We’re all familiar with Governor Palin’s oft-repeated phrase, “You don’t need a title to make a difference.”
It makes some folks really nervous, in fact, that the Governor won’t run. I don’t think that’s the case at all. But more on that later.
She has used this phrase frequently in interviews regarding her current role in politics, and it has become a call to action for many ordinary barbarians, folks like Peter Singleton, Karen Allen and others who have stepped up to fill a need without being given an official position to compel their efforts.
In fact, the principle of making a difference without a title undergirds the entire Tea Party movement that is comprised of ordinary citizens who have risen up to do extraordinary things the last two years, without official sanction or invitation from a party machine or government body. And it is a philosophy that sustains a nation of free, sovereign individuals where all power is vested in the people.
But many people perhaps don’t realize the Governor most likely adapted this phrase from a 2006 book called, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader.
In an email to Frank Bailey who was disgruntled (even back then) at not being given a different position within her adminstration, Governor Palin wrote:
“I am reading a book right now called “You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader” and it can explain much better than I the principle that I’m trying to get across re: a person’s ability to make a difference where you are today.”
Hmmm … Making a difference where you are today … instead of becoming disgruntled about where you THINK you should be. More on that later.
Here is more about that book:
In his inspiring new book, “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader,” Mark Sanborn, the author of the national bestseller “The Fred Factor,” shows how each of us can be a leader in our daily lives and make a positive difference, whatever our title or position.”
“Through the stories of a number of unsung heroes, Sanborn reveals the keys each one of us can use to improve our organizations and enhance our careers.
Genuine leadership – leadership with a “little “l,”” as he puts it, is not conferred by a title, or limited to the executive suite. Rather, it is shown through our everyday actions and the way we influence the lives of those around us. Among the qualities that genuine leaders share:
– Acting with purpose rather than getting bogged down by mindless activity
– Caring about and listening to others
– Looking for ways to encourage the contributions and development of others rather than focusing solely on personal achievements
– Creating a legacy of accomplishment and contribution in everything they do
It’s quite clear Governor Palin incorporated these principles into her leadership, while serving as Governor.
Acting with purpose rather than getting bogged down by mindless activity
Governor Palin and her team worked 15-hour days to make the natural gas line negotiations that had eluded Alaskans for decades a reality.
Caring about and listening to others
It’s impossible to read through any of the 24,000 emails, or to watch The Undefeated without gaining an appreciation for how well the Governor works with her team, bringing in divergent viewpoints and forging consensus around shared principles.
Looking for ways to encourage the contributions and development of others rather than focusing solely on personal achievements
Governor Palin has encouraged people in the Tea Party movement and Organize4Palin, praising them for their efforts. In her most recent impromptu speech in Pella, she used the word “I” just three times in 1118 words. (Compare this with the 45 times Obama said “I” in his presidential announcement speech of 2583 words.)
Creating a legacy of accomplishment and contribution in everything they do
Everywhere Governor Palin has gone, she has created better conditions, whether it was her hometown gaining needed infrastructure and becoming one of the fastest growing communities in Alaska, or her state, which she guided to a $12 billion surplus thanks to visionary leadership on tax policy and fiscal prudence.
It’s time to make a key point. Governor Palin knows how to wield power, and she knows that true power is a function of character, not something you can just lift from a title on a business card.
We know that she knows how to wield power not only from her record, but from the inspiring statements she made in her VP announcement speech in Dayton. For all those who are doubting right now, please read this and picture these comments framing a future presidential announcement:
Some of life’s greatest opportunities come unexpectedly, and this is certainly the case today. I never really set out to be involved in public affairs, much less to run for this office. My mom and dad both worked at the local elementary school. And my husband and I, we both grew up working with our hands.
I was just your average “hockey mom” in Alaska. We were busy raising our kids. I was serving as the team mom and coaching some basketball on the side. I got involved in the PTA and then was elected to the City Council and then elected mayor of my hometown, where my agenda was to stop wasteful spending and cut property taxes and put the people first.
I was then appointed ethics commissioner and chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and when I found corruption there, I fought it hard and I held the offenders to account. Along with fellow reformers in the great state of Alaska, as governor, I’ve stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the Big Oil companies and the “good old boy” network.
When oil and gas prices went up so dramatically and the state revenues followed with that increase, I sent a large share of that revenue directly back to the people of Alaska — and we are now — we’re now embarking on a $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.
I signed major ethics reforms, and I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I’ve championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that “bridge to nowhere.” If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we’d build it ourselves.
Well, it’s always, though, safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn’t get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built. Politics isn’t just a game of competing interests and clashing parties. The people of America expect us to seek public office and to serve for the right reasons. And the right reason is to challenge the status quo and to serve the common good.
Now, no one expects us to agree on everything, whether in Juneau or in Washington. But we are expected to govern with integrity and goodwill and clear convictions and a servant’s heart.
When Governor Palin says, “You don’t need a title to make a difference,” it is simply her governing philosophy that leaders are no better than those they serve, and that a person’s character determines their influence, not a title. She believes people should grow into positions of power because they are committed to the right things. She is not preparing us for the possibility that she won’t run. She is encouraging us to get involved on our own in a good cause.
I feel confident that she is perhaps out enjoying a beautiful Alaska summer day … and calmly, patiently waiting to announce her next venture to serve the common good.
Are we ready to step up and lead with her?