Now that we have been back from Washington DC for a few days, I began reflecting on the amazing opportunities we had, and the many things I learned about the world of politics. We were given a lot of advice on how to “make it” in DC. As someone who is not planning on going to DC right away after I graduate in the spring, I began to think about ways that I could still apply what we learned to be successful in any other field or future profession. There were so many things that I discovered were applicable concepts, although two concepts really stood out to me. These two really made me think about how they could serve people well in any workplace, and likely help them to excel and be successful in working well with other people. Lara Brown, the Director, Graduate School of Political Management, at George Washington University, explained to Washington Center students her leadership model. Brown applied it to politics, and specifically women in politics, although it is a model that can be highly applicable to any professional field. Her leadership model included the three C’s. They are curiosity, courage, and compassion. Curiosity, specifically resonated with me, as it is not always a trait that you immediately think of when describing an effective leader. Thinking about it more, having curiosity as a leader is so important, as it leads to lifelong learning. This lifelong learning allows a leader to constantly be thinking about greater innovations or changes for the group they are leading, and that inspires a certain level of inspiration and drives others to work hard. Although courage and compassion are important qualities for a leader to have, applying curiosity and really pushing oneself to be curious, I believe leads to a special and innovated kind of leader that is able to adapt to changing times.
One of the most valuable lessons I think I learned comes back to a part of the focus on the seminar, and that is bipartisan politics. A theme that was consistently reiterated during the morning lectures and afternoon site visits was that bipartisan politics can only be accomplished if both sides are willing to listen to each other and understand where the other side’s opinions are coming from. This can extend so much further though than just politics and can apply to your everyday life. Taking an extra 10 minutes to ask someone why they believe what they do and understand more about their background truly can go a long way and lead to a greater breadth of cultural knowledge and understanding.