Yesterday I came across a talk recently given by President Clinton at Georgetown University. It is part of a series he will be doing on advice for a life in public service. I listened to this talk mainly because I am starting to re-imagine my public service career and I am unsure whether or not government is the right fit for me. I think President Clinton offered many great pieces of advice, and I encourage others to listen for themselves. Personally, the following points were most impactful:
“It is foolish to spend one day of your life wishing you can do something you can no longer do…sometimes it is important to re-imagine the tasks you are involved with.”
President Clinton was discussing how he responds to questions on whether he misses being president. However, what good is it to dwell on parts of your life that are over or you can no longer do. Instead, we should be constantly considering how to make the most out of our present roles (and present budgets) to be our most productive (and generate the largest benefit for the public).
“21st Century citizenship requires every thoughtful person to try to do some public good even if they are in private life”
It was right around this point in the talk that I stumbled upon Jeffery Levy’s post Why in the World Am I Still in Gov’t and these two things got me thinking. I’m still trying to decide if a career in public service is right for me, but no matter what, I know I want to do something that benefits the public good in my career and my private life.
Lastly, President Clinton listed the following four requirements to “Take service seriously:
- You should be obsessively interested in people…especially those that are different from you.
- Care about principles—the purpose of service
- What are the policies that will advance those principles?
- What are the politics of the situation? How are you going to turn your good intentions into changes?
I think this is good advice that we can all learn from—whether we’re in the public, non-profit, or private sector trying to contribute towards the public good.