Rules for Washington

I used to enjoy the Abu Muqawama blog but didn’t read it (or much of anything in that vein) after embarking on this new career. Today I was browsing old bookmarks and discovered that he hung up the blog last year. He concluded his final post with some “rules for Washington” that strike me as good advice.

*** Rules for Washington:
(1) Do a good job in the job you’re in. Don’t be so focused on what your next job might be that you leave a bad taste in the mouths of
those with and for whom you currently work.
(2) Don’t be a jerk. As Nate Fick always says, it’s an iterative game with a limited number of players. The people you’re working with today might be the people you’re working with – or for – tomorrow.
(3) Be a servant-leader. Toward the end of my less-than-stellar athletic career, I played a few seasons as a flanker in rugby. It’s not the most glorious position, but the people who do it best are the people who keep up a very high work rate doing all the ugly stuff – largely rucking and tackling – a team needs someone to do in order to win. So volunteer for the crappy work in the office. Go fetch coffee. Put together binders. Do it with a smile on your face, and keep a bottle of Old Overholt on your desk for your co-workers when times get tough.
(4) Have a sense of humor. This blog covered Very Serious national security issues with a Lego jihadi as its mascot. That was always by design. If you take yourself or the issues too seriously, the terrorists win.
(5) As Charlie always reminds people, stay away from the marrieds. Sounds like an obvious one, but people screw this up too often.
(6) Don’t write op-eds in the Washington Post defending torture or, if you happen to edit the Washington Post, hire people who defend torture. Because torture is wrong. Yes, always. Do I really have to explain this? … F***, really? I quit.

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