Normally, I wouldn’t write a memorial blog about someone, but Margaret was someone special and she inspired me. Let me tell you about her. Margaret was just 50 when she recently died of a brain aneurysm while engaging in the swimming portion of a triathlon. She never recovered, and in fine Margaret tradition, she donated her organs to those in need. She was quite beloved: a husband, youngish children, a very large extended family. She was actually a triplet, one girl and two boys. The reach of her friendship network was enormous. A social subtype 7, she loved groups in general, but also people in particular. Her motto was something like this: “Don’t tell why something can’t be done; let’s figure out how to do it!”
I first met her when my extensive work with the Enneagram at Genentech (now Roche-owned) first began in 2004. If Todd Pierce, the then VP of IT was the father of the Enneagram at Genentech, Margaret was the mother. Margaret picked up the system more quickly than anyone I had ever met, including how to guide others to type themselves, the development and spiritual aspects of the Enneagram, and more. She was so good that I often used her to assist me, Todd put her in charge of the entire Enneagram effort, and she co-taught the Enneagram with me at Genentech (along with Chris Holder) after having been through both Train-the-Trainer programs. Participants loved her, and her enthusiasm for the system was contagious. So much did she love the Enneagram that she shared it with her family (it made a huge difference), relatives, friends, co-workers, bosses, professional friends, and people on airplanes.
Our relationship moved past a lovely professional one to a friendship. Although I was not in her very closest circle of friends (nor she mine), we were close and kept contact after she left Genentech for another organization. While she was still at Genentech, Margaret noticed a purse I was wearing and fell in love with it – “The perfect traveling purse,” as she called it. And she had to have one! The problem was I had purchased it at LAX international duty free, and that was the only place to buy another, if they still had it. So we reached an agreement; the next time I was there (3 months later), I would look. I found the purse, called her on her cell, and it was bought! She wore the purse with great joy, sleek, over the shoulder, lots of good compartments. This is only one among many Margaret stories, but I use it to highlight the level of friendships she was able to create with women (and men, too).
My second Margaret story was something profound that occurred in my “Coaching with the Enneagram” program in Minnesota (2011). Margaret was a participant like any other (well, Margaret was actually never like anyone else!), and on the fourth day, I was demonstrating the art of reframing as a positive coaching tool. The process I use is to have a volunteer sit at the front and describe a dilemma that they have not been able to resolve on their own, then to use the 7s in the group to sit behind this person and reframe the situation in as many different ways as possible. Typically, there are 3-5 Sevens in my programs to use as reframers, but this time, it was only Margaret. Knowing her agile mind and reframing abilities, I went with her as the sole reframer. But little did I know what the dilemma would be.
To share the content would violate the volunteer’s privacy, but I will just say that it was a gruesome medical experience that was so serious that I said, “I don’t think reframing can help here, but then I can’t think of anything else that might work, so we have to trust the process.” In reality, this meant trusting the actual process, but also trusting Margaret as a solo reframer, trusting the group, and trusting myself to handle it all.
When the volunteer’s story was shared, there was not a dry eye in the group. Margaret looked stunned, so I said, “Just start, ” and did she ever. Margaret reframed so well and so quickly that after 8 or so reframes of the situation, the volunteer simply relaxed. Some of the reframes were actually very useful, but what the volunteer said was this: “I could not find my way beyond this; just the fact that different perspectives were there that I had not considered makes me feel less trapped and more hopeful about possibilities.”
This was the impact of Margaret, making the impossible possible. I know she was even stunned by her impact. Each person in the program had something deep and moving to say, and then we all sat in complete silence for about 30 minutes. Words would have gotten in the way. All of us actually experienced a state of grace, as if angels had come into the room, which most of us thought they did.
Margaret was an angel herself and an angel mover. And I will miss her terribly.