Recently, Tom Chase, a good friend and the director of the Denver Human Services process improvement team, recommended the book Life is Good: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride by Bert and John Jacobs. I’ve always admired Tom for his kindness. Tom asks about work last. First he’ll ask about books, travel adventures, or family. He is gracious, thoughtful, and genuine. So I pay close attention to his recommendations.
The book is written by the brothers who founded the clothing company Life is Good. It’s published by National Geographic and features much of the company’s original artwork. The brothers outline the 10 superpowers they argue are the key ingredients to discovering the true meaning of success: Openness, courage, simplicity, humor, gratitude, fun, compassion, creativity, authenticity, and love.
They open with the quote, “Life is not easy. Life is not perfect. Life is good.”
I read that quote several times and let it sink in. Tom works in Human Services. He sees citizens on their worst days, in their hardest moments. Of all the branches of government, local government is closest to the community. We don’t imagine hardships the community might endure, we live them. We’re too close to be theoretical. Too close to pontificate and debate. And, at times, too close to feel optimism.
But of all the things I’ve learned while working for local government, it is that each of us, in our own way, wants to do good. We get carried away in our conflicts, our egos, our perceived differences, our fear of change, our comfort zone. But we all want to do something good. To contribute.
Bert and John Jacobs wrote, “Joy doesn’t come from your circumstances. It comes from your disposition.” Denver has boomed, the world is changing, and it’s hard to ignore stress and tension in the community. But in 2017, I hope that all of us are known for the joy we brought to each other, to our community, and to the profession of public service. I hope that we can all be admired for our kindness.
One of the things we teach in Peak Academy is to focus on improving what is in your control. It’s a lesson in reality but also a lesson in empowerment because we each control something. And what we control matters to someone. We also teach focusing on your customer because we are in the business of service. And we know that people who focus on what they can do to make something better for someone else will actually experience the most joy. So we will continue to share stories of all the people who make Denver better. Because it’s 2017 and life is good.