Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is it ever okay to be Proud ?

I am not talking about selfish pride, or being boastful of oneself.  I think, in general, there is never really a time where this is "called for" and a more humble approach is almost always a better one.  Despite this belief I know I am prone to moments of being proud about myself ... all I can say is, I'm working on it!

What I am asking about is situations where you are so proud of a person you know and what they have accomplished.  Is it okay to boast of them when you speak about or to them?

Here's why I ask:
My wife is simply amazing!  For those that follow her blog, you already know of the struggle and challenge she has been dealing with as the de-facto President of the VGRA Pool Board (a local community pool in her parent's neighborhood that we have frequented for many years now, and the same pool she used to lifeguard at back in high school).

Karen became a member of the Pool Board two years ago, initially as a means to take advantage of the "free" membership that was offered to pool board members for their service on the board.  Through some unique events she became the Secretary for the board that same day she joined the board.  This caused an incredible amount of stress on her (not all bad, as some of it simply gave her an opportunity to expand her comfort zone) especially because the leadership and flow of the pool board meetings was non-existent.  Agendas?  Ha!  One person speaking at a time?  Please!  Stick to one subject at a time?  Are you crazy?!  Why would we do that?!

Anyway, she retained this position on the board that whole year, and then last year she agreed to continue on in that role (with some additional responsibility of handling some of the duties related to the Snack Bar at the pool).  Unfortunately the change in leadership from 2009 to 2010 did little to make anything run better.  In fact, it probably got worse.  As with any local small business (non-profit like the pool is or otherwise) individual egos come into play and communication breaks down, eventually leading to lots of "politics" and e-mails that should NEVER be sent.  Amidst all this turmoil, Karen remained as positive as she could and tried her best to keep everyone working together so that the community could enjoy the benefits of the pool (a pool Karen grew up using and has many fond memories of, even recent ones with our own children).

In September, 2010 everything finally exploded.  The pool season was over and like rats jumping from a sinking ship (and I do think those that "bailed" could definitely be called "rats" ... except that's kind of mean to real rats everywhere!) the President, Vice President, and another pool board member simply resigned their positions on the board.  Of note, the President had basically fired the Pool Manager and had also kicked at least one other pool board member off the board, if not driven away another.  Technically, these board members had made a 3-year commitment to the board when first elected ... and also, technically, they were not allowed to resign until their positions could be replaced (which can only happen at a special meeting of the general pool membership or at the annual general meeting, held in the first four months of the year).

My awesome wife stepped up (somewhat reluctantly) and took on the President's role.  She reorganized the other three remaining board members to ensure the main positions of the board would be taken care of.  She coordinated meetings with these members to cover essential and future-planning agenda items.  She outlined clearer responsibilities for ALL pool-related positions: the Manager, Assistant managers, Lifeguards, Pool Board general members and specific officers.  She called former board members to get their input on how things used to be so she would know how to reorganize everything the right way!  She balanced delicately the strained relationships of former board members, current board members, the fired manager, lifeguards, and general busy-bodies of the pool.

In addition to handling an unfair amount of clean-up, left behind by the last several Pool Board presidencies, Karen spent significant time re-building relationships with people she knew were needed for the better long-term future of the pool.  She recruited others to her cause convincing some of her remaining peers on the board that they were strong enough to handle the challenges dumped on them.  As a group they got the correct type and amount of insurance on the pool and its property.  They correctly outlined responsibilities of the Manager role, posted the position for applicants, and began interviews.  They priced and budgeted the opening and closing of the pool by an outside vendor (instead of hoping that board members just knew how to do this properly).

Above all this, she set the agenda for and facilitated over the General Membership Annual meeting this past week.  You just have to trust me when I say this is something that would be difficult, if not impossible, for even a moderately self confident person to do.  And Karen is very low on her self confidence (I still have no idea why when I consider how amazing she is!) and even through the aforementioned amazing leadership, I know she still felt overwhelmed by the task at hand.  With a little coaching and support from me, but mostly based on her own strength, she completely ran the meeting and put all the "complainers" and "detractors" in their proper place.  She was firm, but kind.  She used her very thorough knowledge of the bylaws of the pool to support her statements and referred those with questions to those very bylaws.  Her preparedness must have floored these disgruntled former board members, but it thoroughly impressed and amazed me!

I have seen my wife's emotions all across the board (and she has seen mine).  But I have never seen such an amazing sense of self-confidence in her as I did this past Wednesday evening when she got home from her meeting.  She was beaming with pride ... but not really pride ... more the satisfaction of a job very well done.  She would never admit it, but I think she is an even better leader than I am!  She has a sensitivity to people that allows her to empathize so much more effectively than I ever have.

It was no big surprise to me when she informed me that she was now the official Pool Board President (and not just the fill-in until another person could be called version she has been since September).  In fact, I think she was more surprised that one of the new board members (who incidentally has been a "detractor" in the past few months) recommended that she (my wife) remain as the President.  I was not able to be there to see her in action, but I am certain that her strong, persuasive, loving personality won this "old guy" (and all the others) over in support of her!

So I am proud of my awesome wife!  I am proud to be her husband (I always have been!) and I am excited for her to continue to flex her leadership abilities in this important experience.  I am most proud that she is re-gaining some of the confidence she seems to have lost since her independent college days as a paramedic.  I love you Karen!  And I love you even more when you love yourself enough to trust in your abilities!  I am so proud of you!


1 comment:

  1. It is definitely OK to be proud, proud of one's self and of others! I'm proud of Karen for her ability to take on such enormous responsibilities and handle/manage/organize with such professionalism and accuracy! BRAVA!! And I'm proud of you for your support of your amazing wife! And, in essence, I'm proud of me for knowing you and Karen and being a part of this family!