There is a video game that I used to play called Mount & Blade. It’s a medieval, action, role playing game. When you start the game you get to choose the skills path, character class, background, and social status of your character. You also get to distribute knowledge and skill points into a wide variety of skill sets. Both physical and mental.
In the game you can trade, recruit, attack, defend, negotiate, rest, train soldiers, fortify, and read. As you progress, your character will gain experience points. As you reach certain experience points amounts, you will level up. You can even take time to drill your army, and your warriors in your army will even level up.
This is just like real life. As we progress through life, we chose the skills we learn. The more we practice a skill, the more times we run for office or campaigns we assist, the more experience we gain, and then we level up.
Want to learn how to knock on doors, or communicate our policies in a positive and persuasive way, or any myriad of skills? Knock on doors, talk to people, take the actions. The more people you talk with, the more communication experience points you will gain. Were you are able to get their contact information? Extra points. Persuade them to volunteer/contribute? Extra points. Want to gain experience points faster? Instead of only talking to one new person a day, talk to 10.
Are you too new and have a low-level of experience in your Libertarian Communications skillset? Awesome! Read books on Libertarian Communications. Read books on persuasion and relationship building. Build your experience level up to take on those hard bosses in your political game.
Do you have the desire to slay your opponent in a debate? Or will you go into the debate battle as a noob? The time you invest into preparation and practice will determine the results.
What I have learned is that our opponents (Republicans and Democrats), in most cases, have more experience than us (higher level), and that translates into a bigger support network (army and allies). However, we can build our campaigns and our local parties to a point where we can successfully challenge our opponents. The more action we take, the faster we will level up. We gain experience points, and we level up.
We must level up.
To win this war, we must fight a lot of battles (campaigns). We must recruit volunteers/contributors (army), and allies. However, we don’t have to win every battle, we just have to learn (level-up) and help our volunteers, contributors, and allies learn (level-up).
The higher the level of our communication and relationship building skills, the more people we will be able to persuade to vote for us. One vote at a time wins elections. Level-up!
-C. Michael Pickens
“There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve volunteered with LP campaigns every year since 2011. Every year I’ve gained experience and leveled up. I’ve experienced the thrill of victory as well as the not as thrilling feeling of defeat. Or as I like to call it, not winning as much. I’ve also felt burnout, as many activists over the years have.
I’ve learned to take breaks after the November election until Jan/Feb. This year I took time off, came back and just didn’t feel inspired to continue. This last year was different. A close friend of mine passed away who I met through the LP and after it happened, I just didn’t feel that I had the energy I used to have. I slowed down. I took a break from social media and refocused on myself and some old personal/business goals I had set.
During my break, I have been catching up on reading and writing, improving my content creation skills, and continuing to build my statewide network in Washington. I was recharging my batteries for what will be my next big push. I’ve slowly started helping campaigns again, and have reviewed my candidate recruiting plans from 2014, 2015, and 2016. I feel refreshed and if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
I have reflected on my time and energy invested into the cause of liberty. I have asked myself, is it worth it? And the answer is most definitely YES.
Even though volunteering our time for the cause of liberty is not always easy, or fun, or exciting. Sometimes it is quite the opposite. Sometimes, it’s draining, boring, and frustrating. However, I look at some of our most prominent candidates and I see highly functioning campaigns, professional marketing pieces, and well written press releases. I see activists who were brand new to the LP just a few years ago, now in leadership positions taking massive action towards our mission.
When I joined the Libertarian Party I joined because I wanted to create a society void of coercion, victimless crimes, and authoritarian policies. I joined because I felt that Libertarianism is the only moral and ethical political philosophy in existence. I joined because I believed the Libertarian Party is the best vehicle to implement Libertarian policy and was the only political party that represents me.
However, sometimes life has a way of changing our plans. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay to modify plans and timeframes. For a year, a month, or a day. It’s healthy to reflect and recharge.
Because when we get active again, we are stronger and better prepared than we ever were.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”
When I started the Libertarian Leadership Academy back in 2014, I had a vision of helping to elect thousands of Libertarians from all around the country. Fast forward to today, I still hold that same vision.
Every campaign we run or assist with, provides us with opportunity for growth. Brings us one step closer to make our vision a reality. Our vision of creating a society free from coercion. A society with more prosperity and opportunity for more people will become a reality as long as we maintain our committment to it.
Every campaign is an opportunity to gain new skills and master the ones we have already started learning. Each campaign is just one battle is a much bigger war. The only way to win is by building up our knowledge and experience base, and then empowering other Libertarians to do the same.
As campaign season heats up, I want us all to remember that the efforts we put into this campaign season is an investment for future campaigns as well.
This year I've given talks and training for the Libertarian Party of Bexar County TX, Libertarian Party of Iowa, Libertarian Party of Alabama, and the Libertarian Party of Texas. I will also be speaking at a breakout event at the National Libertarian Party Convention in New Orleans at the end of June. Right now we have 303 members in the academy and I am personally coaching 4 campaigns.
Even though my primary business takes up most of my time, I have allotted time in my schedule to personally help 10 campaigns total this year. If you or a candidate/campaign you know of is interested in learning more about my coaching program, please reach out to me and we can schedule a call.
Whatever you are doing to advance liberty, focus on our short term goals, while remembering our overall long term vision.
C. Michael Pickens
C. Michael Pickens
C. Michael Pickens is the CMO and Co-Founder of CannaSales, Inc., former Northern Vice-Chairman of the LPCA and Chairman of the LPWA, and author of the book, "Libertarian Leadership."