Politics is not for the faint of heart, especially in the Tar Heel state. Throughout our history, North Carolina has been the home of countless incredible statesmen — they’ve all had several common attributes.

New candidates and veteran incumbents ask the same question every election cycle: “What will it take for us to win this race?” 

Based on our experience in the land of the long leaf pine, Capen Consulting found several common characteristics amongst victorious candidates. Here’s what separates the winners from the ones who don’t make the mark:

1. Purpose-Driven Lifestyle. Voters are seeking candidates with a strong record of authentic service to others. Military experience, prior elected office, corporate leadership, and volunteerism can demonstrate a candidate’s commitment to putting others ahead of themselves. Winning an election takes a lot more than pure ambition. It takes core values, determination to achieve an established agenda and a purpose-driven lifestyle.

2. Supportive Friends & Family. A strong message and a thoughtful agenda will only take you so far. A successful candidate will need a strong support system of family and friends to encourage, motivate, and contribute to their campaign. Contributions can take many forms. Whether time, talent, or treasures, it takes resources to deliver your message to prospective voters. It takes committed supporters.

3. Relentless Work Ethic. Running a successful campaign takes time and commitment. That’s why many successful candidates happen to be retired. You need to commit to knocking on doors, making phone calls, and attending community events. Even if you are still working for a living, you too can be a successful candidate — but you must prioritize your time and refuse to be outworked by your opponent(s).

4. Willingness to Fight. Politics is a lot like boxing, and winning candidates aren’t afraid to fight. When you enter the ring, there are rules. You must stay above the belt, but you can’t be afraid to get hit. More importantly, you can’t be afraid to throw a knock-out punch. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you — but don’t back down when you have been called to slay Goliath.

5. Resilience. Hundreds of significant politicians throughout history have lost their election bids. Take, for example, Barack Obama, who lost in 2000 during his first run at Congress, losing in the Democrat Primary to Bobby Rush. You may have heard of another well-known politico from Illinois by the name of Abraham Lincoln, who lost his first attempt running for the Illinois State Assembly in 1832. These men didn’t give up. It doesn’t matter how many times you may fail; what matters is that you get up and try again.

As voters look to their general election ballots this November, they will be looking for candidates that exemplify these characteristics. 

North Carolina needs more authentic statesmen, and fewer politicians.

David Capen is the owner of Capen Consulting, LLC, a Raleigh-based political and public affairs consulting firm.