politics Oct 28, 2016
FAST TRUMP FACTS*
Worldview: Achiever (Stage 6 of 12)
Core Values: Autonomy, Power, & Affluence
Framing Metaphor: Game (winning vs. losing)
Trump Life Mantra:
“Life is a competitive game in which I must achieve my goals
without getting into trouble. To win, I must fully
own and express my personal power.”
Trump’s worldview is a hearty, creative, clever and resourceful approach to living. At this stage of worldview development, he is strongly identified with the material world as real and important. As a result, material affluence, physical beauty and worldly power are highly cherished ends.
The key to understanding how Trump thinks is to realize that you can’t always trust that what he is telling is what he truly believes. Integrity for Trump is not so much about saying the factual truth, as it’s about staying true to his personal agenda.
The guilt that this morally slippery mindset causes within Trump is rarely felt on a conscious level. Instead, it is projected outward in the form of competitiveness, compulsiveness and disregard for the whole inner realm of feelings. This keeps Trump emotionally locked up and presents us with a unique communication challenge if we hope to influence him.
To inspire Donald we must find a way to successfully invite him to reframe self-interest in a more expansive way. This requires that we demonstrate genuine compassion and respect for Trump's worldview with its unique strengths, while also being tough enough, when necessary, to crack through his beastly ego.
Greek philosopher Heraclitus boldly proclaimed that, “War is the father of all things.” If so, then we might view Trump as the existential offspring of the war between mankind’s inner need for security and his need to be free from all rules. When monolithic morality-based religions began to dominate human culture, our quality of life improved tremendously. Protected from predators and starvation, we began to question the prudence of waiting until heaven to experience bliss. Eventually our patience for dogma wore thin, and we decided to take matters into our own hands. Thus began the scientific revolution, which led to the Renaissance, industrial revolution and the cultural underpinnings of a 20th century culture in which Trump and his kind flourished.
Trump is pragmatic and self-directed. As a rule, Trump views people through the strategic filter of personal ambitions. Many self-righteous people in the liberal base off-handedly dismiss him as the scourge of the earth, as the cause of mankind’s spreading social and environmental ills. But the truth is that Trump’s worldview isn’t inherently bad or good—it is a stage of thinking with strengths and weaknesses that everyone must pass through to become a mature adult.
If we are disenchanted by Trump’s unhealthy impact on our world, we must find a way to channel his actions in a positive direction. The first step is to forgive our grievances and understand that everything he does results from noble—if sometimes shortsighted—intentions.
Here’s the scoop from Trump’s POV: He believes that humans are strong, self-determined beings. To indulge in debased concepts such as victimhood and to give handouts to the needy offends his deepest sensibilities about the inherently creative, powerful nature of our species. He accepts that tough lessons are sometimes a healthy part of the natural growth process. As he sees it, people learn toughness by falling on their face and getting back up again.
Trump believes that each of us is responsible for creating our own lives. To him life is a game—a rough, exciting game that we are all here to play full out. It is an invigorating worldview for those able to embrace it. It’s also morally seductive, because once a person buys into Trump’s worldview, they are no longer forced to emotionally digest the suffering of fellow humans. Guilt can be simply written off as weakness, and poverty blamed on the poor. The impulse to serve others can be rationalized away without a second thought.
Trump devotes considerable mental energy towards staving off the deep sense of loneliness buried within through ambitious schemes to increase his social power and affluence. This split-minded condition is the source of his duplicitous tendencies and will be the eventual cause of his emotional undoing.
Unfortunately, even the richest and most famous of tycoons must come to grips with their own mortality. When the reality of mortality hits, Trump may begin to once again wonder about that part of his nature that is beyond form. If Trump fails miserably as US President, it would ultimately bring many blessings, helping him open his heart to reclaim buried gifts of kindness, empathy and compassion that emerge in Stage 7 Explorer (aka “the liberal base”)
When he is in control and flourishing, Trump infects others with his boundless optimism and vision. He creates companies, jobs and technology—the very economic infrastructure that sustains capitalism.
He has an uncanny ability to sense opportunity and can lead others to greatness. He is a motivator with boundless energy and unmatched persuasive abilities. He truly understands the power of the human will, and can effectively call others to embrace and express their own personal power as well.
When Trump loses control, it’s a dark sight to behold. Without a sense of control, he finds himself in an untenable position: exposed and vulnerable in a competitive, dangerous world. He is left with a choice: should he ask for help from other humans and risk being vulnerable, or simply push harder to achieve his goals?
When Trump is unhealthy, the answer is clear: Push! Push! Push! Achieving success and social prestige becomes an almost messianic quest for inner-fulfillment, a surrogate for human warmth.
Over time, the once-optimistic Trump smile becomes a scowl. Nothing is enough. People become pawns and life loses its luster. The more Trump begins to admit his own unhappiness, the more he tries to compensate with symbols of material power.
Donald Trump views people and groups through a pragmatic lens. “How will people in these groups help me or hurt me in my quest to accomplish my goals?”
Donald appreciates how loyal, sacrificial and easily led the Republican base can be. Healthy people in this group make great spouses, customers, and employees (as long as they can be made to refrain from expressing excessive moral outrage at his selfish values). Secretly, unhealthy Trump despises dogma and authority of all sorts and pities the Republican base’s gullible nature. Yet healthy Trump can make the best possible mentor for such believers because he truly understands their predicament and can motivate them to improve their lot through the power of self-reliance.
