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Reflections on Leadership and Love on the Occasion of My Marriage

In other posts on leadership where I mentioned love, I quickly offer the disclaimer that I am not talking about the ‘romantic kind of love.’ Well, today is different. On Sunday, July 24th, I married the love of my life after twenty-five years of being mostly single so I have had ample opportunity to think about love and this rather momentous occasion. And yes, not everything has to be about leadership but I couldn’t quite help myself.

A couple of weeks before the wedding a friend and former board member asked why we decided to get married instead of just continuing on as a solidly committed couple. I appreciated the opportunity for reflection, one that brought me back to a leadership value that is fundamental to the way I think about leadership and life, interdependence. We chose the ritual of marriage as a way to celebrate not only our union but the union of our communities as we brought people from all strands and times in our lives together as a full reflection and celebration of who we are as individuals, who we are together as a couple and who we are in community. I was so happy to be surrounded by people who brought us to this moment with their encouragement and support and who will carry us forward. We are capable of so much more together than alone. And it was a beautiful and sweet celebration of love. Love was in the air, in an infectious way that is kindled by weddings. One person hugged me and thanked me for the chance to step away for a moment from all that is hard in the world right now and to be lifted up by love. 

I was incredibly lucky to meet Mario, my husband (first time I have written thatJ). He is the kindest, most loving, generous and compassionate person I know, and that is on top of being a dedicated physician, devoted dad, fun, smart, good looking and a great cook. I will continue to learn from him for rest of our lives together, and one of the most important immediate things I have learned from him is what it is like to be completely loved and accepted for who you are. I hope I have given this to my children, but I am not sure it’s a perspective that has found its way into my work in the leadership world.  

It’s kind of hard to be in the leadership field and not want to change yourself (and others) as part of the leadership development process. I find I can be hard on myself with notions of who I could and should be, and lose sight of who I am and my authentic good heart and qualities. I have found myself wondering in the field of leadership where there can be a ‘fix it’ approach to making one a better leader if we need to pay more attention to loving leaders and helping them to love themselves. There is a lot of talk these days about authentic leadership, and I sometimes read it to mean appreciating your particular or different style of leadership rather than a deep self-knowledge and appreciation that nourishes and anchors us in turbulent times. 

So what I learned about leadership from love and marriage???

  • We need more rituals that celebrate love. I am not knocking the group hug, but maybe we could raise the bar up a bit since weddings don’t exactly happen every day. 
  • And let's learn from romantic and parental love about how to nurture leadership…not by fixing people who can be their own source of change, especially when instead we show them some love and reflect back to them the heart and qualities they already possess.