Room for excellence

Nov 15, 2012 By Steven R. Peck

Joe Meyer's reassuring words

Former Wyoming congressman, Secretary of Defense and Vice President of the United States (yes, we put "Wyoming congressman" first on the list deliberately) Dick Cheney spoke at the recent funeral of Wyoming State Treasurer Joe Meyer, who died last month in the middle of his elected term after battling cancer for years.

The two had been friends all their lives, and as Cheney's career in Washington ascended, he asked Meyer along for the ride. Cheney had been preparing to assume his next high office as he moved up the ladder, and he offered Meyer a job as his chief of staff.

It was a good offer: more money, more prestige, great networking prospects, and high name recognition should other opportunities arise.

But Meyer said no.

"Dick, I'll never leave Wyoming," Meyer told Cheney.

It wasn't that Meyer was afraid of the offer, or worried that he couldn't do the work. It wasn't that he didn't want to be in public service.

He simply wanted to do it here.

A standard remark from the newspaper publisher during interviews with young candidates for reporting jobs is "there is room for excellence everywhere, and a need for it here."

There is no rule that says the top achievers always must "climb" to a higher rung on someone else's ladder. While we hope that our high-ranking national leaders are worthy of their positions in terms of education, expertise, achievement, leadership and other valued qualities, we all know that isn't always the case.

And, while it might be convenient or satisfying for outsiders to presume that anyone satisfied to take a job, accept an appointment, or hold an elected office in a smaller state, or city, or agency, or business is someone of inferior intelligence or leadership, we all know that isn't the case either.

Dick Cheney knows it. He rose to the highest ranks of government, and he wanted Joe Meyer there with him. And Joe Meyer knew it, too. He had the chance to go to Washington, to rub elbows with the high and mighty, but he chose to do his good work in Wyoming instead.

If your ambitions, your desires, your comfort zone and your objectives send you on a course to a "higher" place, more power to you. But there are many ways to serve, and many places to do it. Excellence is needed everywhere.

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