The election is announced…

And so for those of us resident in Ireland, our news cycles, social media and lampposts among other things will be dominated by politics and politicians for the next three-and-a-half weeks until polling day on Feb 8.

Running for election is an incredibly personal thing – it requires courage. For those who don’t get elected, their failure is always public and sometimes humiliating, and so people become desperate as campaigns go on to avoid this.

But it may not be always their fault.

A policy decision made by party leadership in Dublin doesn’t suit rural communities and hence representatives of that party in rural areas (who didn’t agree with that decision but are tarred with the same brush) lose votes and miss out. Or a late entry to the field takes a large proportion of another candidates votes away – someone who would have been elected if the late entry decided to stay at home. And the thing about politics is that you often don’t get to atone for losses for 4 or 5 years afterwards.

It’s a bit like Joe Canning, the outstanding Galway hurler who toiled for years without winning an All-Ireland – not through any fault of his own, but because for years some of his teammates and/or the management staff looking after his teams weren’t good enough. Yet hurlers on the ditch would have criticised Joe because up to 2017 he had never won an All-Ireland.

Or like the gig where you play your heart out but the promoter got the venue and audience all wrong for you – they wanted rock ‘n’ roll and your laid back jazz set, though being top notch in and of itself, just wasn’t what the people wanted.

My point in all this? That if we rely on the approval of others or some sort of external validation to feel worthy, or of value, we may often unjustly criticise ourselves and our work.

It’s worth having some internal barometers too. Process matters too – not just results.