The results of the presidential election shocked me. My wife and I told each other that we could not go to sleep until we knew what the result was going to be. Finally, at 1:30am Donald Trump was announced as the new president-elect.
Whether this was your first election or your fifth election no one can deny that it was filled with unprecedented interest, drama, conflict, hi's, low's, and everything in between. As I reflect on the outcome of the election and the past year of the campaign there are a few things that I have learned or been reminded about.
#1 Character Still Matters
The character of these two candidates was scrutinized and challenged unlike any other presidential candidates that I have seen. And what made it all the more intense was the fact that both candidates had questionable marks in their character. Whether it was Hillary Clinton's questionable ethics on matters of government protocol or Donald Trump's lewd comments about women both of these candidates had some big hills to climb when it came to proving that they had the right character and integrity for the job. I suppose what encouraged me was the fact that it seemed as though the American people actually cared about character (depending on what candidate you were rooting for you may disagree with this point). Character was a major discussion topic on news stations and in the debates leading up to the election. No matter what your political affiliation, people still care about character and aspiring leaders should take note of this.
#2 The Experts Can Be Wrong
For weeks I was following the polls on the election and it was very clear that it was going to be a miracle for Donald Trump to have any remote possibility of winning the election. Hillary Clinton led by such a huge margin most people went into November 8th believing Hillary Clinton would win handily. There is even evidence that Donald Trump's own campaign was more bracing for a defeat than a victory. But then the numbers started coming in and it was the exact opposite of what all the experts predicted. I think the lesson in this for leaders is that in leadership a person will receive information from a number of sources and they must be careful not to simply blindly believe everything they hear. Do not get me wrong, I think that experts in various fields for the most part get things right, but there are times when this is not the case.
#3 Don't Celebrate Too Early
When things seem to be going your way it can be tempting to celebrate early, let the guard down, and prepare for a party. I think that it is safe to say that for the democratic party this was an area where they slipped up. The sign of seeming victory can cause a person to lose intensity. It's not over until it's over! Whatever the situation, keep fighting until the very end no matter what!
#4 The Political Landscape is Changing
People are going to be talking for months about how this election has revealed that the political landscape is changing. One news station I was watching was comparing the voting in various counties in the 2012 election to this election and it was amazing to see that some counties that were very blue in 2012 became very red in 2016 and vice versa. I think it is safe to say that our nation is becoming more complex than simply "republican" and "democrat." In fact, I think that over the next few years the presumed definitions for these parties are going to shift.
#5 It is Admirable to Win and Lose with Grace
Donald Trump was a gracious winner and Hillary Clinton was a gracious loser. When I think about how each of these candidates could have handled the results of this election it could have gone many different ways. Hillary Clinton could have stalled and contended the voting and demanded recounts, but instead she graciously (probably with unbelievable difficulty) conceded. Donald Trump could have had a boisterous celebration and really lived up the victory but instead he gave a simple speech, honored Hillary Clinton, and set a vision for the future. If there is anything that I respected about these two candidates during this election it was this moment.
All I have to say is, this was a wild ride of an election season and I am glad that the process is done. I am looking forward to the next four years. I pray that Donald Trump can follow through on his promises and continue to make this country great.