Whether starting a business or building your career, most likely you are going to have to start from the bottom and work your way up. Obama is a man who has worked his way up by optimizing his resources.
I'm not going to give you the history of all his accomplishments because you can read it right here.
Obama ran a fantastic campaign that put him in a position to win. He is a black man running in an industry dominated by white men. Nothing was handed to him. He made the best of what he had and now he's the President of the United States.
1. Don't be Reactionary
Obama understood the message that he wanted to send and kept delivering it every step of his campaign. McCain attacked Obama to try to gain lost ground. McCain attacked his character, religion, and love for America. Obama stuck to his message of change. I'm not saying he didn't cave and attack McCain's ties to big oil, but this didn't last long. He showed the public that McCain wasn't perfect, but then went right back to delivering a positive message.
Obama could have attacked McCain's age and his lack of control, but he chose to talk about the issues. This showed that he had the awareness to not get dragged down by other people's tactics.
People at our jobs may say bad things about us when they are jealous, afraid or bored. It has happened to me and I'm really a nice guy - most of the time. When we get sucked into office politics, sometimes we lose control of how we want to create our career. The best thing we can do is trust our gut and do what is best for ourselves.
2. Stick to Your Beliefs
Obama could have wavered on taxing the rich or wanting to give healthcare to everyone (now we'll see how true he is to his word), but he stuck to what he thought was right. When you have as many people whispering in your ear as Obama you'll find it tough to stick to your beliefs. I know that when I have too many people telling me what to do it actually locks up my decision making ability.
Side note: This is actually a weakness and strength of mine. I waver easily because I can usually see other people's point of view. I'm learning to take people's opinions into consideration, but not let them dictate my choices. I'm the youngest child and most of the time youngest children tend to be too empathetic towards other people's ideas. Knowing this about myself has forced me to strengthen my own beliefs and learn to stick with them.
You must have a solid understanding of what you want out of a situation. You must listen to that little voice inside your head and make the best choice. The book, E-myth Revisited, discusses the importance of aim. If you know what you are trying to achieve then you'll exponentially increase your odds of success. Read the Mens With Pens review of the E-myth Revisited.
3. Family is More Important Than Anything Else
Grandma was a vital influence throughout Obama's life. He took time in a crucial part of his campaign to be with the woman who has helped mold him into a strong leader. He could have justified that she was older and the campaign was more important, but he didn't. He flew all the way to Hawaii to be with her.
Family and friends should be put ahead of our careers. It's these people who have supported us through depressions, conflicts and pain. Obama didn't stay with his Grandma until her last breath because he understood that he had to get back out on the campaign trail. He spent time with her, probably thanking her for all her love, then told her he was going to win the presidency.
You have to have balance between your career and family. If your child or parent needs you then put everything aside and help them. Then when you are ready to get back to work, go and do great things to help make this world a more prosperous place.
4. Sacrifice for the Good of the Whole
Obama didn't tell us what we all wanted to hear. He laid out his economic plan and stuck with it. He wants to raise taxes for people making more than $250,000.
McCain talked about lowering everyone's taxes, telling everyone what they wanted to hear. How can we lower everyone's taxes and pay off a $10,000,000,000,000 in debt? Most of you have or had debt at some point. You know that there is a price to pay when you owe someone else money - interest. Lots of interest. Just think of all the interest we are paying to other countries on 10 Trillion dollars. It's killing our economy.
Obama asked the American people to understand this concept and expect to give back through higher taxes. The rich have prospered from this country just as much as everyone else, so why not give back and help put this country back on its feet? Is it too much to ask for more taxes to help pay down our debt? I think not.
If you have kids then you understand the sacrifices a parent makes so his kid gets the best things in life. We need to sacrifice now so our children aren't saddled with debt that will wreck our country.
You need to sacrifice your time and money to get your dream career off the ground. If you need more knowledge to leverage your ability to earn more money then you must make sacrifices. That may mean not going out on weekends to create an at home business or going back to school to get a different degree. Whatever you need to do to make your future happiness a reality then sacrifice now and reap the rewards later.
5. Plan According to the Big Picture then Adjust
Obama was down in the polls against Clinton at the beginning of the Democratic primaries. He knew where to put his money and how to gain the confidence of the right leaders. He managed up. He won a few states and the tide kept rolling. He gained Oprah's endorsement and the endorsements kept coming in.
Then when campaigning against McCain he knew where the weak spots for McCain were and went to work. He knows his strengths. He is a great speaker and probably won thousands of votes every time he spoke. He was able to do this in states that previously always voted republican.
Obama is able to look at the big picture and plan accordingly. He knew that he would have more money coming in than McCain because he is excellent at raising funds for his campaign. He refused to take tax payers money which allowed him to raise as much money as he wanted (Yah! Money that goes towards real programs). He was able to outspend McCain in a lot of key states. This kind of strategic thinking is what all presidents should be great at. Strategic thinking is basically all they do while they are in office, so it looks like America made a solid choice.
You need to see your career as a link to a larger goal. When you gain the right endorsements from the right people within your organization then you have created stepping stones to move up. When you are in a position of power it's up to you to adjust your resources to get the most out of your people; planning and adjusting your tactics at every level will help anyone succeed.
6. Surround Yourself With Great People
Obama picked an intelligent Vice President who could help him solve issues in the White House. He also picked great people to run his campaign. They never forced him to be something he wasn't and they helped the "Obama train" get into the White House. You can't win a presidential election without great people around you.
The friends that you surround yourself with must be intelligent and kind, otherwise they will drag you down. I've made bad choices in the past when choosing my friends, but as I've developed I've learned to let bad friends go and bring in friends who will support my needs.
Side note: Most writers, like Stephen King, will swear up and down that they wouldn't be where they are without a great editor. An editor keeps the writer in check, but can also optimize his voice to get the message across to the reader.
The best way to improve your career is to associate with the right people. Business is not about who can do the work. Any rich man can hire someone to do work for them. Business is about surrounding yourself with great people who can do the stuff that you aren't so good at, so you can do the stuff that you are good at.
7. Never Listen to the Masses
If I were a betting man in the beginning of this election process I would never have thought that Obama would be in this position (President). He was way down in the polls against Clinton and running against a war hero, but Obama didn't listen to the naysayers. He trusted himself. He aimed high and won.
Your career is in your hands. Never once for any moment believe that life is all luck. You have to put yourself in a position to win. Obama could have lost, but he maximized his resources and got the job done. He was able to do this because he wasn't afraid.
You should never be afraid to shake hands with great people and try to get them to help you. If you believe in yourself so will they.
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