Chess not Checkers

My time as a Capital Scholar has taught me many lessons. I have learned that two months is not nearly enough time to see all of D.C. I feel like there’s so much more that I want to see! Not to mention all the souvenirs I still need to get for my family and friends. I have a lot to do in the next week and a half.

As I reflect on my time in D.C. I realize that I have learned a number of different lessons. For one, I have learned that the Metro is not hard to navigate, but it is terribly unreliable. If you leave early, expecting the Metro to have issues, it will probably run perfectly and you’ll be an hour early to your destination, but if you leave on a normal schedule, aiming to be on time, there will be an issue and you’ll be late. From trains running late to fires in the tunnel, I cannot count how many times I have had issues with that train. Users beware!

I learned valuable lessons from my peers. For one, I learned that you should never make snap decisions about someone. You should reserve judgement until you sit down and have an open conversation with them. I also learned that it is okay to have different political beliefs. You may not believe the same things as one another, but it will help you be a better person to hear others out. Who knows? You may learn something from someone.

Though I have experience planning events, planning the trip to Mount Vernon was particularly challenging. I had to coordinate with multiple people to make sure the trip worked with everyone’s schedule. The Capitol Scholars were able to come together and figure out a time that worked for all of us. Though some enjoyed the excursion more than others, I would consider the day and the trip a success.

I also have learned many things from the partners at The Madison Group. I learned from Rodney to continue working hard even when you feel like you are already at the top. I think that is something that I will take with me for the rest of my days. I want to continuously strive to be better than my best.

I have seen myself grow much throughout this trip in D.C. One of the biggest lessons I have learned happened in a steakhouse a half mile from Capitol Hill. The steakhouse we went to was called Charlie Palmer’s and, in D.C., it is know as the the “Democrat Steak house.” This is where the biggest names in lobbying and politics go to loosen up after a hard work day. We were lucky enough to go along with our boss, Marcus, a name everyone on The Hill knows. We actually got to see him talk to a potential client through other connections. I learned two very important lessons that night. One was from a lobbyist friend of Marcus’. He told us, “If you have the chance to study or to go grab a drink with someone, always grab the drink with someone.” No matter what you learn in school will never be nearly as important as what you learn from others. Those connections, as I have touched on earlier in the post, will be the driving factor to where you want to go. Marcus said one of the best pieces of advice I have gotten. He stated, “play chess, not checkers.” He means to always be three steps ahead of your opponent even if that opponent is yourself. You need constantly be thinking about what your next step is. This goes hand in hand with the point I made earlier about not stopping even when you are at the top. I hope to use this new lesson in my everyday life.

While I am sad about my time in D.C. ending, I am looking forward to my next adventure. Now, to learn chess!



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