Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published nearly 30 years, attaining a readership in the tens of millions. Depending on your opinion of self-help books and Mr. Covey's work, you may or may not have read this book and you may or may not have have been affected by it. But one of its foundational tenets rings true and is a lens through which we can view the politicians that are effective and those that are not. And Niagara has some excellent examples of both.
The Abundance Mentality vs. The Scarcity Mentality
To paraphrase Covey's work slightly, there are two contrasting mentalities one can adopt: the abundance mentality and the scarcity mentality.
The latter views situations as zero-sum games with winners and losers. The goal of the scarcity mentality is to "come out on top". It sees situations through a lens of competition.
On the other hand, the abundance mentality rejects this competition as unnecessary and destructive. Successes of others do not diminish or threaten the success of others. It sees situations through a lens of cooperation.
It does not take a long look to determine which of Niagara's politicians have adopted which mentality. A certain group, or cabal (if you will), have outlined a political philosophy that expressly looks to their own, individual, benefit. We see it in everything from outrageous expenses, to patronage appointments, to backscratching backroom dealings. What can I take from this situation? How can I "come out on top"? Who do I need to smear, attach and drag down to achieve success for my self?
The few who have adopted the abundance mentality are asking near opposite questions. How does the community benefit from this situation? How do we come out on top? Who are the partners I need to seek out? This is the group that is achieving success for Niagara, that is trying to fight back against the regressive policies of the cabal and who practice the same honesty, integrity and accountability that citizens should expect from politicians.
We need to grow that group in October 2018. If you're considering running for political office, or know someone who is, implement these 3 habits of highly effective local politicians and help us create a better Niagara.
Habit 1: Practice, Don't Just Preach, Integrity
Integrity has been notable in its absence recently in Niagara. Yes, the tangible office of Integrity Commissioner has been routinely dismissed or ignored, but, more importantly, the principle in integrity has been severely wanting in most of our politicians. That means that come 2018 you're likely to hear a lot about "integrity". What we should be focused on are those who have shown integrity, not those who will surely have faux eureka moments about its import in the months to come. If you're going to be a candidate, how will you show integrity?
If you're going to be a candidate, how will you show integrity? A good start is to consider what your morals and ethics are and how your campaign will reflect these values through your actions, communications and policy proposals. Are you willing to stick to your values, even in situations that it may benefit you to abandon them? Local political history in Niagara has shown us time and time again is that those who campaign unethically rarely change their stripes once in positions of power.
Habit 2: Engage Your Community With An Open Mind
"Representative" too often loses its meaning when it follows "elected". Politicians are intended, in democracy, to represent the interests of their constituents. Unfortunately, many politicians forget this and consider themselves only representative of themselves and their particular ideology. This, perhaps, is part of the reason we see such low voter and community engagement in local politics, despite its importance.
There are others, too, who will pay a sort of lip service to representation. They can be seen engaging the community in public or through digital communications, but their opinions, positions and votes on a subject will rarely change. They are, they feel, still beholden only to themselves and their interests or beliefs, even if it they take seemingly take time to engage some of their constituents.
This is why this engagement needs to not only happen but happen with an open mind. The future candidates who will have the ability to truly make Niagara a better place are those who can bring unique compassion, skill and insight to an issue they have engaged people widely in, not the hardline partisans or the self-assured egotists. Consider how you will implement these actions in the build up to your campaign and during it. It will set you up to be a brilliant politician.
Habit 3: Support Others
Running for political office, and being a politician, might seem like it requires a big ego. But what is really necessary is confidence. Confidence in your ability to make positive change and confidence in your character to withstand the difficulties of running and holding office. Where this confidence really needs to show most though is in your ability to support others. Find out what communities need your support. Find other politicians or candidates that you respect and can aid. Give a voice to an issue, cause or policy that needs more attention. By practising support, you will be well-positioned to act for the benefit of the greater good without succumbing to the temptation of your ego. And this is exactly the type of people Niagara need in positions of political power now.
The A Better Niagara coalition is made up of a group of citizens with diverse political and professional backgrounds. We have come together to support better policies and better politicians in Niagara. If you're thinking of becoming politically active in any capacity and support our belief in the benefit of progressive policies, please reach out and contact us today. Our members have a great of experience in political campaigns of all kinds and would like to help you if we cna.