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Posted on Jun 15, 2012

Great Teamwork During a Time of Turbulence

When many couples get married, they dream of settling down and raising a family. Nothing wrong with that. But what if you desired to make a greater impact on the world?

Now imagine being married 32 years before owning your first home, and having to move as many times in those years. Imagine loosing your first child at the age of three to scarlet fever. Imagine both husband and wife being burdened with numerous health issues. And imagine living through a time of significant turbulence and change.

Does that sound hard? You bet. You would have to be pretty strong individuals to live through all of this.

Now imagine being asked to run for President of the United States when most people think about retirement, and bring an end to the Korean War, while preserving peace during the Cold War.

To succeed would require a husband and wife to embrace teamwork as a core value. Teamwork means cooperative effort of two or more people for a common purpose or goal.

Dwight & Mamie Eisenhower understood the value of teamwork throughout their 52 years of marriage. And they shared a common purpose – defending America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Affectionately known as ‘Ike’, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a five-star general who became the 34th President of the United States (1953-1961). Today, he is often ranked as one of the top ten U.S. Presidents.

In addition to being known as a career military man, Eisenhower is remembered for being the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, becoming the first supreme commander of NATO (1951), serving as Chief of Staff under President Harry S. Truman, served as President of Columbia University, and was the architect of the U.S. Interstate Highway System.

Eisenhower accomplished more in his life than many leaders – combined. Was this his destiny from birth?

Eisenhower was born into a large family during a period of great poverty for his parents. What his mother and father did provide was an understanding of the need for reading the Bible and respect for discipline. But it was fascination with military history that drew Ike to pursue a military career.

In spite of numerous health issues, including heart disease and Crohn’s disease, Eisenhower never let these things stop him from pursuing his mission. This is evident from the time he refused amputation of his leg in high school, when a doctor insisted a knee injury had developed into a life-threatening situation. Or when Ike pushed forward with a second term as President after suffering a serious heart attack.

Of course, he had the perfect teammate.

Immediately after graduating from West Point, Eisenhower was stationed in Texas, where he met Mamie Geneva Doud. He proposed, and almost as a symbol of the flexibility they would need in their life together, their wedding day was moved up 5 months because of the pending outbreak of World War I. Mamie agreed. She was the right partner to work with the likes of Ike.

Mamie (Doud) Eisenhower

The faithful teammate for Ike was Mamie Eisenhower, who learned early on to be adaptive to change. While Mamie followed the pattern of other Army wives, moving frequently as her husband was transferred around the country and the world, she never lost site of his mission and the importance of her role.

During her time as First Lady, Mamie adapted to the new world of diplomacy by entertaining an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments. She was noted for her outgoing manner, her love of pretty clothes, and her obvious pride in her husband and the home she created for them.

Mamie was an effective leader in her own right.

In contrast to her extensive entertaining, Mamie was also known as a penny pincher who clipped coupons for the White House staff. And her recipe for “Mamie’s million dollar fudge” was reproduced by housewives all over the country after it was printed in numerous publications.

Mamie also understood the value of service. When they moved into the White House, they celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff. And while always a gracious hostess, connecting well with others, at all times supporting her husband’s mission, Mamie carefully guarded their privacy.

A victim of Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear disorder that affects equilibrium, Mamie was uneasy on her feet, which fed rumors that she had a drinking problem. But like Ike, she didn’t let this deter her from fulfilling her role on the team.

As a testimony to Mamie’s leadership role in America, her birthplace in Boone, Iowa, was dedicated as a historic site in 1980. The only other First Lady to be honored this way was Abigail Adams.

Together, the Eisenhowers were known for their focus on purpose, clarity of thought, and decisiveness in action. There was no middle ground.

That’s what made this leadership couple such an effective team during a time of turbulence and change.


What can couples learn today from Dwight & Mamie Eisenhower?

How can the value of teamwork help you in your marriage?


Today’s value was selected from the “Enthusiasm-Teamwork” category, based on the e-book Developing Your Differentiating Value.


1 Comment

  1. Hey Robert, I was looking for your email so I can invite you and Lori to a little “do” we’re having, and here I am discovering all sorts of other wonderful things about you via your website and blogs. I feel very blessed to have a marriage and partnership that is a constant source of pleasure and pride. I think we do many things right. Not that we can’t improve. So I look forward to reading your blogs and staying connected this way. Still hope to see you before we leave. Warmly, Rachel


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