When you're a hammer, the world's a nail
When you're a politician, the world's a vote
When you're Donald Trump, the world's your playground
No matter what he says or does, Trump's popularity among his supporters doesn't take a big hit, it merely takes a hiccup. How is it that he continues to trump anyone and everyone in his way?
In any battle of Trump vs. anyone there are three things going on:
- He knows he doesn't actually care whether he wins or loses the Presidential race. That's because he doesn't have too much of his identity in being President. His identity is invested in being a businessman, showman and getting attention (more about this later). That's also because, if he wins, he'll make some effort to do the job or decide, "Nah, this isn't fun," and resign and turn it over to his Vice President. After all we know of at least one President who resigned when the job wasn't working out for him.
- Everyone else (unconsciously) knows that he doesn't care whether he wins or loses. That may not be consciously apparent to them, but at some level they have to be thinking, "These are not the statements or actions of anyone wanting to be taken seriously." And since his opponents' full identities are about being politicians, they can't conceive or tolerate not caring about winning or losing a political race.
- Trump knows that everyone, but especially his opponents, know that he doesn't care about whether he wins or loses. That means that because his opponents care too much, Trump has something over them psychologically. It is also what enables Trump to say or do whatever he pleases and explains his lack of inhibition (a.k.a. being "real" vs. politically correct and appearing disingenuous), because underneath all his bravado, "He's just not that into it."
To better understand this, another example of this way of psyching out your opponents occurred when Tiger Woods was in his prime. I remember another PGA pro telling me about how Tiger psyched him and everyone else out. He told me, "When you played against Tiger, Tiger knew he could beat you, you knew he could beat you and Tiger knew that you knew he could beat you. That's a competitive advantage."
Is there a defense against Trump's competitive advantage?
What Trump has over his opponents is that his identity is more diversified. He's a showman, a TV personality, a businessman, an author, an entrepreneur. In contradistinction all his opponents are mainly politicians, even more so than their training that might have been in law or business or elsewhere and in many cases even more so than being parents or husbands and wives. In other words, they have too many of their eggs in one basket. And if that basket falls, they don't have a back up identity or plan.
The defense for his opponents is to become more diversified so that their caring too much about being elected doesn't translate into coming off as strident, on the defensive, uptight and therefore weak.
Without being diversified, when politicians leave political office, they seem to disappear. In fact the looks on their faces are reminiscent of Jeb Bush when he would smile uncomfortably -- and in full view -- during a confrontation with Trump. Under that smile he was probably not just thinking, "Trump is an utter a-hole," he was probably thinking, "What the heck am I doing here!" And that certainly didn't come off as presidential.
This lack of diversification may also explain why with the exception of Bill Clinton (who became diversified because of his Clinton Global Initiative, his persona and people just liking his making them feel so special with that well known ability he had), most former Presidents follow the words of General MacArthur...
"They don't die, they just fade away."