The Character and The Cure
We hear so much about hiring “talent” or “skill” that it’s 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.
One of my outside interests is rowing in crew shells. This Sunday I’ll be in a boat with eight other women (seven other rowers + coxswain) rowing 5,000 meters on Lake Union in Seattle to help raise awareness of breast cancer research. Row for the Cure inspires me not only as a rower, but also as a breast cancer survivor. In the 27 years since my diagnosis, I’ve witnessed the huge influence the pink ribbon campaigns have had on research, early diagnosis, better or reduced treatment and longer lives.
About the time I was born, the New York Times refused to publish an ad for a breast cancer support group because it included 2 unacceptable words: “breast” and “cancer.” While I was in school, former First Lady Betty Ford went public with her diagnosis and treatment. I didn’t pay much attention. Then the Susan G. Komen Foundation was founded. I barely noticed. I was a young director in a national consulting and development firm, running five miles a day and eating a (mostly) vegetarian, coffee-free diet. Then, I found the lump.
Seven months of misdiagnoses, two surgeries, nine months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation and one marriage proposal later, I was told the treatments had eliminated visible cancer. When I started having hot flashes on my honeymoon, I was devastated to realize they had also made me sterile. With the help of a brilliant naturopathic physician, a small window of fertility opened and my daughter Annika slipped through it. I jogged with my baby in Seattle’s first “Race for the Cure.” Annika just graduated university this spring.
Last year, a digital mammogram found a tiny cancerous cyst in my sister-in-law’s breast. A few weeks later, Terri arrived at a day clinic, had the cyst removed with assistance of a laser and was home two hours later. No further treatment, fear or trauma required. Not all women have been that lucky, yet we have made progress!
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. Your employees—your people—also have been shaped by more than what appears on their resumes. Get to know them.
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!