Thornton: Service leadership - paying attention and doing the right thing

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”

Service leadership means getting out there, often times getting dirty, tired, going it alone; to do what is right for others. Empowering others as individuals, groups, and communities to achieve their goals with no gain to self are attributes that make great leaders. There will always be those that sit on the sidelines, complaining, yet never get up the momentum to try for fear of failure, or waiting for others to take the lead. When I decided to run for office, I knew and know that as “the newcomer” my experience in being a state representative could be a bit of a hindrance.

My experience is based on hard work, advocating for, and serving our community through many organizations, and as the Speaker for the Coalition of Student Leaders for 34,000 students across the state and advocating in Juneau for five legislative sessions. During this time a mentor and service leader said, “There are a lot less of us in District 30 than there are students at the university and you have done a great job with that opportunity as the leader of student groups. With many awards and kudos in the past five years” this mentor and many other mentors gave me the impetus to join on the campaign trail. Knowing I was not the incumbent, and would have far less money to spend, yet in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. My goal in this was to give voices to the many in the community that felt as if their voices were unheard. Service leadership has given me the tools to take on the task, these attributes include being down to earth, in touch with our community, and listening with an open mind and heart. I will work hard to protect our Alaska values and educational opportunities, listen and fight for what is right.

Experience has many downfalls, as does the lack of it. Being in the trenches hearing the voices that are not always heard, engaging in your community, cleaning the beach, giving a hand to a group, sharing your talents and building others as leaders, listening and hearing those in the community and moving toward a common goal, is never a wrong choice. Without this one becomes apathetic, and visionless, a drone. While meeting with others in our community remembering while we do not have all the answers and knowing through listening, paying attention and finding common ground we all gain what is most important at our core, our sense of community, belonging and value. We have many experienced leaders not engaged and out of touch, and just sitting on their laurels giving minimal effort and even less in results. The leaders we remember are those that get out there, pay attention, serve their communities, and do the right thing. Protecting the process of democracy does not require anything more than, allowing those with differing beliefs, a voice at the table finding compromises that bring us together as a community. In essence, paying attention and doing the right thing!

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