Rather than a piece by me to begin this Leadership Memo, I’ve decided to run a “guest editorial” by my friend and fellow Leadership Institute Board member Mike Rothfeld.
Mike took LI training 28 years ago and has had a successful career as a political activist, a campaign consultant, a direct marketing consultant, and a conservative organizational entrepreneur. He frequently serves as a volunteer faculty member at Leadership Institute training schools and runs good training schools through one of his own, separate organizations, Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership.
He sent the below piece as an email to graduates of his own training, and I believe all principled LI graduates would benefit from reading his advice.
No, you may not just quit
By Mike Rothfeld
This email is only for folks who are in a position of leadership and/or responsibility, or intend to be in such a position one day.
If you are not in either group, you may stop reading ... and ask yourself why you are on this list.
Now, before I go further, I want to make something clear: The title does not apply to you if you are quitting because of a serious health issue, a crisis within your family or to maintain those who depend upon you financially.
Your health, family and finances come before activism.
This is not only proper, it is prudent.
Activists who fail to keep their priorities straight destroy themselves or their family, or burnout, or all three.
With that out of the way, let me re-state the title -- NO, YOU MAY NOT JUST QUIT.
It does not matter that folks were mean to you (e.g. 2012 RNC Convention from beginning to end), cheated at the meeting (e.g. RNC Convention on the floor over Rules, Credentials and Roll Call), beat you in an unfair fight (e.g. 2012 RNC Convention in Credentials Committee), beat you in a fair fight (e.g. RNC Convention in Rules Committee [not counting the bus hijacking]) or ... anything.
I do not care.
People Look to You for Hope
There is no way around the fact that trying to defend and restore liberty and life is slow, hard and all-too-often heartbreaking work.
You often will lose, fairly and unfairly.
Even when you win, it often will seem pyrrhic or incomplete.
And there is always another fight, another project and another assault to be handled.
And so when you feel that powerful desire to chuck it all (and you WILL, probably over-and-over -- I sure have, as has virtually every one of my peers), consider how those around you probably feel. And they probably do not have your passion, vision, determination or training.
If you quit, most of them will too.
And if you quit from a position of responsibility or leadership that they promoted or supported you for, you will add treachery to your achievements.
And You Don't Get to Reject Your Training Either
Now, in the dark times, even if you will not quit, you will face another, similar, temptation -- to switch trains.
You know your training, and why you are doing what you are doing.
You know why you should not waste time with 3rd parties, initiative and referenda, toothless resolutions and fantastical fix-it-all-in-one-move schemes (like a Limited Constitutional Convention).
But suddenly, when the hard, correct path looms thick with obstacles and enemies, these softer, sillier approaches will lure you again.
And they will sweeten their poison with this whisper "you are not quitting or selling out, you are just changing trains."
And it is a lie.
You are quitting.
So What Do I Do When it Just Feels Like Crap?
I am not going to insult you by saying "suck it up."
Mostly folks who never really have been tested spout that advice.
It may work for a few people, and it may work for you sometimes.
But I think it likely that, sooner or later, it will not be enough.
So I will give you the best advice I have heard; advice I have taken a number of times.
It comes from Dr. Tony Evans, a well-known and respected (and loud) evangelical preacher out of Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Evans was addressing Christians who were called by God to a particular work and were doubting they were still called to it. Although Dr. Evans was teaching Christians doing explicitly Christian work, his advice is clear.
Dr. Evans said, "Continue doing what you knew you were clearly called to do until God clearly calls you to do something else."
This means you trudge forward in the work you are doing (and it may take every ounce of will to take each step for a long period of time), unless there is concrete proof you must do something else.
And, most of the time, you will find that there is nothing else; the dark period fades and the clarity, hope and, yes, even joy that brought you into the fight returns.
James 1, 2-4: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Peace and ...
Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership
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