Reflecting back on lessons learned during my first year on the Novato City Council.
It is hard to believe that an entire year has gone by since I was elected to the Novato City Council. It is still such a great privilege and responsibility to serve the community. Reflecting back on the past year, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned in my short time on the council. Rather than attempt to list every lesson learned, I decided to narrow it down to the 5 that resonate the most:
Disagreements are public, not personal – On the council, not only are our disagreements public, but they are even televised—that is the nature of the position and having open and public meetings. No disagreement with another council member is ever personal though and at the end of the day, I am fortunate to serve alongside 4 other individuals who share a common commitment and dedication to the city of Novato.
I can’t make everyone happy – In politics, trying to make everyone happy ultimately ends with nobody being happy. Herbert Bayard Swope said, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: which is: Try to please everybody”. I might not make everyone happy, but I can commit to thoroughly reviewing all sides of every issue and to clearly communicate how and why I reach certain decisions. The outcome might not always be preferable, but the process should be respectable.
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses – This is a rather common saying, but have you ever really thought about it? A few months ago, I was talking to my neighbor about balancing council, work, and family and he reminded me to make sure to smell the roses. It is easy to become so busy in life or fixated on an issue that we forget to really enjoy life. While there is plenty of work to be done in Novato, we should all start by enjoying what Novato has to offer and why we have chosen to call this place home.
I still have a lot to learn – It is somewhat of a paradox, but sometimes the greatest lesson learned is that one has yet to learn anything. I have committed myself to be lifelong learner and continually seek ways to improve in the years to come.
- Listening and hearing are very different things – We call them “Public Hearings”, but the only way to really make an informed decision is to intently listen to both sides to really understand the issues at hand. Hearing someone out is easy, but listening takes action, patience, and an open mind.
Although I have grown up in Novato, I continue to discover new things everyday. From engaging with residents and attending community gatherings to studying council packets and learning how to correctly pronounce “Rowland”, I have truly enjoyed my first year on the council. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve and wishing everyone the best in 2013.
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