Tamela Eady: Trust, but verify -- lessons from Wallenda


Editor's Note: The author of this column, previously written under the byline Tamela Wiseman, is now using her maiden name, Eady.


Are there lessons that community association directors can learn from Nik Wallenda's death-defying sky walk last Tuesday in downtown Sarasota? I think so. I learned some.

Nik — I don't know him but did have the pleasure to see him perform at Circus Sarasota — and his family have been described as fearless. Does "fearless" mean the absence of fear? Not necessarily. In its best form, fearlessness means acknowledging and properly addressing the causes of the fear. It is good to do something that is positive, even if an acceptable amount of risk is involved or if vulnerability is exposed. One can and should be fearless without ever being reckless.

We all walk a tightrope of some kind, although not like a Wallenda. Times will come when decisions have to be made and, if we hesitate, we may just topple off that rope. All decisions carry risks, and indecision can be disastrous for any person, family or organization. Risks can only be managed; they can never be entirely eliminated.

Ronald Reagan often said "trust but verify." Volunteer boards need to make informed decisions and use professional advice before acting or choosing not to act. At the end of the day, however, the board must make the business decisions. I am sure Nik goes over every aspect of his act meticulously before even considering getting on that high wire.

I would prefer to be proactive in a client's affairs rather than have a board member show up on Monday morning with a stack of papers, which upon review shows that the association missed an important deadline the previous Friday.

A previously manageable situation has now become unmanageable. Indecision often is incapacitating.

I planned to go see Nik sky walk Tuesday, but when I got tied up, I had to cancel. Then, I had a cancellation, and I called back my friend who had invited me to see if it was still possible to get downtown. His response was only if I rode on the back of his motorcycle to get around the snarled traffic.

He knew of my terror of riding on motorcycles, so he put it this way: "You know I would never risk your safety. You can get over your little fear in order to see a man walk 500 feet in the air without a safety net or a tether, or you can just watch on TV."

I got on the bike. I trusted because I had verified, and I had a decision to make right then.

So what can a director or anyone else take from Nik's performance? Be prepared to act. Once you get up there, sometimes you can't just back down, so be careful before you get up there.

Know your stuff. Have people you trust to have your back.

Risk is a part of everyone's life; it is sometimes just a matter of scale. No matter how much you plan, sometimes unexpected things happen, and that's just life.

Ultimately, though, it is enough to know that if you work hard and your heart is in the right place, people will not be wishing to see you fall, but cheering you on to get to the other side.


Tamela Eady is a Florida Bar board-certified real estate attorney with 25 years' experience. The subjects discussed in her colummns are not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and are subject to principles that may change from time to time. Questions may be modified for clarity or for brevity. Email questions for possible inclusion in a future column to tew@lawbywiseman.com.


Last modified: February 3, 2013
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