I wonder why all my jokes always turn into serious conversations.
I was joking around with my brothers the other day about a need for “president school” . In theory, it would be a school that prepared presidential candidates for the presidency. Every candidate would have to go through it to be able to accept their party’s nomination. Implications aside, it was a pretty funny conversation. Ideas of course topics stretched from diplomacy to family management. I could imagine it now….. presidential readiness certificate. We laughed about the prospect for a while but inherent in the conversation was where the knowledge to become president comes from. How do you gauge someone as a qualified candidate?
The presidency is a very complex place to start this conversation from. We shifted our focus from being the president to things that you can only learn how to do by doing or being. My brother started off with the most simple question. He asked me how I learned how to be an effective brother. I learned how to be a good brother by watching other brother relationships. I watched how my father interacted with my uncles and aunts, how my cousin’s interacted with their siblings, and watched how my friends interacted with their brothers and sisters. Secondly, I was in the place to be a brother for a long enough time that I learned what works and what doesn’t. The same goes for a father, mother, sister and brother. We learn from others but most of it is a work in progress. You can never really teach people how to be effective at something. You can only teach certain skills that will help people in these situations learn as fast as possible.
So if I’m picking a list of presidential list of guidelines that I have to draw from every candidate to decide whether they are capable or not:
(Note: These guidelines not exhaustive and don’t bear much weight independent of the list.)
- Previous experience in executive roles. Yes the presidency is unique in its challenges but the idea of being in command and responsible for an organization larger than yourself is a skill set that can only be taught by being in a role where it was required. Anything from being a general, governor, representative, senator, CEO, diplomat, or a mayor of a large city is valid. Generally, any where that required you to answer to a large group of people.
- Steep Learning Curve. A candidate must possess the ability to understand large amounts of information in a short amount of time and apply it to current problems. Presidents will face challenges for which they know nothing about. While its understood that you can’t know everything about everything, you have to make decisions like you do. (most of the time will you have the help of experts and others but it comes down to the president)
- Empathy and understanding. As president, you are required to manage relationships on multiple levels. (state to state, people to government, etc.) I’d like to know that you can manage these relationships effectively which will probably increase the success of your presidency. Some may say that looking into a presidential candidates life is out-of-bounds but it is important to see how they managed relationships.
- Approach life as a life long student. My uncle always use to tell me , ” A wise man thinks himself as a fool while a fool thinks himself a wise man.” Continue to learn and approach the presidency as a student on a scholarship that requires a 4.0 and your grades are checked daily. This is an outlook on life that you can tell whether someone has or not just by listening to them talk.
Okay, obviously I left some things out. Also, it is often difficult to display some of these things during a presidential election because the electorate may look at some of these qualities as weak, but if these are characteristics that every president should have.