Photo: Brooke Collins/City of Chicago
1. Patience is overrated.
I'll give you a classic example. We passed a bill that allows kids in Chicago to have a longer school day, but it doesn't go into effect until the fall. Well, I wanted to start it last year. If something is right, why wait? My wife says if we ever had a fourth child, she'd name her Patience, as a subtle reminder.
2. Exercise clears my head.
I swim three mornings a week at 5:30, and it's the only time when I'm alone with my breath and my thoughts, ain't talkin' to nobody. I also do yoga every Saturday and lift weights on Sunday. Discipline. Or neuroses. Maybe both.
3. I believe in standing by people, even when their chips are down.
Anybody who's ever worked for me knows I'm still in their corner. But loyalty isn't just about sticking by someone—it also means telling them the truth, even when they don't want to hear it. That's your responsibility as a friend.
4. If I ever leave public service, I might dabble in interior design.
I studied ballet in a previous life, and dance is all about choreographing a space, making something out of nothing. Home design is like that, too. Maybe that's why I love remodeling, fixing up the house, all that stuff. I'm very into the Philippe Starck look: clean lines, a minimalist approach. To me, bringing all the pieces together is a really strong form of self-expression—especially after a long day spent negotiating with aldermen.
5. My family keeps me going.
We can all work harder at our relationships with our immediate family. But if I didn't know implicitly the devotion that my three children, my wife, and I have to one another, I don't think I'd be able to function.
Other Things We Know for Sure
From the May 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!