Community leadership in an election year

Leadership is not a spectator sport, nor is citizenship. Let’s lead the way. Connect. Listen. Act.

By Kathy Coffey / Leadership Snohomish County

With January well behind us, we may feel a sense now of finally settling in to the new year and new decade. Perhaps you’ve set some intentions for the year. Have you lost 10 pounds yet? Working out three times a day? I am still striving to walk the dog on a regular basis. Many of us are determined to take better care of our mental and physical health, or our relationships, or our finances.

As I shared in our most recent Leadership Snohomish County newsletter, I’m continuing to actively recognize the importance of connection and to nurture connection in five specific ways. One is especially relevant in this election year: connection to a larger purpose.

Find your gifts. Share your gifts. Realize your purpose. We know that the why matters. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day details and lose the connection to the larger purpose, but research shows that finding and living your purpose supports healthy outcomes on every level.

Connection to your higher purpose might help you take up hard work in service of your values.

It may boost your bravery to act and speak.

“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.” ―Theodore Roosevelt

Leadership itself is truly a non-partisan platform. The significance of that in today’s world is monumental. If we are all leaders on some level, it seems we could do a better job of meeting on a platform of compassion. So many leaders ground themselves in opinions, stances, and labels. They forget that they have the complete privilege to show up as a leader and listen. Listen.

Leadership is not a spectator sport, nor is citizenship. Let’s not pretend that the issues are too difficult and too divisive to talk about. Instead, let’s lead the way. Connect. Listen. Act.

Let’s talk about the importance of voting. Let’s share our opinions, and listen to others who agree and disagree. Let’s share resources. Let’s encourage others to use their voice on the ballot and in the community, too.

Committing to vote also means taking time to learn about all the candidates and the issues. Our Sno-Isle Libraries offer many resources, including information about voter eligibility and registration.

Let’s do this. Let’s start now.

Kathy Coffey is executive director of Leadership Snohomish County, the local organization that connects, ignites and develops leaders to strengthen our communities. To learn more about Leadership Snohomish County, visit

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