Elections, Families, and Victor Frankenstein

elections and Frankenstein

Summary: Elections happen all the time. Here is a way to think about who you want to vote for and support. How do we know which candidates have self-awareness and are emotionally intelligent?

Elections are part of our lives. From high school campaigns to national elections, there is always someone who wants your vote.

How much to do you about the various candidates? The big question is, “What matters ?”

Watching all the back and forth that takes place locally, statewide, and nationally got me thinking. There is so much blaming, back-stabbing, defending, judging, and attacking it is exhausting to listen.

What, I wonder, happened to self-awareness?

How do you make educated choices when it’s time to vote?

For instance, on Twitter, someone posted, “Whoever goes to the White House will bring along many others with their baggage.” 

There is no claim as to who wins the election. Nor any particulars about who the winner would bring with them—just a less than 280-character bit of information to consider. 

Nothing appears about the importance of emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

Candidates bring lots of baggage with them without self-awareness.

For instance, it got me thinking. I decided to take time and analyze the role of the President of the United States. There is essential information about business in general.

We all, each of us, bring baggage from our history into the workplace.

To clarify, unless we have done enough personal work to observe, understand, and transform patterns from the past, we will play them out. Sadly, this behavior is so often to the detriment of the business and our colleagues. 

Office politics is a way of life in most organizations.

The whole concept of “office politics” is about positioning to be in the right place at the right time. It’s about choosing favorites. In addition, you find gossip is rampant.

There is often backbiting and betrayal. Tales of hurts and fears abound. Occasionally you will hear talk of hopes and possibilities.  

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

So, the Twitter person was correct.  

You can separate the past from the present when you are self-aware.

Everyone will bring some old baggage into any work setting. That includes the White House.

Therefore, the question is, how much dirty laundry shows up? Most importantly, what to do with it?

How do we know if those we entrust with our policies are self-aware and able to think about what is best for everyone, not just oneself?

Above all, while I admit I am a committed citizen, I get 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. 

A novel from 1818 offers insight into 21st century work settings.

I watched Victor Frankenstein simply looking for a diversion. Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel is a classic with many renditions. The most creative is “Young Frankenstein. ”

The film I watched will not win an Academy Award. However, a fascinating link connects personal baggage with how we lead and also how we follow leaders.

Other excellent dramas shed light on what happens with people who crave power.

Here are a few to consider: All the President’s Men; The American President; Hamilton; West Wing; Primary Colors.

Look, 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. Is it solely power? Would the behavior always be self-serving? Could it be a desire to make a positive difference?

What Victor Frankenstein teaches us.

I sat mesmerized.  I watched a film that seemed to have so many connections to what goes on in our present-day 

Here is a synopsis of the movie: 

Young Victor, a brilliant physician, wants to atone for his indirect role in the death of his older brother. The back story is that the older brother lived under the shadow of an overbearing father.

It becomes clear that the “monster” Victor created is his most significant contribution to science and absolves him from his guilt. The monster is just that, a beast who does damage. Eventually, someone had to destroy him. In 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. 

Self-awareness requires a deep search inside yourself.

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

What if all leaders dared 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. 

Should we expect leaders to pass a course in emotional intelligence to get high level jobs?

As an executive coach, learning how many leaders play out old, outdated family patterns at work still amazes me.  

One example is a man who became CEO of a large, multi-national company. He decided to make changes every six months until the senior staff was exhausted.  

When I finally asked him why there was so much constant change, the answer was sad and revealing. After I told him his leaders were exhausted from the upheaval, and many threatened to quit, he got reticent.

Subsequently, he replied, without missing a beat. “I grew up in a family with a crazy mother, and we kept changing where we lived in less than a year. We did this time and time again. I went to so many new schools I constantly had to make new friends. I believe this constant change made me resourceful in finding how to navigate life for success.

Most importantly, I believe this constant change is good for our organization. You’ll see, it will help the senior executives grow, just as I grew in challenging circumstances.” 

It was not until almost all on his senior team was ready to leave. They had a “truth to power” session with him.

After that, he finally “got” what was happening.

Clear the past to free the present is critial for effective leadership

To sum up, he learned that what happened to him as a child was not essential to run a business. 

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

I would appreciate your thoughts about leaders you have worked with or know—especially those who have taken the time to do a deep dive into their past. Which leaders do you think have emotional intelligence and are self-aware?

Here’s to your success, 


Ps. I think you might enjoy my award-winning book, “Don’t Bring it to Work.” You will gain a strong understanding of why baggage from the past can destroy an organization. Most importantly, you’ll get methods to make self-awareness methods useful in your workplace. Get your copy here.

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Sylvia Lafair

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