How the Republican Committee Ticked Me Off – But the Issue wasn’t Them

Some conversations invigorate – others exasperate. The difference is aspiration, values, and talent.

Years ago, the Republican Committee* asked, “If we put you forward for this elected office, what will you do for us?”

Their question ticked me off. Ultimately, I said, “I’ll serve my constituents to the best of my ability.” I’m sure they felt my irritation. They didn’t advance my name.


Reciprocity is irritation apart from aspiration.

“We’ll help you if you help us,” is opportunity for someone who aspires to public office. It’s a ridiculous nuisance to someone who isn’t compelled to get elected.

Leaders dangle aspiration like cheese. “If you want to get ahead, you need to help us get ahead.”

I was willing to serve, but I don’t aspire to elected office.


Autonomy is life to me.

If you value networking, their invitation is an awesome opportunity to develop mutually beneficial relationships. It’s exasperating bondage to me. Actually, it offends me.

Their question was legitimate. It irritated me because I resist imposed obligations.

The leadership question isn’t, “What will you do for us?” The question is, “How will you serve others?”

(Maybe leaders are asking the wrong question.)


My talents are Ideation and Activation. An idea that moves the agenda forward is a thing of beauty to me. Networking isn’t my strong point. I love people, but it’s natural for me to prefer ideas and progress.

Skilled networkers might feel excitement at the Republican Committee’s question. I felt irritation.

Opportunity to choose service invigorates. Imposed obligation exasperates.


Responses during conversations are governed by aspiration, values, and talents.

Skillful leaders expand influence when they speak to the aspiration, values, and talents of others.

How might leaders unintentionally irritate the people they’re talking with?

How might leaders fuel energy in others?

*The Democrat Committee probably would have asked the same question. The current Republican Committee doesn’t know me.