How do you get your voice heard?

I’m sure there were some people who believed Donald Trump would win on November 8. But I’d venture to guess that the vast majority, including Trump himself, did not expect to win.  Yet here we are watching President Obama talking about the transfer of power to President elect Trump.

run for office or school board

Former client, Stacey Sundquist, ran for her local school board two years ago when she was concerned about the decisions being made with her kids’ school. One of the best parts she says is how proud her kids are of her and the example she is setting for them.

So now what? Well, I certainly have seen a lot of commenting on social media. Some of it insightful and thought provoking. Unfortunately, a lot of it has been negative, hurtful and does nothing to move us forward. That is why I want to propose a solution to everyone who is wondering what they can do. It’s simple.

Run for office. Yes…you. Run for office.

Frustrated by our “do nothing” Congress? Run for Congress. Angry about what might happen to minorities in our community. Run for your state legislature. Worried about education and equity issues? Run for your local school board. Care about our environment? Get appointed to your local Parks and Rec Board.

We heard a lot this Presidential season that the choice was between the “lesser of two evils”.  It can be really easy to sit back in judgement of others who are putting themselves out there.



President Teddy Roosevelt’s quote from 1910 could not be more relevant in 2016 (except we can replace “man” with “individual”:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; … who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Teddy Roosevelt, From the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”, delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

Dare greatly – run for office

Can you “dare greatly” and run for office? People ask how Trump could have won. He won because he ran. And you can win too. We need good people on all sides of the aisle to get involved and take a stand whether it’s Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or some other third party. Good people make good government.

Public service is an honorable thing. It’s taken a beating over the years but we have to remember that in order for our democracy to survive, we have to inherently believe that the system works when good people choose to step up and engage for the right reasons. For many years I worked on political campaigns and watched the sacrifices candidates and their families made in order for them to run. I’ve been on the side of losing elections where we gave it all we had and still came up short on Election Day.  The good, the bad and the ugly are part of the journey. But in the end, public service is truly rewarding.

I’m not trying to dismiss the activism, volunteering and other ways people are trying to get involved. But if you really are trying to make a difference for your community, serving in public office is a great way to answer the concerns that have emerged since last Tuesday’s election.

There are many resources to help you explore running for office and organizations that can help you with your campaign. You can contact your local party directly. (local and state parties are always looking for good people to run for office) There are also organizations that help different populations with candidate training. is an organization that provides training for candidates and their staff who have more of a progressive bent. The Women’s Campaign Fund is a national organization supporting women running for office. Explore online and in your community to find ones that can help you navigate this territory.

Finally, there are great role models out there of people serving in office from the local level to the national level. Want some inspiration? Here are six women who made history last Tuesday including a former refugee right here in my hometown in Minnesota who is the first Somali-American legislator.

And whether you are a fan of Hillary or not, no one can say that she did not dare greatly putting herself in the arena for more than thirty years. She was knocked down over and over again and still got back up. Even Trump in the second debate acknowledged that she’s a fighter who doesn’t quit. So if you’re struggling with this election, think about putting yourself in the arena of public service. What have you got to gain?

Reach out if you want to talk this through with me. I worked in politics and government for many years before I became a professional coach and I still do candidate training in Minnesota. Sometimes you just need to hear that you can do it. I’m here to tell you – you can.
Click here to set up a time to talk at

Pin It on Pinterest