To be able to live a life and be known for elegance and sophistication is no easy matter. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan gracefully accomplished this with poise. Having lived nearly a full century, she was on the forefront of an American landscape that had dramatically changed in her ninety-four years of life on earth. Technology, social movement and increased opportunity all were prevalent themes signifying great positive disruption across our land at the time of her birth. Henry Ford had just begun to democratize owning a vehicle by mass-producing it at a low-cost, the first world war had just come to an end and airplanes were connecting the world like never before.
A New Yorker, she starred in over ten movies and performed on Broadway before she began her romance with Ronald Reagan and became the First Lady of California and eventually, the United States of America.
Mrs. Regan belongs in a special pantheon alongside former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy with her penchant for fashion and glamour. As First Lady for the U.S., Mrs. Reagan made it clear to her presidential husband that establishing a strong rapport with his Russian counterpart, Mikhael Gorbachev, was essential to the success of on-going negotiations to end the decades old Cold War that brewed without end. Did this strategy help bring about closer ties that bind between Russia and America? We will never know. In Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War, the author points out that the consummate warrior balks schemes and plans way ahead of time, thus assuring victory long before the notion of battle may come into view. The first lady may have accomplished this by prompting President Reagan to ensure his relationship with President Gorbachev was… ironclad.
In my own work as a Special Educator and mentor, I know that a strong relationship built on respect, compassion, empathy, honesty, teamwork and integrity lay the tracks for a positive outcome. These soft, intangible skills are actually the hardest to fine-tune. In the end, Mrs. Reagan was that great woman that stood behind a great man and prompted him to make just about all the right moves, or enough of the right moves to win the favor of the American people for almost a full decade.
She had style and she had grace.