As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of Ken Burns documentaries. His style, ability to tell a story and create a mood using images and music always appealed to me. The Civil War, Baseball, and Lewis and Clark were some of my early favorites. If you haven’t figured it out already, I was an absolute lady-killer in high school.
Under Wisconsin’s recent “Safer-at-Home” order, I found ample time to reconnect with Burns’ work. It was surprising, and a little uplifting, that my own kids were interested in and enjoyed watching the majority of The Roosevelts. Focusing on Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor, the series chronicles the lives and legacies of these three pillars of American history.
The series prompted questions from my kids: “What’s polio?” “Where’s Harvard?” “What’s a mistress?” “Does everything take place in New York?” As they seemed generally interested in the content for its aesthetics, this also has been a good opportunity for them to learn these things apart from their traditional school settings. One of the best things they learned in the series was the value of leadership.
While Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor were born into privilege, all three suffered personal setbacks, making them able to see the human condition of Americans not born into privilege. It was this ability and their natural ability to lead that allowed the three to succeed and enabled Franklin and Eleanor to guide the country through the Great Depression and World War II.
As I learn more about leadership in the Master of Business Administration program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I’m lucky to see many of these best practices implemented at the Woodson Art Museum. Foresight, communication, and flexibility, provide a steady hand during this unsteady time and guide decisions being made which will benefit the Museum not only in the present, but in the future.
I can only hope my kids will become great leaders themselves one day. They already carry big sticks. They just need to work on speaking softly.