Service is your personal path to progress
Deborah, the office manager of a medical equipment distributor told the Leadership Development Lab:
"I had been very active in our childrenís school, and in the PTA for several years when I learned that no one had filed for an open position on the school board. I immediately felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to become a meaningful part of the future of public education. I was a perfect candidate because of all the time and work I had invested as an active member of the PTA. When I asked my friends and associates to sign the petition for my candidacy, several expressed concerns at my lack of "social standing" in the community. After all, I didnít frequent the same circles as the present board members and Hillsboro seemed to them, to be a very snobbish community in that way. At one point I was nearly convinced to drop the idea. The last thing I wanted was to look foolish, but I forged ahead, turned in the petition and got my name on the ballot.
"It was not easy running for office. Three men ran against me. The local newspaper made it obvious that they thought I was the least able of the candidates. They reviewed all of us, but in the newspaper article, they quoted the men on important issues and me on the more inane subjects, such as playground equipment. It seemed to me that they did everything they could to make me sound stupid and my opponents sound profound.
"Despite of what I felt was a strong bias on the part of the local newspaper, my efforts to reach voters worked and I won
the election. I was honored to spend five years with four other capable, caring people who gave a great deal of their time and energy to the cause of public education. I met some of the most remarkable people in Oregon, including Norma Paulus, who attended the dedication of the new school I had the honor to help build.
"I will never forget the pride I felt as we toured Jackson school for the first time, and I read the plaque with the names of all board members, including mine, in the entryway for everyone to see.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that some endeavors are too important to allow fear of failure to hold me back. It is not only the right, but the obligation of every American to be involved with our local government. This is what our great country was built upon.
"The action I call you to take is get involved! If you think your city council makes stupid decisions... find out why. Get on a committee or run for office. Give some of your special gift back to your community.
"When you do, you will not only feel better about yourself, you will make your community a better place to live."
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