Her experience ranged from the medical field as a doctor, administrator and educator, to service on committees and task forces for five national administrations that led to community activism. She served on the Eden Prairie City Council from 1987 to 1995 and was a candidate for Minnesota lieutenant governor in 1990.
Elected mayor of Eden Prairie in 1995, she served until her death in December 2001. On Oct. 9, 2004, The Gathering Bridge in Eden Prairie's Purgatory Creek Park was dedicated in honor of Mayor Jean Harris.
10 Lessons of Life
By Dr. Jean Harris
- Life is a poker game. You play the hand you’re dealt and you play to win. This does not mean that you’re always going to be successful or always make the right decisions. You will stumble and you won’t always make the right decision. The important thing is to learn from those experiences which don’t always turn out the way you hoped or expected.
- No matter what you do, not everyone is going to like you. However, identifying and joining with souls of like and open minds makes progress through life measurably more enjoyable and easier. So forget about the rest. The most destructive waste of time is worrying about what could be if you could only convert the heathens to your way of thinking.
- Don’t let your life just happen. Live it. Every important decision is a calculated risk. So take the calculated risk. Live your life. Make it happen. You will have fewer regrets at the end.
- If you want to retain some measure of control over your life, do everything possible to become a player rather than a bystander in the greater forces and movement that shape your destiny or alter the playing field.
- It is important as individuals and most important as women that we nurture ourselves. We are so accustomed to giving to others; we frequently neglect our own needs. It is important that we set aside a part of each day to recreate our inner being.
- Don’t let big systems swallow you. If it’s really important, even the most routine and boring tasks offer ideas and opportunities for innovation. It is innovation that generates awareness of your uniqueness and your contributions wherever you are.
- Over the period of a lifetime, we all develop skills that are useful somewhere, as well as experiences and expertise that, when applied to a particular task or at a point in time, helps to move social progress, civilization and cultures forward. Our task is to identify those places and those opportunities and to become involved.
- If you really want something, go flat out for it. If it’s really important to you to have or to achieve, do everything within your power to prepare yourself for achieving or for accomplishing that what you really desire. Nine times out of 10 you will be successful; if not, you will learn something of value from one of "life’s little lessons."
- No matter where you go in this world, people are more alike than they are dissimilar. Under the façade of clothes, economic strata and class, people are more alike than dissimilar, whether in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Phoenix, Chicago or New Orleans. Given the chance, people will embrace another human being even when the deck is not stacked.
- The last and perhaps most important of my dictums is don’t miss the fun of living. In short, don’t take yourself too seriously a lot. Forgive yourself and others for their faults. After all, we’re all human.