Speaking Truth to Power
With experience, I was usually able to visualize the eventual outcome from the initial circumstances, much like a sculptor can visualize a finished statue from the uncarved rock. Over time, I learned to see my work from the broadest possible perspective, and I was often able to speak truth to power.
Most of our clients were capable and credible public servants, but there were some ill-equipped staff members or disengaged managers or short-sighted politicians that displayed bad judgment, which was often worsened by corrupting influences or personal differences or political considerations.
Sometimes, these clients had conflicting goals, misguided goals, or no goals at all, so I had to choose between “just following orders” or serving a higher purpose, which could mean delivering tough messages to the staff members or managers or politicians who relied on me for my best advice.
Often, looking from the broadest possible perspective, I would encourage people to "do the right thing for the deal," which was almost always a higher purpose than doing the right thing for me or the client or their constituents, and I would remind them that there was no benefit in not doing the right thing.
Now, this is a slippery slope, when you challenge the people in authority, in the interest of someone or something higher, like “the people who will be in authority in the future” or “the citizens who are not in the room, who are being ignored by the people in authority.”
So, if you are committed to serving a higher purpose, rather than just following the path of least resistance or just going through the motions, then you must be humble and respectful, and you must never be malicious or self-serving.
When you speak truth to power, you can educate the ill-equipped, engage the disengaged, and expand the short-sighted, and you can even overcome corrupting influences, personal differences and political considerations.
Once they realized what I was doing and why I was doing it, most clients thanked me for caring so much about them and fighting so hard for them.
Most people are smart. They want to do the right thing, and they will listen to reason. When you challenge them to serve a higher purpose, they will usually rise to the challenge.