As I work to improve as a paddler for my local dragon boat club, I am developing friendships among my fellow teammates – in and off the boat. Thinking about that took me down memory lane . . . .
Waaaaaay back in my 20’s and 30’s I was a very active member of a Jaycee chapter. Women and men were equal members (no Jaycettes in sight) and while our focus was on community service, it was also an opportunity to develop organizational skills useful both to our chapter and to our workplaces. After being elected to the board for the first time I attended my initial meeting, seated by my portfolio vice president. There was a lot of discussion about possible new events and overlapping conversations. I caught the words “dog and pony show” and in my then-ignorance I blurted out, “Oh, I love dogs! I’d love to work on an event with dogs and ponies!” My VP jabbed me in the side to stop me from talking further, but he was unsuccessful. Who knew it was a term for a sales presentation?
The Jaycees gave me an opportunity to learn project management skills, work on a team, supervise others, conduct post-mortems on events and develop leadership skills – all of which contributed to my professional trajectory. And I made friends; one Jaycee friend came to Atlanta when Rick and I married and has been a constant in my life since we met. (I also fought for my rights as a woman, becoming the lead plaintiff, with my chapter’s blessing and financial support, in trying to retain our chapter’s ability to have women as full members. In writing this post I googled my then-last name and it popped right up even after almost thirty years!)
It has been a long time since I’ve been in a career position, and my life has certainly taken unexpected turns along the way. Since becoming a widow, I’ve become a dragon boat racing enthusiast. I find there are similarities to my experience in the Jaycees. I am learning new skills applicable to my life and becoming a stronger, fitter woman. The team is all-important and we cannot succeed without one another. And I am making friends – new ones who enrich my life and I theirs – and who are becoming constants just as my Jaycee friend I met decades ago.
It’s all good.