I had only been on the Board of Trustees for Falmouth Academy for a year when they asked me to be the Chair. I remember the moment the Chair of the Committee on Trustees said to me, "Well, many people have mentioned your name." I laughed it off – how could that be possible? I was already so busy with my full time job and two teenagers still at home, I couldn’t imagine taking on the position.
I told her there was no way I really had the time to lead an independent school properly. Later, when she called me to offer the position, I reiterated that same thought. She simply replied, “Just think about it.”
I paced around my house quite a bit that weekend, knowing that by entertaining the notion, I was making it harder and harder to say no. The school was a wonderful institution with great teachers and a fabulous culture – what could I really add to that? Yet as I thought about it, I did see places for improvement, especially in the area of marketing, which is one of my passions.
I thought about my current job (running an inn on Cape Cod) and the reality that I would have to hire more staff to fill the hours as I spent time in this new leadership position.
Then I asked my husband. I knew there would be countless dinners I would not be able to cook, soccer games I would miss, and violin lessons to which I could no longer chauffeur. My husband is a writer, and while he is totally committed to his work, his actual desk time is flexible. “When is the next time you will be offered something important like this?” he asked. “They need you.” He encouraged me to lean in.
So I said yes. In the nine months since I accepted the post, there have been more challenges than I anticipated – but I find the work of leadership difficult, challenging and gratifying.
I have been able to lean in because of the sacrifice and support of my behind-the-scenes team. My husband has learned to make roast pork and quinoa, my wonderful staff has rallied without me at the inn, and my teenagers have stepped up as well.
My best move was "hiring" my sixth-grader to take over the weekly laundry. He separates the darks from the lights, knows the cold cycle from the hot, and even folds the complicated stuff with aplomb. Best of all, he is happy with his extra five dollars a week in allowance. Now if I could just get him to save it...