The Power of the Pink Bandana

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Wearing a pink bandana around your head in my house growing up meant something big was about to happen. My father used it as an indicator to the world that work was going to be done…hard work. Blood, sweat and tears work. The kind of work that makes huge changes in short order. It was always a little mysterious and a lot exciting when the bandana was tied on. My dad, Pete Wells, would put the bandana on most often when it was moving day.

Moving homes, flipping a house, renovating a salon, tearing down a wall, that kind of thing. By the end of the day, that bandana was less than fresh but with a story to tell. Now granted I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when wearing a bandana was in fashion, but I sported one for every field hockey game or track meet. I would have worn one for gymnastics too if it had been allowed!

The practice of wearing it like Pete did indicated the same message from me as it did from him….big things were going to happen. Did that mean everything was sunshine and rainbows? Absolutely not. That bandana had a front row seat to a lot of ugly. Anger, frustration, defeat, but fortunately never surrender. It was as if that small square of cloth packed with it some extra special energy for endurance and the power to prevail. Besides seeing the rough side of hard work, it also had the privilege of seeing victory up close. Not just being a passenger to the glory but it saw all the steps along the way on the grind that got us there. I suppose the bandana was a witness to progress, change, and growth. That power is enormous.

Today I wear my pink bandana not just as an homage to my dad’s work ethic, but for all he stood for and the bigger symbol that it represents. Pete believed I could do or be anything. No barriers, no boundaries. He always said, “the only thing that will ever get between you and success is the government and your own head.” He was so right. I have only been limited to my imagination and daring and only ever slowed down by regulation. I love that he loved pink, a color that represents compassion, love and hope. I gave the members of my moving team a pink bandana and shared my story about him and its meaning. I was so touched to see them wearing the bandanas all weekend! They were able to harness a little bit of that pink power as we all moved forward as a team to accomplish things big and small without pre-conceived boundaries or limits.

As I move forward in my professional life with a giant step in building a new campus, Pete’s tradition of wearing a bandana on moving day reminds me of all it represents. I tapped into every bit of the energy that square of cloth holds. It pushed me forward, held me up, and watched me soar. I am grateful to him and that small piece of cloth and I realize I need to wear it more often.