Given the stereotypes that many attribute to government workers, you may think that “love” and “urban planning” would be words that you’d never find in the same sentence.
John recently received the Planner of the Year award from the Oregon chapter of the American Planning Association, and his acceptance speech is a primer for Extreme Leadership in service of the public.
What if John’s words are a harbinger of a future model of the stereotypical public servant?
Imagine the implications.
Here is an excerpt from his remarks:
“I can think of no better reason for me to accept this award than to understand the work I do is focused on the concepts expressed in this adage from The Radical Leap: do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.
“The phrase has three distinct parts. The first, do what you love, is at the core of our profession for we all made the conscience choice to seek an education and pursue a career in urban planning, not because of the high pay, the easy riches, the ease of the task, the fun of the work; far from it.
“We did it for the love. We did it, and do it, because we love what we do. It gives us meaning, purpose, optimism, hope, and perhaps, a sense of noble cause. We stick with it even in times of great chaos and angst and strife because we love something much bigger than us.
“We love a hope of a better future for our communities, our society, even our world. We are doing what we love.
“The third part I’ll discuss next, of people who love what you do. We must never interpret these words as accolades for our processes or products. We must never think a person loves what we do as they might love the sculpture a fine artist creates. Rather, they love us because of what we do to allow them to create something they love.[Tweet “”Service to others is the foundation not only of our work, but of any nobility we earn.””]
“We are but a vehicle, a catalyst, a teacher, a facilitator, a builder of frameworks, an enabler. We are totally focused on helping people perceive, define, and create a future they love. We do not do it for them. We help them do it themselves -creating something they love.
“We help create courage to change, create, transform, fight if necessary, and to believe. Those who love what we do, are really loving what they do themselves, and they acknowledge through love that, but for us, it could not have come to pass.
“We come last to the middle part of the phrase, in the service. We must always remember that none of this is about us. It is about those we serve.
“It is about the communities of purpose and place who entrust us to help guide them in creating the future. It is about the individuals, the families, the teams we serve with our professional work, lives, and love.
“It is not about us; it is about them and always will be. Being rooted in that service to others is the foundation not only of our work, but of any nobility we earn.
“I try every day to be purposefully mindful of doing what I love in the service of people who love what I do. Perhaps it took many years to understand that purpose and calling in life. Perhaps that created the environment in which my work was recognized by this award for which I am extremely grateful.
“I do know that I have faced a myriad of excruciating challenges along this path, but courage to face them is always rooted in my gratitude for being able to work in this noble cause, and in my love for what I do, for what we do, and for what we are about.”