This excerpt is from “The Heart-Led Leader” by Tommy Spaulding, reprinted with permission of the publisher, Crown Business.
Five years ago my wife and I decided to hire a nanny to help with child care. After getting some recommendations from friends and interviewing several candidates, we decided to hire an impressive young woman from Virginia, an honors graduate of the College of William & Mary who was looking for a temporary job before leaving to join the Peace Corps.
Just before we completed the details, though, my wife suggested that we interview one more candidate, a young woman named Nikki who was related to a family friend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nikki had led a tough life, and her mother, Teresa, thought it would benefit her daughter to leave Santa Fe for a period of time. Teresa offered to email us a picture of Nikki. The photo we received was of a young Hispanic woman with a warm smile wearing a white tank top. But as I focused more clearly on the picture, I noticed multiple piercings in Nikki’s ears and colorful tattoos across her chest, arms, and neck. I could barely see her skin beneath all the tattoos. And for some reason I just couldn’t get past the tattoos. I showed the photo to Jill and said, “There is no way we are hiring a nanny with all these tattoos to come live with us and help raise our children.” Jill counseled me to keep an open mind. “Everyone has a story,” she said. “Nikki may not be right for us, but at least take the time to talk with her.”