The Hard is What Makes it Great

Posted on March 9, 2020

samantha harkins

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Samantha Harkins. Connect on LinkedIn & Twitter!

  • What I’m reading: Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
  • What I’m watching: This is Us. And crying. Every time.  

Being a public servant isn’t easy. I’ll be honest with y’all: it’s been a tough few months in my job. We’ve been scrutinized for having a department director retire after being placed on administrative leave and are working through a budget amendment that will take $7 million from our fund balance.

One of the things I love most about ELGL is promoting joy in public service, but the last few months I’ve had a hard time finding my happy place. 

Sometimes this job feels like a game of whack-a-mole. You knock down one thing to be faced with another. And yes there are happy, wonderful gratifying things as well, but it’s a job of extreme highs and lows. How do I harness the joy when the hits keep on coming?

The last few months have me reflecting a lot on what it means to find joy in public service. We are all doing this because we love our communities and want to make a difference. I absolutely love my city. I can’t imagine not being part of the daily decision-making even when those decisions are really hard.

I’m reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies, A League of Their Own. Tom Hanks, as Coach Jimmy Dugan says, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

The hard is what makes it great. If this job was easy, wouldn’t I be bored? In the midst of the last few weeks of craziness, I’m examining where to find joy:

  1. The Team. I work with the absolute best group of people. Our executive team and team in the Mayor’s office work constantly to serve the people of Lansing. Traditional 9-5 hours mean nothing; we’re always connecting and working together to ensure the work gets done. Working with this team is the best.
  2. The Residents. Sure we all have our challenging residents, but the people in the community generally love and want what’s best for our City. When push comes to shove this is a town of people who support one another. 
  3. Making our Communities Better. That’s why we’re all in this right? To be part of making our community better. I’ve considered other jobs before that would’ve taken me away from Lansing, but this is my home. I am passionate about making my community better, and that makes the hard worth it.

Nobody ever said working in local government was easy. But working with wonderful people for wonderful people in a great community makes it great.

We’re always going to face challenges, but remembering the reasons behind the hard will help us find the joy. And isn’t that ultimately what it’s about?

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