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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: Water Under the Bridge

By Kevin O'Toole, June 29 2021 12:01 am

For eons we have heard the expression “water under the bridge.” But did we ever fully understand the expression?

In the political lexicon, that term typically was employed when one party (usually the offender) would want the other party (usually the victim) to move past an issue, and there was some insistence that no one should harbor a residual grudge. That ask is, often times, tough medicine to swallow.

As I have said many times before: all politics is personal (Sorry Speaker O’Neill), at least to the person getting gored in the political thunder dome. We all have heard the expression that we should never go out as a sore loser. But there is better advice than that—be a gracious winner and let the water roll under the bridge.

Life, like politics, sometimes deals an awful hand. What do you do in those circumstances? I suggest a person is not measured or defined during moments of peace or calm. A person is truly defined by how they act in crisis, under fire, or in chaos.

I believe that a failure to get past a grudge, a failure to allow the water to freely flow under the bridge, will handicap you and prevent you from fully realizing leadership greatness or achieving political equanimity. I know too many people in politics who harbor life-long grudges—which is neither healthy nor smart.

I admit, sometimes I am a better coach than a player, but I think it is wise for all to let go of the grudges they hold and move ahead. Let’s all stand over that proverbial bridge and watch the water flow.

Try it and let me know how it works out.

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