My Ground Rules
October 13, 2006
The big difference between this day and every other Friday I’ve ever experienced is that this one sees the Baylor Bears at 2-0 in the Big XII Conference, one day before they play the only other team that is 2-0 in the Big XII Conference, South Division.
That’s all I’m going to say about that. Nothing good can come from any more being said.
Early voting for the November 7th election starts in only 10 days. We continue to get out and meet with groups all over the district. I’m also doing lots of reading on a variety of issues.
And, occasionally, believe it or not, I get to talk with reporters. I recently gave an interview that focused on how I want to represent this region in the Texas Senate. I intend to approach it the way I’ve always approached public service: with some basic principles that have served me well.
- Be willing to throw away labels. I believe we label each other — whether it’s friends or . . . acquaintances — far too readily. Too often, labels become an excuse not to hear what someone may really think, and to pretend people are a lot more shallow than they really are. My goal is to work with all members of the Senate, without regard to labels. I’m hopeful — with good reason, I think — that they will approach me the same way.
- Listen carefully and speak plainly. The key is to really listen, and to openly state a position. Politics is filled with people talking past one another or regurgitating platitudes. The best work comes from speaking openly, really listening, and avoiding pre-packaged talking points.
- Follow the “84% Rule”. If I can come up with something that 84% of the public would look at and say, “That’s not exactly how I’d do it, but it’s pretty good and it’s progress,” then I’m probably going for it. I know I won’t always get unanimity, and if I wait to act until I get 100% support, there likely will be no action. Also, I try to not demand my concept of perfection. If I can get 84% of what I want, I’ll take it and run. (Why 84%? I made it up. And because that’s what I was reelected mayor with.)
- Be biased toward action. Too often in politics, people seem to fear failure, or the possibility that they’ll be upstaged by the next idea that comes along. I’d rather make a mistake trying something than make a mistake missing an opportunity.
- Never forget that hope matters. Public service should have goals of assuring hope and creating opportunity for happiness.
- Have a short term focus with a long term vision. One of the “gifts” of cancer is that I learned there may not be a tomorrow. So, I try to focus on achieving results right now, but in a way that benefits the long term. Both of those — the moment, and the future — are essential, but too often people lose track of one or the other.
- Know core values and assets, and be willing to admit weaknesses. I try to assess my values, assets, and weaknesses routinely. Clearly, this is a time to take that sort of stock.
- Avoid the nitpickers, naysayers and know-it-alls (okay, so maybe there are a few good labels). We all know those folks who kill good ideas by picking them to death, and who love reminding us how much smarter or holier they are. It isn’t called “negative energy” for nothing.
- Create new and different constituencies, and avoid creating unnecessary enemies. In the first place, even when I disagree with someone, there’s no reason to do it in such a way that they never want to work with me on something we agree about. I also try to look at an idea or policy position from another person’s point of view. It’s worth it when you can tweak a proposal to bring everybody — or, at least, 84% of everybody — on-board.
- Focus on the positive, even in situations that are difficult.
- Don’t take myself too seriously, even when the bull is really good.
- Enjoy the service. Too many people in public service today seem angry. I guess it’s probably easy to get cynical. But, the motivation for service shouldn’t be anger. Service ought to be fulfilling and not a burden (at least not most of the time).
Of course, I fail to achieve any of these at one time or another. But, I try. And, it’s good to remind myself of these principles or goals.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues and addressing so many issues of importance to Texas.
Thanks for supporting me, and don’t forget to vote in a couple of weeks. I hope you’re getting as excited about that as I am.
© 2020 Kirk Watson Texas Senator All Rights Reserved
Political advertisement paid for by Kirk Watson Campaign,
P.O. Box 2004, Austin, TX, 78768; Rosie Mendoza,Treasurer.