There’s something about Frank and Claire Underwood, excuse me President Underwood and the First Lady (obviously this contains spoilers), that we respect, not love. But that’s just how Frank would want us to perceive him for he warns us, his co-conspirators, that “The heart can choke the mind when all of its blood comes rushing back to it”. We don’t feel happy when Frank pounds the President’s desk, his desk, two times to end Season 2, because we don’t love him. We feel accomplished, because we conspired with him to secure our man as the President.
The Underwood’s rise from Majority Whip to President is a gripping tale of power. If you believe as Machiavelli did that the “Ends justify the means”, there is no modern tale, as widely watched as House of Cards, that exemplifies this mantra. Regardless of what you want your “Ends” to be, you can learn a couple of things from the Underwoods.
1) Cut The Cord: Zoe had to go
No matter how calculating your are, you are bound to become tied to someone, whether it’s professionally or personally. We all need mutually beneficial relationships. However when those relationships begin to destroy your chances for obtaining your dreams, it’s time to push them (obviously metaphorically) in front of a moving train.
2) Subtly Deciding For Others: Jackie Sharp becomes the Majority Whip
No matter how persuasive or right you are, some people will never concede your point. Sometimes it’s easier to get support, by quietly pushing people towards the decision that you want, thereby making them believe that the decision was their idea the entire time.
3) Never Regret: Frank Let’s Go of Freddy
Life is about making choices. More importantly, life is about being able to look yourself in the mirror. Never be sorry about a decision that you made, because it can’t be undone. Rather do whatever you can to always be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be satisfied with the individual standing before you.
4) Play to Win: Linda versus Frank
Whether you’re combating with the Chief of Staff for the support of the President or you’re competing with a colleague for a supervisor position, you have to play to win. Success in business and life is about being prepared to leverage opportunities. But part of playing to win is knowing when you lost. A respectful exit is much more powerful than a temper tantrum or being miserable.
5) Patience Above All: Claire and LTG McGinnis
Patience is more than a virtue, it’s a necessity in life. Much like combat, there is a time to strike and a time to wait. Often in the heat of the moment, every time feels like a good time to strike. However whether it’s pitching a great idea or destroying a Marine rapist, there’s a time and a place during which your actions will have the maximum effect.
6) Support, Don’t Hinder Someone Else’s Rise: Jackie Sharp
All too often managers become intimidated by their subordinate’s initiative or intellect. Either they’re worried about being replaced by this up-and-comer, or they feel betrayed if a subordinate wants to leave for a better opportunity. Instead of being the type of manager who actively tries to prevent the accession of a subordinate, be the type of manager who nurtures a subordinate’s success. Regardless of where they end up, they’ll have you to thank, which in turn means you have an ally in a place that you might need. It is a small world after all.
7) Similarities Before Opposites: Frank and Claire’s Marriage
Opposites may attract, but they also divorce much more often than those who have similar objectives in life. If you want to be happy, and you want to be married, find a partner who has similar objectives in life as you do. Whether it’s money, kids, careers, etc. you’ll be much happier and much more stable with a person like you than a person who is different from you.
8) Never Confuse Money With Power: Raymond Tusk
There's a hard point in life that many people don't understand. Just because you have money, doesn't mean that you have power. More importantly, just because you feel in charge, doesn't mean that you actually are. There are many managers in this world, but there are few leaders.
9) Put It All On The Line: Frank’s Letter to the President
Success is a hard road. The road has many obstacles and many traps. There are few dreams in life that don’t require you to put it all the line, to risk everything. The only question is, do you have the courage to go after your dreams.
10) Have Clear Goals: It's President Underwood
A lot of people go from one job to another with barely a thought of what's next and even less thought about future prospects. Set clear short, mid-term, and long-term goals for yourself. Just because you don't achieve a short or mid-term goal doesn't mean you can't reach your long-term goal, it just means you need to recalibrate your plans for success.