I’ve spent most of my career pitching, selling, pleading, inspiring, and downright begging people to innovate and fundamentally change the way government works. And I’ve met a lot of resistance. The answers have always been the same. “I don’t have time”, “it’s working fine”, “I don’t want to engage in conflict with my boss or coworkers”, “I need more money”, “I need better technology”, or “it’s too hard”. At Peak Academy, we teach people to study data, to innovate without new resources, to build relationships through honest, direct conversations, and to remain creative, engaged, and hopeful through challenge. Those lessons used to be optional. Today, they are imperative.

Of all the things I know to be true about myself, I know that I was born to be a public servant. From a young age, I felt compelled by an overwhelming urge to spend my life in service to others. I studied history and fell in love with the leaders who chose to forge ahead with the heart and courage that the times required. These remarkable souls were not beautiful, rich, or flawless. They were filled with failures, shortcomings, and fears. But they were also gritty, compassionate, tenacious, and driven by the knowledge that life had asked something of them. And they had one lifetime to deliver.

My leadership philosophy is that each person has a gift. And it is the leader’s job to help unwrap the gifts in others with the same joy and exuberance of a child on Christmas morning. Now is the time that each of us must think long and hard about our gifts and act on what we feel compelled to do with our one and only incredible life.

A fellow local government leader recently told me that she felt inspired to reimagine the future of government. She explained that, in the past, money was thrown at problems and now we “simply can’t do that anymore. We must do better”. Sometimes life takes away options and leaves you at rock bottom, where the only choice is to pick yourself up and do better. I know local government can be better. I’ve always known that. And I am thankful that my life will now be used in more pressing service to this great cause. The tools we need are no longer optional, but the strategy is still the same. We must unearth our gifts and put them to good use. My favorite song lyric comes from U2’s song One and it is simply, “One life, you’ve got to do what you should.”  

Now is the time to unwrap your gifts. To ask yourself what you were put on this earth to do. You now know that you were destined to live in challenging times. Let’s reimagine our lives and our legacies. Let’s reimagine and do better. Let’s save our city.

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