Six Things I Learned after Thirty Years in the Foreign Service (Part 1)
January 5, 2014 § 20 Comments
Diplomats have the honour of representing their country, and the privilege of getting close enough to international affairs to touch them, and be touched by them. When I completed thirty years and contemplated my retirement from the foreign service, I reflected on what I had learned along the way. This in turn led me to identify some general principles to guide diplomatic conduct. I hope that they may also be helpful to others who work in this tough, but rewarding practice of international relations.
Looking back over the seven countries and 13 positions I have held since I joined the Foreign Service on September 6, 1983 I have drawn six conclusions.
- Be careful, because the world is more dangerous than it used to be.
- Trust is the most valuable diplomatic asset.
- It is fatal to let the prestige of your job contaminate your ego.
- When it comes to development, peace and security, it’s really all about governance.
- When tough choices are required, you have to do the right thing, because that’s what people remember about you and your country.
- The way you say good-bye is more important than how you said hello.
Despatches is a blog of reflection and analysis on diplomacy and international policy subjects. In the next six posts I will write about my personal take on these six critical issues.
I hope you enjoy it and look forward to your comments.