Outstanding Holidays Don’t Just Happen
A season all about Family, Faith, and Friends. For many, it’s also a time of Food, Football, Festivities, Fun—and Freedom. Not just the blessing of living in a “free country,” but also maybe—just maybe—a little less tied to our jobs and a little more sleeping, puttering, and simply doing nothing on some days! Sounds great, doesn’t it?
But how about these words? Frenetic—a crazy, stress-filled pace. Finances—jubilant joy leads to dangerous debt. Frustration—things don’t quite go the way we planned. Fear—of being alone, left out. Fatigue—we simply do too much and return in January needing the month just to recover!
The reality is this: The holidays, for lots of people, just aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. Though we want them to stand out—that is, to be outstanding—they often fall short of our expectations. But, with some work, some discipline, and some adherence to fundamental ideas and principles, we can each experience an exceptional season.
By extracting concepts from the book Outstanding!—yes, written for the world of corporations, nonprofits, government entities, churches and schools—and applying them to this time of year, we can make the best of the holidays. And since most holiday celebrations involve families—which are organizations—let’s utilize the essences of nine of the 47 Outstanding! chapters to create a stellar season!
Choose to Change: Holiday traditions are great, but remember: Any strength taken to an extreme becomes a weakness. Outstanding families, like outstanding organizations, are willing to set aside “the way we’ve always done things” now and then. Keeping the end goals of joy, fun, and celebration in mind, we might need do things differently. Never forget: Blessed are the flexible, for they cause others to not get bent out of shape!
Keep the Mission Top of Mind: If you believe the “reason for the season” is faith (worshiping God and being thankful) and/or family (traditions and coming together) then don’t forget the “Why” behind the activities. Let purpose come before tasks, otherwise, the tasks can overwhelm the mission—and what’s the sense in that?
Get Actions In Line With Values: If we espouse values like love, caring, and acceptance, let’s ensure that our behaviors support those ideas. Integrity—actions in line with stated values—is a rare commodity in our world, so let’s allow that light to shine at home. Example: If we embrace the word “humility,” let’s avoid boasting, bragging, and topping each other in our interactions. Another: If I say I believe in relaxing and resting, then draw a few boundaries and say NO! if you really want to. It’s okay to not participate in some activities this time of year.
Fight the Fat: And we’re not talking about calories here! As Dave Ramsey says, when it comes to finances, “Bother to bother.” In other words, decide to stay on top of and in control of the dollars. By cutting up the plastic money and living within our means, we’ll experience a far more joyous … January!
Forgive Mistakes: What could be a more perfect way to achieve outstanding holidays than to let some stuff slide? Humans sometimes do say the wrong thing, make mistakes, exercise poor judgment, drop the ball, and forget to act. When these things happen, it’s an amazing opportunity to choose forgiveness. Practice the words, “No big deal. Let’s forget it.”
Let Every Player Count: A little lifting up of each person is a good thing. Careful that one individual’s needs and agenda don’t “rule the roost.” Let’s do our best to help each person—from 2 to 92—feel special. It’s a time to honor everyone on the team!
Speak Well: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) So true! As the tension and stress build, make sure that the way we talk to others—both our words and tone—is encouraging, loving, and supportive.
Listen In All Directions: In Outstanding! we write about listening in three ways: Management listening to the people, the people listening to each other, and everyone listening to the customer. My favorite part is where we take “multi-tasking” to task as a very bad habit. During these precious days, let’s set the iPods, laptops, and PDAs aside—cease the Tweeting, status updating, and surfing—and look each other in the eye, saying, “Go ahead, you are the most important person in my world at this moment and I want to hear every word you have to say.”
Someone Needs to Be the Boss: Lastly, parents, I beseech you—please parent! Family gatherings are hurt when the wrong people are in charge: the children. Let’s hold our kids to a new (yet old fashioned) level of respect, manners, and courtesy. The truth is, it’s not all about the children—and sometimes they need to know that. If your young child needs a really long “time out,” then take action. Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that—surprise, surprise!—you are the boss.
So there they are: Nine ways to have an outstanding holiday season. Share this with others—apply them yourself—and see what a difference they can make. And then come back in 2011 ready to make our organizations outstanding, too!
John G. Miller
Author of …