Winning the Political Game: Choose your Battles Carefully

People who are attracted to public service tend to be idealistic and want to "save the world." They read the newspaper, see all sorts of injustices and problems, and say, "I could do something about that!" They want to stick their noses into every controversy and solve every problem.

Seasoned and successful policymakers, however, have learned that taking on every problem is a sure way to fail. You just don't have the capacity, especially if you’re a part-time politician, to right every wrong and leap into every controversy that comes along. They key is picking one or two issues that you feel most passionately about, where you can really have an impact, and that are within your jurisdiction or purview. Focus on them, do a great job with them, and resist the temptation to be charging off in a hundred directions.

In other words, choose your battles carefully. You must of course, deal with a wide variety of issues if you belong to an elected body. But don't be drawn into so many issues and controversies that you can't be effective with them. One of the hardest things to do is to say no. You see injustices and problems and you want to take them on. Resist the urge to do so, except for your top priorities.

Leadership Tip: Humility and Power

"Really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not in them, but through them. Therefore, they are humble."

– John Ruskin

"The exercise of power requires an especially sharp and sensitive conscience."

– Neal A. Maxwell