March Madness is all around us again, and I am really happy to have it back. So many memories of my life are tied to these months, and the early decisions that were made then are still playing out. Yesterday we talked about the bumper sticker about Faith and I realize that some of you don’t like me bouncing around my timeline, but at least the U2 storyline will be consistent. For there is really no way to talk about them without weaving in one of the most important partners in the band… and therefore a bit about my own story that is very similar.
Alison Stewart was born in March of 1961 to protestant parents in north Dublin, her father a self-trained electrician and a mother who was “a housewife” whose name was prescient – Joy. A middle child, and like him she arrived at Mount Temple School at 12, and had a pesky 13-year old pursuing her – who she labeled an “eejit” – which is Gaelic for “a stupid person, an idiot, usually reserved for a female”. And then that eejit’s mother died… and left him adrift, with no connection to his older brother and barely with his father. She stepped in and started walking to school with him, helping him keep his clothes clean, and even cooking some meals.
They also were very active in something called the Shalom Fellowship, a non-denominational group – appropriate for the mixed-faith of Paul’s parents, and a place that a few other members of the Lyton gang also went. The band was starting to get a decent following, but frankly Alison was not that wild about the friends, or the music – preferring her parents’ Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. As the friends deepened their partnership, they all slowly changed their names, and now were on a successful tour supporting their first album… but Alison was still not convinced. While they were now a steady couple, and she even now went by Ali, she said that this music thing needed to pan out before moving forward…
… at almost the same time, a young eejit was similarly called back into a fellowship group for college students in Dallas. Having tried a few alternatives to the Faith foundation that was firmly in place, he had decided to go back to what he knew, and those that he knew best. He brought a couple of his roommates who, while didn’t have different names, were… unique. And across town, a girl convinced her roommate to come with her to a new fellowship group that was forming. To make it even more amazing, and I would now say, a demonstration of Faith, that roommate’s last name was House… but not the one that caught the eejit’s eye.
Ok, so enough of this love story stuff right… what does this have to do with leadership? Everything. I write about partners a lot, and yes we can bend this to the direction of work easily. I was just talking with someone about the value of college… it demonstrates you can FINISH something. Read any leadership book you want, and it will talk about “relationship management”. I am old-fashioned, yes, and… the way you handle the most important relationship says as much or more about you than your college degree.
Your primary partnership is the one that you have spent a lot more time with for the last year or more. And… it might have been tested, and probably is not all “Happiness and Joy”… And… without the support at home you need, the people that know you better than you know yourself, and THEIR support, their Faith… in you… all is vanity. If your partnership is not in a good position, as we are emerging from this long season, I would strongly recommend that would be a good place to start to put energy… and Faith.
Ali was waiting after the Boy tour ended, and decided she could finally say yes to joining this eejit group of band members with odd names, and even odder music – that amazingly was starting to catch on. They married in August of 1982… so I can add that we are 18 months ahead of them… And celebrating 40 years together next week (which I will say more about then…). This week, it was 42 years ago that I called up for my first date during the Finals of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird… March Madness indeed. The picture below – I understand — completely — the look on both their faces… Bono – what the heck have I pulled off here?? And Ali – what in the world have I done…. But in both, the look of the Faith that true partners have. Gloria.