I woke up this morning and routine kicked in. Shower, check. Shave, check. Dress, check. Head to the closet and pick one of my dozen uniform shirts. The DC Water shirt, the uniform I have been wearing for eight years. Even though I know that pride goeth before the fall, I put on DC Water’s colors and feel a tangible sense of pride, and responsibility. I pull my hand back and turn away. That shirt and all the rest of my DC Water gear stays on the hanger. My time with DC Water has come to an end.
Many have asked why I have stepped down from such an extraordinary enterprise. I hope to explain my thoughts in the days and weeks ahead on this blog. I can say that my decision was not an easy one, and one I often second guess. Perhaps my thoughts are best expressed in the final message I wrote to the DC Water’s Team Blue:
Friday, January 5
Good Afternoon Team Blue,
I dread coming to this moment of my final farewell. I am comforted in part knowing that I will still see many of you in the days ahead. Although I am not sure of my future, I am sure I will be living here. I am sure I will stop by to say hello and hear about your amazing work, whether to a crew in the street or folks working in the new headquarters. I am sure I will remain a true-blue friend to DC Water in whatever way that is helpful. I plan to remain closely connected through Blue Drop and a book and company both called Moonshot.
Yet, while I will never be far, I am hanging up my uniform. As I have said before, it has been a privilege of a lifetime to work at your side. You have enriched my life beyond measure and taught me more than I ever expected to know about this precious resource, and about the lives we live while shouldering this task. You welcomed me when I started, have been patient when I have needed to learn, have listened when I had something to say, and have always answered the call to serve. I will say it one more time – You are the Super Bowl Team of Water – I have been blessed to be at the helm of such an incredible group.
I do have a final request. As I mentioned, I am planning to write a book about what we have done together called “Moonshot” – hoping that we can inspire others. Please, please email me at email@example.com if you have any story, large or small, individual or teams, about how we have improved. Send anything – a sentence, a paragraph to give some context, a bulleted list or even short essay, and let me know how I can get in touch with you. No story is too big or small. The innovative design for a manhole pick is one of my favorites. So is the mammoth Bailey Bioenergy facility or the Blue Plains Tunnel. All these stories deserve the limelight!
I also offer a final thought. I revealed at the holiday party that I offer a quiet prayer before every major event. I pray not for some intervention or sudden insight. I pray that I may live up to my sense of a better self. I pray to be capable of hearing and understanding the feelings and ideas of others, to see and engage what is good in every person and situation, and I pray to find in myself a calm and focus that enables me to be part of finding common ground to move forward. For ultimately, I believe it is moving forward on our journey that is our measure, not any destination or accomplishment.
Certainly, I have not always lived up to my ideal of self, and have often been hobbled by anger or perceived slights. I have learned, though, to say the next prayer, focus on the next right step, and to keep striving for that ideal. This image is my sense of all of us. We are all working hard to be our best selves, even as we confront seemingly impossible challenges – day after day. My most profound lesson is that the men and women of DC Water are capable of being incredible people. You do every day more than many or perhaps anyone expects – even more than you might expect of yourself.
We have done magnificent work together. Trust me though, you have just touched on what you can do, individually and together. I can hardly wait to see what is next!
And look after Lisa Barton after I am gone, as fully and honestly as she has looked after me. She is family to me.
With tremendous love and respect, George Hawkins