For most of those who have a Netflix subscription, Frank Underwood needs no introduction. But for those who don’t, then I guess he kinda does. House of Cards is a Netflix Original show which chronicles the meteoric rise of one Frank Underwood – from House Majority Whip to the President of the United States of America, with barely a vote cast in his favour.
As I’m sure you can imagine, he doesn’t achieve this by being the nicest guy in the world. He’s manipulative, lying, deceiving and blackmailing. One main character found himself passed out drunk and gassed to death by his own car in his own garage. Another found herself under a Washington subway train. Frank Underwood wasn’t entirely distant from either introduction to mortality.
However, aside from the odd murder and backstabbing bastardry, there are a few Underwood principles which are actually pragmatic and effective. Indulge me as I outline a few life lessons that everybody could learn from President Underwood.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A NORMAL MARRIAGE. Frank and Claire have the strangest of marriages. Unrecognisable by the standards of the white picket fence of the American Dream, the Underwoods have had several affairs and seldom sleep in the same bed. But one thing is undeniable – it works. For both of them. Don’t handcuff yourself to what you think your relationship should like like.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH TAKING CONTROL. Frank doesn’t leave anything to chance, and that’s something maybe we can all learn from. If you don’t like the way the table is set, turn over the table. The Underwood have always had a clear plan, and have maximised their chances of that plan succeeding all along the way. It stands to reason we could all be a bit more proactive. If you don’t like your job, what job would you like? The only certain reason you don’t have it is because you haven’t gone for it. You aren’t guaranteed a promotion, but your boss is guaranteed to promote someone.
LISTENING IS MORE USEFUL, AND SAFER, THAN TALKING. Information is like diamond dust. It’s key to know as much as you can – about your company, your industry, your colleagues, your friends. Listen and understand, that’s how the Underwoods are always two steps ahead. They know what they want, and what other people want. And they know how to get it. The more you listen, the less you say. And the less you say, the less likely you’ll say something which someone can hold against you.
YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN. By no means, did the highest office in the land fall into the Underwoods’ lap. Years of hard work, dozens of sleepless nights, round the clock work and failure after failure are the ingredients of their success. That much stands true for everyone. You have to earn the right to deserve things. It’s not by chance that certain marriages last decades. And certain people seem to catapult themselves up the corporate ladder. Every area of life, this applies. For things to happen, you need to make them happen. And for things to work, you need to make them work. Effort demands respect, and respect fuels results.
I’m sure there are many more examples I could list. But I don’t want too many spoilers in here. And besides, you should be watching the show to find this all out, not reading my goddamn blog.
Til next time, check out the show. It didn’t get five seasons for being terrible. And remember, “that’s how you devour a whale… one bite at a time”.