In my last newsletter, I used what Tony and I have learned over the course of 26 years of marriage (and 33 years together) to explain tenets of leadership. I used the acronym TURF to highlight four aspects of our relationship that translate to leadership. TURF stands for:

  • Trust the other’s intentions

  • Understand and support each other’s aspirations

  • Recognize and appreciate the other’s strengths, and

  • Focus on what’s important

When my husband read the article he noticed one principle that I had overlooked. As he says it, “take the work, but not yourself, seriously.” Tony has always been able to help me to put things in perspective. One of my favorite examples happened the day after I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. We were meeting with a surgeon and I had gotten myself all wrapped up in my head about what the diagnosis meant for me and my family. As is typical protocol, the nurse asked me to step on the scale on the way into the exam room. I was perplexed, and more than a little angry, when the number on the scale kept rising…that was, until I heard giggling behind me. Unbeknownst to me or the nurse, Tony had snuck his foot onto the scale and leaned into it. The nurse and I both lost it. With that one simple act, Tony was able to help me relax a little.

There have also been points in my career when I found myself losing my perspective. For example, we’re in the midst of planning a significant fundraiser at the center. I’ve definitely felt the strain of having a new, part-time, junior team, and as a result, I’ve found myself becoming more and more prescriptive. The good news is that I’ve noticed it, and have had conversations with the team giving them permission to call me on it when they see me getting bossy. I’ve also asked a good friend of mine to send me random pithy text messages over the next few weeks to remind me to keep things in proper perspective.

When have you taken yourself too seriously? What’s your favorite story of when you’ve managed to find the humor in the midst of what may have felt like a daunting situation?