Leveraging OPE (other people’s energy) for fame and fortune. The Deluded President issue.
Ask Trump how his presidency is going so far. What would he say?
My guess it would be something like this:
“This is a great presidency. One of the best presidencies ever. No one has achieved more for America than I have.”
Something like that right? It’s fairly predictable.
But even to Trump supporters, this isn’t really believable. You’re not taking it literally. Even if you love Trump, you probably wouldn’t go out on a limb and say that Trump was one of the best presidents ever.
But Trump would.
Trump is now famous for his, “No one does X better than I do” statements.” Some of them feel exaggerated “No one understands infrastructure better than I do.” Some of them just sound absurd “No one loves the bible more than I do” or “No one respects women more than I do.” (Yep, he really said that.)
What is his strategy here? Why does he just keep pumping out these statements that literally no one believes? You don’t even really believe that he believes it.
His critics say he’s just a deluded narcissist. It’s the kind of stuff that a madman would say.
And look that could be it. I’m not a professional psych, unlike the junior columnists at The Guardian. Could be true.
But my theory is that he’s leading by example.
He is demonstrating an unwavering commitment and support to himself, so that others may follow by his example.
What I think Trump recognises is that humans like to back winners. ‘Loser’ is a stench and it’s repulsive. Even as much as Aussies like to back underdogs, we only back them if they actually have a chance of making a decent show of it.
And so this is an energy source that we’re able to work with.
If you can paint your project in the colours of ‘winner’ it will attract energy. It will attract people willing to put energy into the outcome.
Dress it in the rags of loserdom, and even you’re die-hard supporters will start eyeing the exits.
Maybe an example will make this clearer.
Imagine you’ve got to go to your financial partners to ask them to tip in another 5% to cover a cost overrun.
Email 1: Dear Linda. I’m very sorry to say that our project is running out of cash. I am really worried that if we don’t raise a little more money, the whole project is going to fall over. Can you please give us some more?
Email 2: Dear Linda. The project is going great. I can’t tell you how many calls I’m getting about how awesome our project looks. We’re going to win awards with this one. We do need a little more money to seal the deal though. Can you please give us some more?
Or think about an invite to a party:
Email 1: Can you come to my party? I’m really hoping that everyone can make it. I really don’t want it to be awkward with just a few of us sitting round. So please come and pretty please bring all your friends.
Email 2: Hey, I’m having a party. I think I’ve got like 200 people locked in already. The police are hassling me to get a mass gathering license. It’s going to be epic. Oh, do you want to come too?
Do you see what I mean? Even though you know the second emails are exaggerated (No one throws parties better than me), it doesn’t really matter. You’re holding a space so that people can look at the project through the lens of winner-ness.
And it works. Having seen it through that lens, people take that world view on. In their minds, it’s a successful endeavour unless proven otherwise.
And this is what Trump is doing. He’s inviting people to look at him as if he was the greatest president ever. He is anchoring his perception in greatness, in the way that good negotiators will ‘anchor’ the price near where they want to end up.
And it just doesn’t matter if it’s believable or not. The only thing that matters is that Trump back himself, with total confidence.
And with that, he calls in a huge amount of energy – energy he can work with.
So, what are you the greatest at doing?