Money Isn't Power: 7 Life Lessons Learned From 'House Of Cards'
"House of Cards" is much more than a gritty, captivating political drama.
On the surface, it's a show immersed in lies, deception, sex, power, manipulation and greed, but dive a little deeper and you will start to realize the ways this show can help improve your life.
I'm not encouraging you to go push someone in front a moving train or cheat on your husband with a handsome artist, but I am challenging you to consume this show with a keen eye.
"House of Cards" is not about politics.
Sure, it may give us a very narrow view of the US political system, but the show is mainly focused on these complex, flawed characters and their interactions with each other.
The relationships lost, bridges burned, character highs and lows and faulty decision-making skills remain at the forefront of each episode.
In a way, viewers are able to relate with and learn from the mistakes, missteps and successes of Frank and Claire Underwood, and the rest of the cast — not as political figures, but as human beings, too.
Without further ado, here are the seven life lessons I've learned from watching "House of Cards":
1. Power and influence don't come easily.
You can't reach the top without making some tough decisions along the way.
Frank Underwood had his sights set on the White House, and it's safe to say he went to the extreme in order to achieve what his heart was set on.
Murder, corruption and extortion may not be your own personal means to an end, but the point is, the road to power and influence is a long and arduous one.
Frank plays dirtier than anyone in the game, but it's hard not to admire his will power and determination toward becoming the most powerful person in the world.
Patience is a virtue. It will not happen overnight, but if you remain determined, motivated and steadfast through the difficult times, you will appreciate the hardships even more once you earn your long sought after position as a leader and influencer.
2. Marriage does not mean love.
Frank Underwood once said, "I love that woman, I love her more than sharks love blood."
Love is not a word that comes to mind when I think of Frank and Claire's marriage.
Their marriage has evolved into a chess match that has both husband and wife using their seemingly happy marriage to achieve personal and professional gains.
Frank knows he is nothing without Claire, and without a loyal wife by his side on the campaign trail, his chances of winning re-election are slim.
Claire, on the other hand, has used Frank's position of power to become UN ambassador and grow her influence in Washington, DC.
Observing their relationship has proven love should never be selfish.
The Underwoods go through the motions each day, focused solely on their own wants, but true love is building your partner up and helping him or her succeed in every way possible.
Marriage should never become a chore. I wake up each day thinking how I can make my girlfriend's day a little brighter, and it's satisfying when I take a step back from my own life to focus on hers.
3. Don't mix business with pleasure.
If you're thinking about making a move on the hot, young reporter in your office, who happens to be named Zoe, just don't.
It is never a good idea to let your personal life interfere with your professional life.
Frank's bed friendship took the fast train to disaster, Claire's love affair with Adam Galloway thrust its way into national spotlight and Peter Russo's love affair with alcohol alone was enough to destroy him.
If you know anything about Peter, I shouldn't have to explain myself.
The characters on "House of Cards" set a perfect example of how not to effectively balance your personal and professional lives.
Don't let your career consume you. Keep your personal matters out of the office — it's as simple as that.
4. Fake it until you make it.
When we see Frank in the first scene of the third season, he's heading to his father's grave as the newly-appointed President of the United States.
"Nobody showed up for his funeral except me, not even my mother," says Frank. "But I'll tell you this: When they bury me, it won't be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they'll have to wait in line."
Here, we get a sense of who Frank really is, compared to the honest, respectable president he's pretending to be.
One thing Frank manages to keep in tact throughout the series is his reputation, and I admire him for that.
Behind the scenes, he's a ruthless tyrant, but he manages to keep moving up the ranks without severely damaging his public image.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
Make sure your tree grows healthy and strong, but don't let your shadow become the only source of shade.
5. Loyalty is everything,
When I hear the word loyalty, I think of Doug Stamper, who is now Frank Underwood's White House Chief of Staff.
He may not be the most upstanding citizen with his awful track record, but he's like a cold-blooded puppy that will remain loyal to you for life.
He put Frank's aspirations and career before his own, and although Doug's morals are beyond saving, his one admirable quality is his loyalty to the people he cares about and trusts.
The president's right-hand man is far from perfect, but his level of dedication, commitment and loyalty to Frank and Claire Underwood and their grand scheme is something we can all appreciate and learn from.
6. Money is not a main motivator.
Frank Underwood tells viewers, “Choosing money over power is a mistake almost everyone makes.
Money is the big mansion in Saratoga that starts falling apart after 10 years; power is that old stone building that stands for centuries.”
Money is a powerful force in politics, but when it comes to my own life, I don't view it as a definition of success.
It's nice seeing my bank account increase a bit every two weeks, but what's even better is genuinely enjoying the work I do on a daily basis and being able to learn new things, teach and mentor others.
I'm working to make a living, but more importantly, I'm discovering other motivations for improving my work and personal life.
Leaders are never remembered for having a ton of money; they are remembered for the lasting contributions they make and the impact they have on people around the world.
7. Don't mistake kindness for weakness.
In other words, do not underestimate those you dismiss as weak and afraid.
Frank learned this the hard way when he attempted to remove now Democratic presidential candidate Heather Dunbar from the picture by enticing her to take a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
She called his bluff right away and now, the two are going head-to-head in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Success and power will often make otherwise levelheaded people become disillusioned and blinded by their own endeavors.
Give your peers the credit and recognition they deserve, and remain humble when it comes to your own successes in life.
Frank burned many bridges and walked all over people to get to the Oval Office, including his own wife.
She could only withstand Frank's wrath for so long before she had enough, and now, Frank has some big obstacles to overcome without the love and support of his ice queen.