describes genuine leaders as those who have the ability to connect to their soul profile and their core values. It’s from this state of inquiry that they’ll be able to channel the vital qualities of a leader, such as creativity, intelligence, organizing power and love.
Over the course of our history, we have seen many benevolent rulers, presidents and political pioneers who demonstrated an elevated form of leadership. Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, was also an ardent human rights activist who fought against apartheid and segregation and succeeded.
Mahatma Gandhi, who led India’s fight for freedom against British rule through the use of non-violent protests, inspired similar movements in support of freedom and rights all over the world. When we learn about leaders like like him we gain a lot when we learn from politics.
Other examples of leaders who exemplified soulful leadership include Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt. They weren’t just politicians – they were heroic activists who deeply cared for their people, by using their voice and influence to serve a higher purpose.
These exceptional individuals drew their strength from a rooted place, grounded in a compelling vision for the future. Each one of them demonstrated that one person can be a force for good in the political domain if they use the power and platform it provides wisely.
Here are five major life lessons we can learn from politics:
1. Have a clear identity and value system: Whenever you think about prominent leaders who’ve blazed a trail, you instantaneously get a clear sense of what they stood for. Freedom. Justice. Equality. Fairness. Progress. Peace. Or a combo of those and others. If you would like to have an impact on others, you too need to have clarity on the things that are most important to you and have the courage to express it through your words and actions. Your value system is like a compass that can give you guidance when making critical life decisions. Without knowing our values, we would feel lost, and we’d choose a path that won’t fulfill us. Others will perceive us as being mixed up, wishy-washy and lacking in individuality.
2. Champion and support causes that you believe in: Having a strong framework of your personal ethics will fuel your efforts towards supporting causes that are close to your heart. If you’re an animal lover, you can spend time volunteering at animal shelters. If children’s education is important to you, you can take a few months off to teach kids in Cambodia. Feel compassion for the homeless? Collect clothes and food to donate to homeless institutions.
The idea is for you to walk your talk just as great politicians did. And you don’t have to go on hunger strikes like Gandhi often did – remember that a little goes a long way!
3. Build win-win alliances: No one can get to the top and stay there without a strong network of friends, supporters and team members – a vital lesson to learn from politics. Leaders of every sort have an entourage of loyal supporters who lend them advice, resources and encouragement. They built this strong network because of their magnetism, outstanding people skills and emotional intelligence. If you can find ways to tap into your unique strengths to seek out strategic win-win alliances and beneficial relationships, you’ll have the power to accomplish almost anything that you set your heart on.
4. Be transparent and honest: Great politicians all have one thing in common: they are honest and open about their intentions, and they follow through with consistent action. In other words, what you see is what you get. They realize that although trust is hard to earn, it is very easy to lose and therefore, place high value on integrity and speaking the truth. We can strive to embody these qualities in our dealings with others. It may not always be easy to do and fear might tempt us to embellish our words but if we want to be respected and trusted by others transparency is a must.
5. Don’t pay attention to the haters: Too many political pioneers were defamed, hurt and even killed because they had the audacity to follow their often controversial convictions. They knew that trying to please their adversaries were futile and it goes against what they stood for. When you demonstrate the courage to express your true self and do what you’re called to do, there will inevitably be people around you who either disapprove or don’t agree with your stance. Some may try to belittle you with harsh words and others might sabotage your efforts through sinister means. You need to build a psychological fortress around you by leveraging your team of supporters, and focusing on your vision for a better tomorrow.
It’s only when we have well-informed minds, open hearts and valiant spirits will we have the competence to become leaders in our own lives, and also be able to choose benevolent leaders who have the capacity to exalt a nation, and the rest of world. Om this way, we can learn from politics.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What are the key lessons that you can learn from politics and your favorite political heroes?
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