Can we ever be prepared for tragedy?

Much has been written about leading in a time of crisis and about parenting when things go terribly wrong. However, no amount of parent education or leadership training is enough to prepare us for unimaginable loss. I’m writing today in memory of the lives lost at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday.

It’s been a week since the tragedy. I’ve read news stories, seen photos of the victims, and watched the vigils on television. Each story is so hard to hear. But, the one that brought me to tears was a tweet: “Eight out of ten girls from her Daisy troop are gone”

I clicked on the tweet and read this comment on a news article about the shooting:

I was talking to a friend about the shooting last night – she’s originally from Danbury, and knows some of the victims’ families personally. Her five-year-old niece is a Sandy Hook student and I remarked on how horrible it must be to be so young and lose so many people you know personally.

What really knocked the wind out of me during that conversation was this: “Eight out of ten girls from her Daisy troop are gone.”

Nothing can prepare you for tragedy of this magnitude.

May those who lost their lives that day rest in peace.


© 2012 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

Keep On Keeping On

A friend sent me a link to a recent HBR podcast, Ernest Shackleton’s Lessons for Leaders in Harsh Climates. If you read my previous blog post about making difficult decisions, you know I am a fan of Shackleton and his leadership style. I’ve read a lot about him already, and I have to admit that I didn’t think I would learn anything from the podcast. But, I decided to listen to it, and it was worth my while. Let me tell you why…

The 30-minute podcast features Nancy Koehn, Harvard Business School historian and editor of The Story of American Business. She uses Shackleton’s story as a case study with her MBA students, and, in this podcast, she discusses how to apply Shackleton’s leadership to today’s tough business conditions. Interestingly, she also touches on some parenting scenarios. As you can imagine, my ears perk up when I hear someone else exploring the intersection of leadership and parenting. In this case, it was about perseverance, or “keep on keeping on” especially when the going gets tough.

Later in the day, I was thinking about the phrase “keep on keeping on” as I read An Overwhelmed Mother’s Departure Memo in the New York Times. After outlining her insane day juggling her kids and her job, she concludes with,

Needless to say, I have not been able to simultaneously meet the demands of career and family, so have chosen to leave private practice, and the practice of law (at least for now). I truly admire all of you that have been able to juggle your career and family and do not envy what a challenge it is trying to do each well.

In her case, the demands were too much, and she decided to stop keep on keeping on. However, not everyone has that choice; Shackleton did not give up, many working parents can’t quit due to financial concerns, and those parents of special needs kids who won’t ever give up on their children.

Do you feel you have a choice when the going gets tough? How do you “keep on keeping on” at work? At home? I look forward to hearing from you.


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© 2012 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.