It should be no different for political candidates or those who seek to initiate a public policy change.
Pilots are also required to file a flight plan, to know the limitations of their aircraft, the current weather conditions and to abide by a myriad of rules and regulations.
Too many political candidates hit the ground running without taking the time to perform a basic pre-flight checklist. These folks usually crash and burn.
If you want to improve the odds for a smooth flight and a succesful landing at your intended destination, don’t skip over the checklist process.
READY TO FLY?
Your taxes went up. They didn’t fix the pothole on your street. The Legislature just passed a crazy law. Washington DC seems broken.
Or maybe you just always dreamed of being in the thick of the political ring.
STEP ONE: Go/No Go?
Regardless of your motivation, do yourself (and the rest of us ) a favor before you take out your nomination papers. Go to a quiet place by yourself, and ask yourself one simple question. Be painstakingly honest with your response.
ARE YOU RUNNING TO DO SOMETHING or ARE YOU RUNNING TO BE SOMETHING?
If you want to DO something, proceed to STEP 2. If you want to BE something, stop here because you might possibly win an election.
Trust me when I tell you that being a public servant (and the campaign to get there) will take a major toll on your family, your finances, your career and all the other things that are important to you. . . like sleep. The pay is generally lousy, the hours are long, and it is a sure-fire way to make new enemies. Being an elected official is also the epitome of thankless jobs. There are certainly easier ways to improve your self-esteem.
STEP TWO: Know your aircraft
Ok, so you consider yourself ready to lead. Now go back and look at your answer from STEP ONE. What is it that you want to do? Describe your goal with no more than three-short bullet points. This abbreviated set of talking points will serve as the foundation for the house you are building.
STEP THREE: Be prepared and watch for storms
Know the terrain and pay attention to the weather patterns. If you’re planning to run for city council, you should be regularly attending those meetings for at least six months before you decide you can do a better job. Look at past election results. Talk to lots of different people, and stay up-to-date with the issues. Be aware of your surroundings as if your life depends on it . . . because it does.
STEP FOUR: Follow the directions of the air traffic controller
You need some help. An attorney who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Talk to a seasoned pro who can help navigate the tricky waters ahead. Preferably, this person is not a friend, family member or co-worker. Choose someone with proven experience. Choose someone you can trust. Choose someone who will not be afraid to tell you the things you don’t want to hear.
Of course, there are many more steps you will need to take on the way to your victory. But now – – – with your pre-flight checklist completed — you are in a much better position to enjoy a smooth flight.
I invite you to discuss this subject and other Pro Tips with me: Contact
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Randy Seaver is a former newspaper editor, and today works as a professional strategic communications consultant. He specializes in organizing and coordinating political campaigns on the local state and federal level.
He has successfully served as communications director on a wide variety of statewide referendum questions, grassroots organizing for federal policy campaigns and running the campaigns for local candidates and referendums in his hometown.
He and his wife, Laura, live in Biddeford, Maine and have two sons