Row for the Cure—and So Much More
Sunday, I was in one of dozens of crew shells on Lake Union in Seattle. Eight other women (seven other rowers + coxswain) and I rowed 5,800 meters to help raise awareness of breast cancer research. The weather turned to fall that morning and the water was rough. It was a small reminder of the rough waters those dealing with cancer face every day. Their course is much longer and they don’t get medals at the end!
Row for the Cure inspires me not only as a rower, but also as a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed 28 years ago, I was far younger and far healthier than most people who discovered they had breast cancer at the time. Thanks to a medical media campaign, I found it early enough to enable treatments to be successful.
Over the years since my treatments, I’ve witnessed the huge influence the pink ribbon campaigns have had on research: early diagnosis, better or reduced treatment and longer lives. And the awareness campaigns have done something else—they’ve given us a voice to talk about cancer and other such things previously deemed unacceptable for conversation in polite company.
About the time I was born, the New York Times refused to publish an ad for a breast cancer support group because it included two unacceptable words: “breast” and “cancer.” That’s almost hard to imagine now. While I was in school, former First Lady Betty Ford went public with her diagnosis and treatment—a daring and courageous move at the time that gave voice to millions.
As employers, we can give voice to the people working with us by being candid, then listening and asking questions to get to know them. We hear so much about hiring “talent” or “skill” that it can be easy to forget that we’re really hiring people. People have varied interests, experiences and challenges—many of which contribute to the make up of their character.
Dealing with cancer has given me tools my university professors and business mentors couldn’t teach me: resilience, gratitude and the willingness to keep going when the tunnel ahead is still dark. Rowing has taught me the responsibility of showing up for the team prepared and focused, the reward in pushing myself, and the value of community. Your employees—your people—also have been shaped by more than what appears on their resumes. Get to know them. You’re likely to discover valuable qualities beyond those articulated in their resumes.
If you’d like to know more about Row for the Cure click here. And if you’d like to know more about the great sport of rowing or how to distinguish between a person’s character and their resume, please call me. Ready all. Row!