Elections, Families and Victor Frankenstein

Watching all the back and forth, division and blaming, fear, and concern about this election got me thinking.  

Not long ago, on Twitter, someone posted “Whoever goes to the White House will bring along many others with their personal baggage.” 

There was no claim as to who would win the election or who they would bring with them. Just a less than 280-character bit of information to think about. 

Got me thinking.  

Thinking about how this most vital job, being President of the United States, is a great place to analyze the model of how businesses, small and large are so similar. And the fact that we all, each of us brings baggage from our history into the workplace, that is unless we have done enough personal work to observe, understand, and transform patterns from the past, we will play them out, often to the detriment of the business and our colleagues. 

The whole concept of “office politics” is about positioning to be in the right place at the right time. It’s about favorites and gossip and backbiting and betrayal and hurts and fear and hopes and possibilities.  

It’s about the baggage from the past and how it plays into the present time.  

So, the Twitter person was correct.  

Everyone will bring some old baggage into the White House. The question is, how much and what to do with it.  

I must admit later in that evening, sick of listening to the pundits, I was looking for a way to forget about all the election issues boiling over. I decided to take a break into the film world of fantasy. 

I watched Victor Frankenstein simply looking for a diversion. Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel it has been done many times with the most creative being Young Frankenstein produced by Mel Brooks. 

The film I watched will not win any Academy Award. However, there is a fascinating link connecting personal baggage with one of the candidates who traveled the road to the White House and wants four more years.  

All Presidents are both great and awful, depending on your perspective. 

However, rarely do we look at the underbelly of what drives people to seek this highest job in our country, in the world. 

I sat mesmerized as I watched a film that seemed to have so many connections to what is going on right here and right now with the man who is presently in office and wanting four more years. 

Here is a synopsis of the movie: 

Young Victor, a brilliant physician, is driven by the need to atone for his indirect role in the death of his older brother who was set upon by a domineering father. It becomes clear that the “monster” Victor created is to be his most important contribution to science and absolve him from his guilt. The monster is just that, a monster doing damage and must be destroyed. At the end, at the last minute, Victor apologizes for all the suffering he caused and retreats to the countryside in search of new (hopefully positive) discoveries. 

I must add, that Victor Frankenstein almost destroyed the world he was the leader of and it was only something (today it might be COVID) that kept him from his final destructive act.  

The film has a contemporary flair in showing how vital it is to search inside yourself so that when opportunities occur on your road to your success you can travel with less old baggage.   

What if all leaders had the courage to look at old ingrained patterns that repeat and repeat? What if all leaders were required to observe, understand, and transform outdated and unresolved behaviors before they caused damage?  

Perhaps anyone who runs for high office should have to show us a certificate of completion of personal growth work before their name is even on a ballot. 

I don’t know personally if the President is still making up for the pain of his childhood.  I can only observe from afar. So many authors and professionals think that maybe the case including his niece, Mary Trump, who has her own grievances to contend with in her book “Too Much and Never Enough.” 

It is worth a read. 

As an executive coach, I have been amazed about how many in leadership are playing out old, outdated, family patterns at work.  

One example is a man who became CEO of a large, multi-national company that kept making changes every six months until the senior staff was exhausted.  

When I finally asked him why there was so much constant change and told him his leaders were exhausted from the upheaval, he replied, without missing a beat “I grew up in a family with a really crazy mother and we kept changing where we lived in less than a year. We did this time and time again and it made me resourceful in finding how to navigate new schools and new friends all the time. I believe, this will be good for our organization and will help the senior executives grow as I grew in tough circumstances.” 

It was not until almost all on his senior team were ready to resign that he finally “got” that what happened to him as a child was not the essence of how to run a business. 

I’m sure many of you have stories of bosses who were working out their personal issues in the workplace. I’d love to hear those stories. 

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on leaders you have worked with or know who have taken the time to do a deep dive into their personal past and the results. 

Here’s to your success, 

Sylvia 

Ps. I think you might enjoy my award winning book… Don’t Bring it to Work. Get your copy here.

Sylvia Lafair

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