You only need to know just these three simple rules so you too can be political or know how to deal with other people:
1) Get selected or elected
2) Stay selected or elected
3) Get ahead by being selected or elected
These rules look so simple that they are often ignored at one'e peril. Whenever you are dealing any situation, if you ask these three questions, you will know how to approach it and get what you want without wasting a lot of time.
People work very hard to get something such as going to school, paying their dues, or getting elected. Those who are good at getting get ahead than those who are good at working. It is better to be good at getting since Number #2 can take care of your problem if you are not that good at working.
Stay Selected or Elected
Once you get selected or elected, your top job is to stay selected or elected. If you start focus on getting the job done, then you are going to be a victim of politics. You have to create the impression that you are getting the work done. Many times it will not even matter if you suck at your job since remember, position is power. It is very hard to get people out of power once they grab a position. This applies in realpolitik as well as companies, clubs, government and academia.
Get ahead by being selected or elected
Once you have secured your position, it is time to consolidate it and explore getting ahead. You only want to try to get ahead if you have a good chance of getting selected or elected and, once there, will let you remain there. In politics, it's often one and done so you want to succeed; however, you can recover from a strategic retreat but not a total destruction. You also have to be strategic on the timing since this is one aspect you don't control and when the opportunity is right, you have to grab it. You may not get another chance. A good example of this was when Barack Obama ran for the Presidency and won which I write about in the blog, "Lesson from Barack Obama on How to Get to the Top."
Why politicians succeed?
According to article in WSJ tilted "What Corporate Climbers Can Tell Us," they cite three personality traits that make them successful: manipulativeness (influencing others for personal gain) , narcissism (being self-centered) and anti-social (lacking empathy). Each of these traits used excessively can be self destructive, but used moderately can be very effective for success. These three traits are referred to as "dark triad" according to researcher Seth Spain, Assistant Professor of organizational behavior at Binghamton University.
This research explains why politicians are good at getting a job because according to the article "People with dark traits are often attractive job candidates because they display charm, assertiveness and apparent leadership ability."
One of the things you always see on Sunday news shows on TV is that politicians always citing what American people want, but rarely get challenged that American people simply do not matter to them. They only matter during the election. But the American people are quite happy with those politicians in power. For example, during the recent Republican primaries only 1% of the current members were defeated. Polls don't matter, position matters. When time comes for American people to speak with their feet, they are quite satisfied with those who hold current positions.
In politics you can't lose focus on what really matters to you, but don't let people know that ; they only want to hear what matters to them. This is a sign of an intelligent mind at work, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famous quote says it the best: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. " And function they do real well.
Example of a great politician
Though the three rules of politics applies to just about everyone no matter what they say or their PR tries to convince you, but a good example of someone who followed these rules with a noble purpose (keeping the Union together) was Abraham Lincoln. To ensure that he did not deviate from focusing on his noble purpose, Lincoln surrounded himself with people ("Team of Rivals") who could tell him he was wrong. This is a sign of a confident politician who is not going to succumb to a delusion of grandeur that afflicts people who gain power. And he didn't and became one of th greatest figure in history of mankind.
Notwithstanding Lincoln, in life you don't get what you deserve; you don't even get what you negotiate; you get what you want playing politics. If you don't know this, then you are going to be a victim of it. Life is fairer to those who are politically astute.