• shane@countryexec.com
  • Seguin, Texas
The Truth Behind Being A Public Servant

The Truth Behind Being A Public Servant

I’ve known for years now I am a public servant at heart. It took my transitioning to private industry to learn who I was in a professional capacity and what I wanted to do with my life. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found my calling. It is said you never work a day in your life if you do something you love. I believe this to be true. Actually, I know it is. If you have been fortunate enough to find your calling, I suspect you know what I’m referring to.

The Country Executive - Public Servant

Becoming A Public Servant

My indoctrination into becoming a public servant started early as someone that grew up in a military family. I spent the first fifteen years of my adult life in service to my country. First through an enlistment in the Air Force, followed by many years as a government contractor.

During that time, I always felt what I did directly impacted those that were out there putting their lives on the line for the greater good. It gave me great resolve knowing that just maybe the piece of technology I was working on may help those forward deployed complete their missions and get home safe.

I hung my hat on that mindset and was more than content believing my small contribution may have made a difference. No matter the task it mattered to me what I was doing and how I went about it. I accepted the fact I was never going to be rich doing what I was doing and never took issue with knowing that.

Being A Public Servant

In the heart of every public servant is the desire to improve the lives of those you serve. Make no mistake, not everyone employed in public service is a public servant. For some it is a means to provide. Nothing wrong with that in my book as long as you are engaged to the capacity needed and you put in an honest day’s work.

For many in public service it is significantly more than that. It is a lifestyle, a way of being. I would go so far as to say it is who that individual is down to their core. Maybe they were like me and stumbled into it. Perhaps they knew it all along and naturally gravitated that way in their careers.

Regardless, as someone that lives on the inside, I can assure the general public there are outstanding people doing impressive things and making personal sacrifices to ensure our local governments work. I am constantly in awe of those that time after time continue to operate in such a giving capacity.

The Country Executive - Public Servant

Public Servant Snapshot

Covid clinics, food drives, and community clean up days are but a few examples of the additional duties that fall outside the scope of our assigned responsibilities. We still must get them done for the betterment of our respective communities. These are all volunteer activities that have taken place in the past few months within my city. Some multiple times.

Local governments are historically organizationally lean. We do more with less, that is a fact. Day to day aspects can be difficult to manage as a result. Prioritization is key and can change in a moments notice. As a department head and people manager you learn to navigate these waters as best you can. There are many tactics that can be used to stay ahead of the curve so to speak.

This is even more evident in a fast-growing city such as my own. Every new subdivision adds more citizens and additional areas requiring public safety support. My employer owns all the utilities services within the heart of the city, some extend way beyond that. New homes mean more power connections, water lines, and sewage. More city staff to support services requires more internal support staff along with more technology. It’s a revolving cycle and is exciting for me personally, but a challenge nonetheless.

Public Servant Truth

Public servants knowingly make less than private industry counterparts. Certainly, a truism for technology. Right or wrong I believe it is true across the board. I am living proof of that fact as famously I took a pay cut many would consider absurd to do what I do today. I have zero regrets with the decision made.

In return our employee benefits tend to be outstanding. Per my perspective they are. One of the things I am grateful for today is the little nuggets of knowledge I pick up on beyond my world of technology. The fact our HR director goes to great lengths to ensure our benefits stay the same rate, or as close to the same rate as possible despite surging health care costs. Easier said than done.

I have never in my career had better work life balance. In Texas we have an amazing pension system for local government employees. In the era of dwindling corporate 401k matches that alone is extremely difficult to find in todays work environment.

This is the give and take we accept. Yes, we may be able to make a higher salary elsewhere but between the benefits and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference on those around you it is a worthwhile life decision. At least for me.

My Public Servitude

Five plus years later and hindsight being 20/20 my return to being a public servant was absolutely the right decision for me personally. I consider myself fortunate to have found my way into delivering technology solutions in service to my fellow Texans. It is a privilege to do what I do as far as this born and bred Texan is concerned.

I have stated in previous posts that it was important to me that my life and career mean something. Readily I will admit that I enjoyed my time in private industry, the people I worked alongside and became friends with. I also stated that at the end of the day working to make wealthy people wealthier didn’t resonate in my soul.

Nothing against capitalism of course, just not how I want to contribute to society. More power to the folks wired like that. I have long admired the entrepreneurial mindset. Being a public servant is that happy medium for me. Bringing my technical experience from different industries around the world to my little slice of Texas is enough for this simple country guy. That is the privilege I speak of.

The Country Executive - Public Servant

Public Servant Impact

The impact you can make as a public servant is substantial. I see this play out seemingly daily from the top down to those staff members that may not realize the impact they are making on people’s lives. I drive Mrs. Country Exec up the wall when we’re cruising around town and I’m talking about anyone of a multitude of projects I am either involved with or know is coming around the corner.

We went through a serious winter storm in Texas this past February. It is extremely unusual for weather like that to make it this far down in the state. Not many of us even know how to deal with it. In Maryland some twenty years ago it didn’t take long for me to realize I was essentially ignorant on how to live in cold weather.

That said, my city partnered with local industries to provide in a time of need. Our own city manager stood up and worked at a water filling station after citizens pipes froze. When the roads were at their worst our police chief drove water to a hospital in a neighboring city. Public safety personnel slept onsite to keep 911 going.

Utilities personnel had to repair lines that were down to keep electricity flowing when it was available. One of our major industry partners in town loaned us a solenoid to avert a potential disaster at a wastewater treatment plant. There are so many more stories. People stepped up big time.

Public Servant Conclusion

I want to be clear that all this doesn’t mean you cannot have a fulfilling career beyond being a public servant. Naturally I gravitated towards it and was fortunate to gain experience in other environments that helped me understand who I am as a person. To each their own I say. If you find your career to be rewarding and it provides you everything needed to lead a fulfilled life, I am all for it. Consider yourself fortunate if so.

If you find yourself wanting more out of your career becoming a public servant may just be for you. Perhaps even local government like yours truly. If not working in local government, volunteering, or serving in some capacity. Go to your city and/or county’s webpage and look at the available opportunities. Pretty much every local government entity publishes information on their respective site, here in Texas the Texas Municipal League (TML) offer a great website that posts most all of our available opportunities.

There is definitively something to giving back. Acting on behalf of the greater good. Making decisions in the best interest of the community. Personally, I love it and could not imagine a more rewarding career experience. Even better I get to do it in rural Texas. I genuinely wish everyone experience the same level of satisfaction in their life. Until next time thank you for reading, and please take care of yourself and the ones you love.

The Country Executive