October 2019’s Leadership Principle: Showing Up


By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications



Our own Ann Richardson’s brother has a story he tells about talking to former Wisconsin Governor Mike Sullivan.  He one asked Sullivan what the key was to staying in office and keeping constituents happy.  The answer?  “Show up”.

It sounds simple.  But it can be taken so many different ways.  Sure, a leader needs to show up when policy is being made.  They also need to show up for regular meetings.  But how does that score with voters?  How does that endear anyone to their side?

Truth is, all of us as leaders need to show up in our communities.  We need to be present at the cookouts, the festivals, the book clubs.  We need to engage our neighbors, elected officials, co-workers.  Perhaps most importantly, we need to show up and vote.

We all saw what happened in the election last November.  It was the wake up call to remind us not to be complacent.  Nobody else is going to shop up at the polls to do our work for us.

This November, I’m hoping all of us will remember to show up, both at the polls and in our communities.

As they say, “history is made by those that show up”.

September 2019’s Leadership Principle: Perseverance


By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications



I have recently been reading a lot of books about the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln.  I’ve read about how he kept persevering when he wasn’t permitted a formal education.  I’ve read about how he continued persevering when his bid for President was deemed a long-shot.  And of course I’ve read about how he had no other way but to persevere throughout the dark days of the Civil War.

We all know those stories.

But I think the most moving of all were the stories shared in a book called Lincoln’s Melancholy.  Did you know that Lincoln struggled all his life with depression?  I didn’t.  He would never carry a pocket knife like most men of his time did, because he was afraid he’d take his own life with it.  His friends put him on suicide watch once in his twenties and took away his razor.  Suicide watch wasn’t really a thing in the 1800s.  It would have been extraordinary for someone to be on a watch like that.  That says a lot about the depths his depression took him to… but he persevered.

All those things I spoke of before: the long-shot bid for President, the dark days of the Civil War, not to mention the very public mourning of the deaths of his sons…he had to conquer all of it, all the while grappling with his own depression.

We tend to judge leaders by the great things they do, the ways they persevered publicly.  But perhaps we should recall that our leaders are human too, and that the biggest obstacles they must overcome are the personal ones that perhaps nobody ever sees.

August 2019’s Leadership Principle: Forbearance


By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications



Forbearance isn’t a word you hear too often.  The dictionary defines it at “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance”.  Its synonyms include “abstinence” and “tolerance”.  In other words, “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em”.

My mother used to always tell me not to talk about politics with people, because people get so passionate that it can ruin friendships.  I think we’ve all felt so strongly on something that we want to scream it at anybody we can find and make them listen.  But think of national figures who do that.  How successful are they in swaying others to their side?

Not very.

It’s about as effective as yelling at someone to “calm down”.

To be able to affect change, whether in a society, in a group, or with an individual, you need to know when to hold back your every thought and instead, try to understand where the other person is coming from.  We can never convince someone that our way is the true path if all we do is attack, but by practicing forbearance, we demonstrate our reasonableness and our respect for the person we’re speaking to, and that person is more likely to respect our opinions so we can find some common ground.

Over the next month, take a look at how you demonstrate your opinions, whether face to face or on social media.  Are you practicing forbearance and being persuasive, or are you yelling “calm down” in an echo chamber of your own making?

July 2019’s Leadership Principle: Authenticity


By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications



When you were a kid and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what was your answer?

For me, it was Madonna.  I wanted to be Madonna.  Sometimes it would change: a veterinarian, a lawyer, a Broadway  performer.  No matter what I imagined myself to be though, it always had that dream-like essence: a feeling it would never quite be within reach.  If somebody had said I was going to move halfway across the country and become a small-town city council member, it would have felt just as unreachable as being Madonna.

The thing is, we are not born as politicians.  And someday, when we leave this earth, we will not leave it as politicians.  Being a politician is just a season in our lives: the same as being a high school student; a newlywed; and if we’re lucky enough, a senior citizen.  One season may be how some people remember us, but it is not what defines us.

What truly defines us is what we are, and that’s where this month’s principle comes in: authenticity.

The definition of authenticity

Who are you and what string of authenticity runs through your life?  What is it that people can always count on you for?  Are you honest?  Do you admit when you’re wrong?  Do you say what you’ll do and do what you’ll say?

For me, the strings of authenticity that run through my life include being honest about what I believe, even if it makes me unpopular; letting people close to me know where we stand, even if that threatens to hurt our friendship; being able to admit when I’ve erred, but always being able to know that  I erred with good intentions; and always being available to friends, and protecting them fiercely.

Someday, this season of your life will come to a close.  At the end of your days, what will be in your eulogy?  It won’t be “they were great at politics”.  If we’re lucky, it will be “I could always count on them”.

The definition of authenticity

April 2019’s Leadership Principle: Bravery


By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications



I’ve never been a fan of the term “fearless leader”.  It implies that there’s something inherently wrong with feeling fear.  Some of America’s greatest moments and the actions performed by people we collectively deem heroes, involved instances where certainly, people possessed fear.

I think “brave leader” is a more appropriate choice.  Bravery is not the absence of fear.  Bravery is facing your fear full-on, standing up against it, and taking an action.

Sometimes bravery is demonstrated on a battlefield, or running in to a fire, or toward danger.  Sometimes bravery is merely stepping out of your comfort zone, knocking on a door, speaking to a stranger.

In politics, bravery is frequently demonstrated by taking a stand for what you believe in.  It takes the form of showing up to a meeting after the media has maligned your group, or it can be openly defying some in your inner circle and challenging their beliefs.

If not for the brave actions of those in politics, the United States would never evolve.  It’s taken political bravery to create The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and each of our Constitutional amendments.  Every one of those began with someone who decided to take a risk, voice their opinion, and in time, persuade others to go along.