First 100 Days: Finding small wins whether your candidate won or lost

Editor’s note: Between now and the end of the semester, which happens to coincide with the first 100 days of the new Biden-Harris administration in Washington, D.C., SOURCE will be featuring perspectives on various aspects of what the incoming leadership of the nation may mean to the country, and specifically to the Colorado State University community.

First, we’d like to revisit an essay written in October by Tom Vilsack, who served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Barack Obama and has been nominated to the same position in President Joe Biden’s cabinet. Vilsack had been serving the Colorado State University System as strategic advisor for food and water initiatives at the CSU Spur Campus at the National Western Center. Here is an excerpt from his piece originally published as part of the System’s Your Voice. Your Vote. Your Rights. initiative ahead of the 2020 election.

I hope that the young people who may have been involved at some level in some political race this year where their candidate may have lost take the time between elections to consider how they might have personally won despite their candidate being unsuccessful. I think anyone who reflects on the little wins can handle the big defeats a little easier.

There are many ways to look for the small wins in a losing campaign. There are a series of questions that a person can ask themselves to identify those “little wins”, including:

  1. As a result of my participation in this campaign, have I met a new friend?
  2. As a result of my participation in this campaign, have I expanded my list of contacts – of people on whom I might rely for advice and help in the future?
  3. As a result of my participation in this campaign, have I worked on an issue that is now top of mind and is likely to be addressed in a different way due to my work than it would have been at the start of the campaign?
  4. As a result of my participation in this campaign, have I strengthened a local or state party so that future candidates might be more successful in races to come?
  5. As a result of my participation in this campaign, have I encouraged others to get involved and stay involved in issues that matter to them and to me?

The list of possible questions is endless, but if time is spent in reflection, those important wins might be discovered and may change your life.

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Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (head shot)
Tom Vilsack