The reward of public service is intrinsic for many of us. Not in a selfish way, but in a way that fills a space inside your soul. Sounds deep, because it is. The passion has to be one that drives you beyond what most consider reasonable at times. I have been spit at, cussed out, threatened, followed, and targeted. Yet, I get up each day hoping to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.
When attempting to serve the public, you have to understand the issues. Housing, employment, public safety and many topics arise daily as challenges, or as we refer to it in public service, opportunities. Connecting with your community on various levels allows you to hear what it is like to walk in others’ shoes. This understanding prompts efforts. We hear, we see, we feel and then we respond.
The metrics for success in public service are often measured outwardly. How many jobs are filled, how many people attended or took advantage of a service, how much money was saved or how much economic impact was generated.
At this point, it should be apparent that I have a flare for the obvious. What isn’t so apparent though, is why so many of us, knowing all the previously stated things, continue to use the same approaches when we don’t get a better result. Same approach, same results, right? Why not try to approach things like you may not get another chance? Don’t cringe, I am not getting ready to overuse the expression, “out of the box.” The theory behind it is worth consideration though. Different approach, may get different results.
Let me pause here and say I am not insulting you by insinuating you may be using a similar approach to someone else or continue to do something that “has always been done that way.” Often we feel that our approach is up to a higher authority. Sometimes we feel so restricted in our guidelines that is seems impossible to do anything different. Sometimes we lose our passion and getting an average result becomes acceptable.
Have you ever thought about the legacy of what we can do though? I do. The older I get, the more I realize, public service is an extreme responsibility, which allows me to do things that impact lives and leave a legacy that surpasses my life. Sounds exciting? Adding the term legacy to any effort, always draws a higher level of attention. The best of the best begin to perk their ears up, and race to the sound when that word is used. A chance to do something so meaningful that it will last for generations to come.
If I accept that what we do, can create a legacy, then the idea of average results becomes nauseating. To create a legacy, I have to be an exclamation point. Push the boundaries, break the barriers of traditional thought and give the community what they deserve. If you understand the challenges, your solution must match the needs. From where I sit, we have a lot of needs and a lot of opportunities. I hear 100 good ideas a day on how to move forward, but I see 1000’s sitting on the shelf collecting dust because we are afraid to try. Leave a lasting impression, go for broke and create a legacy. Go be an exclamation point!
Photo Credit: Chamreece Diggs