I, for one, know intimately what it is like to fail in a contest which meant the absolute world to me. The pain of a failed democratic contest is like no physical pain known, it gnaws at your gut, your soul, your heat and your values. It eats your very being.
I have found though, that as the sensation of defeat eases, and it does, it is replaced with an immortal inner strength which welds itself to your frame and reinforces it with fortified traits of integrity and resilience. The sensation of conquest is eventually replaced with a sense of calm.
I have been reading the commentary around the recent local government elections and the words from those elected, re-elected, those deposed and those who have failed in their bid for a seat at a table of influence.
There are words of congratulations, commiserations, disappointment and of encouragement. Supporters of those successful are quick to align their views with those of the victor and to offer sagely advice to the vanquished.
Not long after the metaphorical dust settles (unless you live in regional SA, then it is likely to be dusty in the precursor to summer anyway!) people go back to their busy lives and the earth will continue to orbit the sun.
But what of those who have given all of their waking hours to public service or have stopped their ‘normal’ routine in pursuit of election to serve in public office? I salute them. I salute their courage. I salute their commitment to a cause.
I may not share their politics, their opinions, their visions or their religion for that matter, but I do value their bravery in having a go.
Following my unsuccessful Senate campaign, a dear friend offered the following words of encouragement to me, he wrote; “So many talk about running for office but few have the guts or the get up and go, to give it a go. You did - and that says volumes about you and your strength of character. You went from a cold start to 600 people being so impressed with you they got their arse into a box on a Saturday and gave you a tick - out of all the people they could choose - they chose you!
He also shared this quote which has been his companion for more than 35 years.
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. Calvin Coolidge - 30th president of US (1872 - 1933)
I say congratulations to each and every victor and a hearty well-done to those who had a crack and were not successful on this occasion; or were ousted by way of the election process and the inability to reach a quota. Each and every one of you can be proud of a remarkable personal victory.
To those who are now office bearers for the first time or have held onto office, please don’t discount the privilege.
Work hard. Listen. Listen intently to your supporters and to your detractors. Listen to your constituents, your peers, your confidants. Ask questions, seek clarification. Understand their issues and concerns. Trust.
Act with grace, dignity, and integrity and with a sense of purpose. Make difficult decisions. Make important issues popular and continue to make popular issues important.
Consider our precious environment in your decision making, understand that without our environment there is no economy.
Be just in your actions and have faith in your abilities. Learn from errors in judgment, yours and others. Make better choices.
Have a firm handshake, make eye contact. Commit to memory the names of individuals who inspire you.
If you have an important message for someone, put pen to paper, write a hand-written note and post it.
Above all have no regrets. Be glad because you have followed your heart and your head. You only get one chance at this remarkable life and to make a difference.