As you prepare for Christmas, I have lightly modified a post from years ago.
About 32 years ago, I used to speak about managing the stress of the holidays. Those presentations were loosely based on the book Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. In it, the authors, Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli, focused on four main themes:
- Prioritize gift-giving to those who truly need your gifts
- Engage in activities (across a well-paced holiday season – not just a day) that connect with your deepest personal values
- Seek to be a peacemaker among friends and family
- Commit to spiritual growth
Over time, I’ve come to believe we don’t need to and quite frankly can’t “Unplug the Christmas Machine” – that machine will run even if you or I were to find a way to unplug it.
I suspect our efforts are better spent focusing on how to create humanity-rich experiences this time of year. To that end, I offer some thoughts I’ll lovingly call “gifts” for the season. These gifts can be given to:
- Team Members
- Family and Friends
- Smile – A smile and genuine graciousness can stand out and comfort customers during the holiday crunch.
- See My Unique Humanity – When the pace picks up, it’s easy to get into a groove where people blur into transactions. You may be doing your 50th identical transaction of the day, but that transaction involves a person, and for that person, this is likely their only interaction with you today. Honor people – their visits and their business.
Team Member Gifts
- Drive Positive Energy – My friend Johnny Yokoyama (the former owner of the Pike Place Fish Market) notes that what “shows up” in the workplace reflects what leaders create. Joyful workplaces begin with joyful, energetic, and caring leaders. There is never a more critical time for positive joyfulness than in this high-stress/high-volume period of the year.
- Serve, Don’t Sell – If you focus on serving your people and keeping them focused on serving others – your sales will follow.
Family and Friends Gifts
- Focus on the Memorable – With very few exceptions, the most memorable aspects of the season are not the tangible presents but the experiences shared with people we love.
- Be Present NOW – I used to think I would savor the holiday season more fully next year. Aging and unexpected life circumstances have helped me realize that we don’t know how or if we will experience the holiday surrounded by the people assembled this year. Since there is no rewind button, mulligan, or do-overs, THIS IS the season to savor!
Thanks for being a part of my musings this year. To reflect and reenergize with my loved one, this will be my last blog for the year. I wish you the opportunity to reflect and re-energize with your loved ones as well. May you have the best holiday of your life.
From my faith tradition, I wish you a Merry Christmas!