All high achievers — whether in sports, politics or business — know one simple rule: if you want to win, focus on the victory. Imagine it, feel it, touch it, smell it, but above all visualize it. Visualize yourself as the winner, and the victory will be yours.
Never had this principle been more obvious than during the recent presidential campaign in France. Local media – and based on them global media, too – featured numerous pictures of François Hollande, the left-wing candidate, in the position of a self-confident long before votes started to be casted. A self-fulfilling prophecy? Since Sunday France has a new president, and Europe new concerns to deal with coming from the hexagon.
Soft Hollande takes it all
Hollande was never of a trouble-maker in the French politics. Shy and gently-mannered, the life partner of the former 2007 presidential candidate Segolene Royal would have made many people smile just a year ago if he was presented as the potential new president. Ahead of him stood a powerful counterpart from his socialist ranks: Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whom many saw as the certain future president.
Yet, the September 2011 US Sofitel affair, when DSK was accused of rape by a hotel made, brought him down with the speed of light. A brilliant portrait by Le Monde noted that Hollande regretted his opponent’s fall. “I would have loved to confront him and win. That would have given me the right argument to run for president,” he said, quoted by the prestigious French daily.
Le Monde noted something else: After the break-up with Royal, Hollande went low profile. He focused more on his private life and on himself; he lost weight and got into a new relationship with the political journalist Valerie Trierweiler. When the question arose whether he should run for presidency, he discussed it with his partner. Trierweiler, a veteran of the French media political scene, advised him to go on. Yet, if he did, better go at a hundred percent and focus on his victory.
Hollande seems to have taken the advice at heart. The French daily mapped his steps following the decision to candidate, and the meticulousness with which he brought on board useful people, including his former enemies or rivals from within his ranks who hadn’t hidden their despise for the gently-mannered Hollande in the past.
On the other hand, Le Monde also points at his resolution to put aside friends and relationships that wouldn’t have fitted his purpose. Hollande focused methodically on his victory and believed in it. This is the attitude the media spotted and transmitted through visual images to voters. Thanks to the media, Hollande was a winner long time before the ballots were casted, and that’s because he believed in it.
Believe in it, and the victory will be yours
Could the media that ate from Sarkozy’s hand for five years all of a sudden quit their revered idol and turn positive on his counterpart? It’s hard to say. Was the need for change in France so deep that people went for Hollande without much thinking? The Social Democrat has the advantage of surfing on a powerful wave of social policy returns paradoxically in a moment when Europe craves a healthy financial detox. No surprise that one of the first steps he promised is to review the EU fiscal pact with Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Where this will take Europe, it’s hard to predict. The lesson to be learnt is that media still play an extremely powerful role in the becoming of a personality at a very subtle level. When you believe in something and you express it, the media captures it, people start believing in it, and you win. It’s simple. However, how many corporate managers in Czech companies could use this simple logic to achieve better results in public relations and reputation management? My bet is the wide majority.