I’ve gotten several inquiries lately about running for office. They vary from questions about time commitment to how to deal with difficult people to whether I find it rewarding and whether or not the person considering running for office should do it. I’ve enjoyed answering these questions and taking the time to reflect on it. In one of them, I got especially reflective and thought I’d share it.
Being an effective supervisor requires commitment, patience, skepticism, self knowledge and persistence. You need to be committed to it or you won’t do what needs to be done for people who have elected you to do what government has assured them we will do.
You have to be patient because things don’t happen that fast most of the time. Sometimes, they should and you have to have the gut to nudge or shove them along. And when they seem like they do move too fast, you may have to double down on patience and slow down. You also have to be patient with people who tax you personally because they are unkind, thoughtless, flippant, belligerent, and even mean. They can be constituents or people working in government. Sometimes it might even be you.
I think you need to be skeptical because many people serve their own interests instead of common interests. Sometimes it’s not clear where that line is and sometimes it is (especially about yourself!). Ask, “For whose advantage?” You have to be skeptical of information and determine, as best you can, whether it’s valid. Skepticism is a fundamental value to me, one I try to live into knowing that I sometimes fail.
There are other values that I hold closely too. In no particular order: We are best off when we are free but that our freedom doesn’t willfully come at the expense of other people and our environment. Ignorance is not a technical problem, it’s a fact of humanity that we must cope with. Love of our brothers and sisters must be realized through everything we do. Science is how we learn about the natural world’s workings. But art, philosophy, and religions are expressions of our most inner truths. Policy and politics are deeply imperfect creations and rumblings but when they are good they move us toward love, freedom and interdependence.
If I believe those things, then I must persist in realizing them. That’s what I try to do as a supervisor. I probably fail often. But, as Camus wrote about Sisyphus, “The struggle itself for the heights is enough to fill a man’s [and woman’s!] heart.”