It is now post Labor Day in a presidential election year. That means we are headed into what tends to be a season of division, distortion and disappointment. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do not seem likely to break this tradition. Between Mr. Trump’s blunt and often brash comments and Secretary Clinton’s never-ending email saga, the country is gearing up to tear into the leaders from the opposing party, as well as any family, friends or passing acquaintances who have the temerity to support that leader while in their presence.

But one positive thing to keep in mind this year, no matter who the candidate is, that candidate made the decision to step-up and be a leader to represent at least a certain segment of the population. They represent the views of enough people to have the platform they have, and without someone of that opinion being bold enough to be the leader those people may have been voiceless. Those who lead come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common – stepping forward.

From the moment a person steps forward to lead as a political candidate, they must accept a lot of risk. People don’t always trust politicians, so those on the candidate’s own side look at them with suspicion and those from the other side look on them with open hostility. Those who step forward have to accept the fact that their words will be twisted out of context, their history will be poured over for the slightest misstep and even their family is fair game for an attack. What other job can you think of where you show up to work and someone may have put a television ad together that takes a statement you made decades ago out of context to make you look corrupt, unintelligent or otherwise unfit for your position?

But it all comes with the territory and they know exactly what to expect. These leaders are very aware of all of this, but they choose to step forward anyway. Why? Because they believe the mission and those who need a voice are more important than their own public image. Some politicians get involved for less than pure motivations, but looking at the hell they must endure there really does have to be a strong sense of duty and purpose, as well. From president all the way down to the local school board, somebody has to take this risk knowing what it might mean to their personal and professional lives, but then decide to be that leader anyway.

So, next time you see a candidate on screen or shaking hands at an event, keep in mind what being a leader involves. There are benefits, sure, but it is often a thankless job with many frustrations. Leadership in any field takes courage and for that we should salute all those who stepped forward to run this year.

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