Trump finds the liberal base to be moderately or highly unpleasant. First of all, they are frustratingly difficult to control because they are operating from more complex, relativistic worldview. Also, it often seems to him that they more interested in having meetings and “sharing” than with getting things done. But, for Trump, the most distasteful thing about the liberal base is that it constantly seems to be trying to make everyone feel guilty. This group's communitarian values offend Trump's belief in rugged individualism and stirs the buried guilt around his spiritual filter. On the positive side, wealthy, successful liberals will make the perfect mentor for Trump once he’s ready to seek out a more meaningful existence.
Trust is the primary existential issue that Trump must overcome in order to move forward. Because Trump is opportunistic and calculating, he naturally assumes that the world is populated with mostly opportunistic and calculating people. No wonder he can’t trust! When Trump is unhealthy, mistrust can lead to paranoia and delusions of persecution. But for the most part, his mistrust lies just hidden in the background of awareness, as a faint sense that the world is not safe and a feeling that he must watch his back lest someone place a knife in it.
But, like everyone, Trump has a soft and lovable underbelly. Trusted friends and associates know this side and are gifted with a less guarded version of his generous nature, especially in times of need. Trump feels comforted by people who are “on his team.” This comfort can develop into genuine admiration if these people have also managed to achieve worldly success and prestige while demonstrating higher attributes of emotional openness and warmth.
Here are some general principles and best practices for designing media and communications to influence people who identify with the Trump’s worldview.
STEP #1: ENGAGE TRUMP’S SENSORY FILTER
As always, make sure to design your message with an aesthetic quality, tone, and style that resonates with Trump’s sensibilities. Donald generally appreciates designs that project status, power, and strength. He wants to stand out from the crowd, so his media should too. In choosing tone and feel, be light on tradition but conventional enough to evoke a sense of familiarity. In other words, be bold while staying somewhat within the bounds of convention. Avoid flowery or sappy aesthetics. Trump’s is an inherently masculine psychology.
STEP #2: ENGAGE TRUMP’S MENTAL FILTER
Trump is always scanning for opportunities to further his preset goals. Once you’ve got his attention, you must be quick and to the point. He must feel that what you have to say is factual, specific, and vital to his self-interest (physical, financial, professional, social, etc.). The more you know about his goals the better. If possible, the message content should be framed according to Trump’s values of accomplishing, power and profit. How are you creating an opportunity to help him accomplish things more easily? Take some time to imagine yourself in Trump’s shoes: What are some specific stresses and thoughts that might be happening in his mind at that particular moment?
Trump must feel that you understand and respect his values and that you have something of practical significance to offer him. Not breezy philosophy, but brass tacks, real-world stuff. Be concrete. As always, resonant metaphors are powerful and can be used on both a visual and a verbal level. One great strategy is to create a challenge that Trump must win. Sports metaphors can work wonders. In fact, competitive Trump so loves a challenge that one great way to motivate him is by telling him he can’t do something. Reverse psychology often goes a long, long way.
Understand that Trump’s competitiveness is actually a byproduct of a fervent belief in the scarcity principle—the notion that this world is a zero-sum game. You might tactfully leverage his fear of being seen as a loser to get his attention, but be careful with this one. Fear is a real inspiration killer if you aren’t using it delicately and with larger, life-serving intent. Besides the strategies given, feel free to creatively draw from any number of the other proven mind capturing strategies covered in Chapter 3 (questioning, problem making, personal recognition, storytelling, etc.). The important thing is that you artfully cater these communication tactics to the particular values and goals of Trump’s self-directed, individualistic mind.
STEP #3: OVERCOME TRUMP’S SPIRITUAL FILTER
Once we’ve got Donald's mind engaged, we can take it to the next level. Our design goal is now to help Trump reframe his experience into something more expansive. My personal favorite tactic for overcoming Trump’s spiritual filter is with strategic questions. This is true for all thinking types, but especially for Trump with his defensive, pragmatic, and mercurial mind. A good question will actually stop the mind for a moment and help him experience a moment of stillness from which inspiration can emerge. This question must be deeply rooted in an understanding of his unique psychological predicament.
On the surface, Trump is driven to achieve. On a hidden level, he longs to feel accepted and loved. Knowing this structural contradiction, it is possible to create a question that inspires him to consider, for example, that he truly can have material success and intimacy at the same time. A good question of this sort will open him up to new possibilities. Once the door opens a crack, inspiration will keep leaking in and an indelible mental impression will be made.
A great application of this principle comes from skillfully combining questions with metaphors, as described below. Trump’s game metaphor is limiting. It causes one to constantly view other people through the lens of competition. To pave the way for the establishment of a new context that transcends the competitive self/other polarity, urge Donald to consider these hidden limitations. “Aren’t you tired of always having to stay one-up on the competition?” “Do ever feel that the cost of winning is just too great?” “What would you do if losing was impossible?” “What in your life is more valuable than winning?” Questions like this, applied in a context of deep rapport and trust, can be powerful indeed.
When inspiration adds enough energy to Trump’s mind, he will feel safe to release his agenda and open up to something new. He’ll experience a fresh new world where he is no longer afraid to let his guard down, where his impact on other people matters, and where feelings are a vital part of being human. Ironically, this surge of insight will come with a newfound distaste for worldly ambitions. As "the Donald" embraces the liberal base worldview, his disdain for the realm of inner-feelings may flip and become redirected towards the realm of commercialism. Great communicators must understand this shift, and adjust their messages accordingly.
*Article adapted from Chapter 9 ("Inspiring the Achiever) of Igniting Inspiration: A Persuasion Manual for Visionaries by John Marshall Roberts (2008). Note: Only names and minor wordings were changed.
© 2016 Worldview Thinking