Good morning, Governor. Congratulations on your hard-fought victory. For a while, I wondered if you were going to pull it off. Unfortunately, you don't have time for a victory lap. Inauguration Day is only seven weeks away — and that includes the holidays. Time to get to work.
If your to-do list seems long, you can thank Bobby Jindal. I won't add to it, but I would like to offer a few words of advice based on more than 40 years of observation.
1. Focus. Right now lots of people are tugging at you. Some want jobs. Some are offering advice (most of it self-serving). Some want to be your "friend" (beware of them). Don't get distracted. Right now you need to focus on the task ahead, starting with the budget. Compared to that, everything else is trivial.
2. Prioritize. No matter how smart you are, you're still only human and there are only 24 hours in a day. Don't micromanage. The budget is Job One, but many other important problems need to be addressed as well. You can't tackle them all at once, but you can prioritize them. This is tricky. You don't want to downplay major problems, but you also can't afford to overreach.
3. Figure out who you can trust — then delegate. Once you make that prioritized to-do list, you'll realize that you need a lot of help. The good news is a lot people are willing to help. The bad news is many of them have agendas. You need to identify smart, honest people without agendas who share your vision — and then trust them to make good decisions.
4. Do the hard stuff first. You'll never be more popular than you are on Inauguration Day. Don't squander that good will by postponing tough decisions. Call lawmakers into that special "fiscal" session you promised, and get them to make all the difficult decisions immediately.
5. Make new friends. Put the campaign behind you. Don't try to punish those who opposed your election, because eventually your decisions will cause even some of your "friends" to turn on you. That's when you'll need to make new friends. The wise politician always looks to turn an adversary into an ally.
6. Remember Murphy's Law. Stuff happens. Count on it. Always have a backup plan, or two. Flexibility is a sign of strength, not weakness. Be guided by your own principles, not bound by the ideologies of others.
7. Don't be a stranger. It's easy to get isolated by the trappings of power, especially when staffers and allies constantly tell you how wonderful you are. Be wary of such flattery, for it is the biggest threat to your success.
To overcome that, get out and let your constituents see you, touch you and interact with you. Do this often. Listen closely to the "regular folks" you meet. They're more likely to tell you the truth. Doing this is not just good politics; it's good for the political soul.