I know, it’s not the most upbeat way to start out your campaign journey, but preparing yourself in the chance that you should lose your political race is quite possibly the most critical step in the early part of the process of running for office. So here are some thought jump-starters to help you come to terms with the idea that God may be calling you to lose this election…and that’s totally okay.
- You could be running to shine light on an important issue that’s currently in the dark. Palin’s VP candidacy forced Americans to think about pro-life issues in a whole new way. Between her daughter’s teen pregnancy and her own Down Syndrome baby, her run for the vice presidency really forced people to consider issues that, while they’ve been an undercurrent in today’s society, had never before held a national spotlight. Maybe there’s something about you, your family, or your platform that your community desperately needs to ponder, but until now they haven’t had the chance.
- Your campaign could be about forcing your opponent to deal with specific issues he would otherwise evade. I generally advise against focusing on your opponent instead of yourself in a campaign, but sometimes there are things that just can’t be left unsaid. Maybe it’s an incumbent flagrantly abusing his elected office, or maybe your opponent has a horrible voting record on a particular critical issue, like education, that must be brought to light. Even if you don’t win, your opponent will still have to deal with the public’s new awareness to such issues.
- You may be on the campaign trail to meet new people who will change the course of your life. Those people may have something to do with your political campaign, or not. They may take an active role in your world for many years to come, or may just be a blip on the radar. Maybe it’s campaign volunteer, or a prominent community leader who’s put their faith in your campaign, or someone who doesn’t even live in your district that read about you in the paper. Maybe it’s even just one brief conversation with someone whose name you won’t remember that changes you.
- Just like you may meet someone that changes your life on the road to elected office, you may also be the person who inspires others. Maybe you’ll never even know it. Or maybe thirty years from now you’ll be casting your own vote for the kid who filed papers in your campaign office after school twice a week. You just never know.
- Campaigns bring out the best and the worst in people, and you’ll be no exception. You may find that you learn something about yourself you never would have known without this experience, and hopefully it’s something that changes you for the better.
- Maybe you’re being tested. It happened to Job, right? I can’t find any real evidence that God actually puts people ‘to the test’ with overwhelming challenges just for the purpose of testing them, so likely there’s a deeper reason you’re being pushed to your limits. Figure out what it is, and deal with it appropriately. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…right?
- This is probably the only truly strategic reason it’s okay to lose that I have for you. Even if you don’t win a run for state representative, being in a higher profile race will increase your name recognition in case you choose to run for mayor or city council in an overlapping district next year. And taking a look at your election results will give you a good idea of where you actually won, and help you choose a district that better suits your political strengths for your next run.
- It could be you’re just not meant to win yet. I mean…Abraham Lincoln has an incredibly intriguing political history, full of wins, losses and lots of setbacks which led to him being president at exactly the time United States of America launched into full-blown crisis mode. Coincidence? I think not.
- Even in a losing campaign, you’ll gain real-world experience managing a team, running a ‘business,’ handling complicated finances, working with a variety of personalities–all skills that will come in handy in whatever career field your ‘real’ job is. Embrace those lessons and put them to good use.
Now don’t get me wrong–I don’t expect you to watch unfavorable election results rolling in with a big smile on your face or anything. It’s fine to be sad, to be disappointed in a loss. What’s not fine is letting it eat you up inside. If you are a person that struggles with rejection and failure, losing a political election–having the voting public essentially tell you they don’t want you–would be a devastating blow from which you may never fully recover. That’s why it is so incredibly important that you are sure you can handle losing should that be your fate.
So what does it mean to be prepared to lose? It means starting with the end in mind–and I don’t just mean the end of this election cycle. Make a promise to yourself to be true to your convictions, always to be mindful of how you affect others, and keep yourself open to new people and new ideas. Know that there are so many possible outcomes that are better than winning.