I’ve written before about public vs private sector jobs or career; and I’ve also shared about the story that we want to craft for ourselves. One of the biggest thing that I would urge all those considering public service to think about is the spirit by which you are serving in. Ultimately, as you enter the service, who are you serving, what are you serving?
Honestly, one of the best perks about being in public service is the claim to some sort of altruism – you’re here to serve the people; you want to help the companies, or the lower income families, or to advance the energy system of the country, etc. And of course, with that perk you will want to be able to take a high view of those in the service. This is perhaps why I think developing and considering the spirit of service is important before and while you are in the service.
Because bureaucracy can be self-serving, or serving the status quo. Because when you want to be fair and good to everyone you might end up having to withhold from everyone. And because when you develop measures to try and capture the intangibles, you can end up either giving up or maximising the metric rather than the genuine outcome. And when you get disappointed, the environment can conspire to make you think you cannot change things. These are hard truths, and the reality is not that close to the claims of altruism.
In the toughest of situation, it is the spirit of service that will keep you there and hold you accountable. When you’re tempted to maximise your career rather than uphold the interest of public. When it is all on you to call out selfish leaders. When political interest seem to overwrite public interest. These are times when you look back at the spirit of service and carry on. So be sure you’ve the right spirit to serve before you join.