Isn’t it nice when you figure out what works in your life and what doesn’t? For instance, my husband and I have a wonderful working arrangement … we don’t get in each other’s business. He doesn’t tell me how to write articles. I don’t tell him how to treat patients. It’s worked really well for the better part of 14 years (including through four years of medical school, four plus years of residency and the arrival of three kids) contributing to a loving, harmonious home.
I can’t say that it was always this way early on. In the first few years of our marriage I occasionally would nitpick some of his decisions, thinking somehow I knew what was best for him. But I’ve learned, thankfully, over time, to honor and respect his mind. He may not always make the same choices I’d make … sometimes we agree to disagree. But I’ve come to appreciate the qualities that make us different, and how we complement each other. I trust his ability to make good decisions not because he’s perfect, but because he has a pretty solid track record, because he accepts responsibility for his actions and because I know he seeks guidance in prayer. And he grants me the same privilege … respecting the sanctity of my choices, which is truly liberating. I never feel hounded. What a relief!
I take a similar approach in writing about Governor Palin, a leader whom I’ve long-since chosen to support. Granted, it isn’t a marriage, but the committment often seems to run that deep. Just like with my husband, I’m not going to wake up one morning and decide I’d rather be with Herm Cain. I made my choice after researching Governor Palin’s record and watching her in action over the last three years. Hence, I don’t tell Governor Palin how to conduct campaigns, run bus tours, or manage her media interviews. I think she has a pretty decent history of success in those regards. Would I have done things differently? Who knows? I’ve never run for anything in my life, much less served for 20 years in public life with a record of reforming government at every level.
I believe Governor Palin seeks guidance in prayer. I trust that she weighs her decisions carefully and takes into consideration potential short-and-long-term consequences of her actions. When in doubt, I choose to give her the benefit of the doubt because that’s how I like to be treated … like an adult with a fully functioning cerebral cortex!
Some folks know I wrote a book last year called Advice to Sarah Palin From the Know-It-Alls in which I satirically swiped at both sides of the aisle for their bizarre and seemingly unrelenting attempts to counsel Governor Palin’s career.
Speaking as someone who spent 15 years in business trade journalism doling out hundreds of career “advice” articles, I sadly recognize that much of so-called “advice” isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Even when it’s done well, “advice” often overlooks or underestimates realities that only the actual participants in the decision could know. At worst, “advice” is a subterfuge for control. Do it my way … now!
People who dole out cheap advice usually find a way to avoid responsibility for that advice in the end (as we saw too well with the financial media who completely missed the crushing signs of the credit apocalypse back in 2008 while urging folks to patiently stay in stocks). Advice is easy to give when you have scant skin in the game and can easily change your mind the next day with few consequences. The ones who actually make the decisions bear the full weight of those decisions. And they can’t run away from that weight.
I find it refreshing to support a woman like Governor Palin who has the courage to do it her own way … to tell the pundits and the pollsters and the “know-it-alls” to take a hike. I wish I would have had that kind of courage more often in my life, to boldly act on my convictions and to trust my own hunches. Afterall, I’ve had stockbrokers convince me to stay invested when I sensed I should have cashed out. On another occasion I had a financial advisor warn me not to put all my eggs in one basket when my gut told me to put down $10,000 to buy Google at the initial auction for $85 a share. Shoulda listened to my gut in both cases.
Governor Palin on Tuesday night with Greta van Susteren talked about her unwillingness to be “shackled.” I thought that was really interesting in light of what I believe about the inherent fecklessness of most “advice.” Have you ever been in a relationship where you feel shackled? Maybe it was a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend who nitpicked your every move. I remember dating a guy briefly in college who attempted to micromanage the brand of LOTION I purchased. That just did not work out very well. Maybe it was my libertarian nature emerging even back then. I’ve always been a free spirit and I resist being managed. That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to constructive criticism, logical analysis … and yes, the occasional bit of respectfully-given advice … it’s just that my spirit recoils at being controlled.
I think that’s how most people are. I think that’s how America is. We are designed (and destined to be) a free people: free to make our own choices, free to rise or fall on our own merits, free to live by the results of our decisions, be they good or bad. Free to follow our instincts as “unshackled” people.
Governor Palin obviously is following her own instincts, pursuing a course based on her experience, sound counsel, and judgment. She will no doubt live with the consequences of her decisions as she has throughout her life. She knows what’s at stake. She’s served with honor and integrity in public office. I am just one of many who are perfectly fine with letting everything play out on her timetable. I trust her – with the presidency, with the nuclear codes, and gosh darnit … with her own campaign strategy!
I thought this famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt was apt on this occasion. It applies quite well to Governor Palin and her abundant “critics.” And before anyone says it, yes, Governor Palin may not be an official candidate yet but she is “in the arena” … she never left it.
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 strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; 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.