Remembering Our Priorities

With another holiday season upon us, our work lives tend to fall into two categories.  We are either incredibly busy and need to work every hour to stay above water.  Or it is our slow season, with skeletal staffs in the office and early departures.

Sitting in church this a couple weeks ago, I came up with the idea for this post.  It is a time for “family”.

As I reflected on the message, I came to realize that family can be something different, yet meaningful, for each of us.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write about it and share my feelings.

Personally, I have many different families.  I have my immediate nuclear family.  I have my father and brother (my mother is no longer with us).   I have my in-laws, who graciously accepted me as part of their family over 25 years ago.  I have my Boy Scout family, having met many of these people as acquaintances and having those relationships morph into friendships over the years.  I have my church family.  I have my work family and I have the families of two former employers with people I grew close to over the course of 15 years in one case and just 1 year in the other.  I am very blessed.

Others find this season to be truly depressing.  Maybe they don’t have the nuclear or blood families to share their holidays with.  And they may not think of the other circles of people in their lives as family.  They feel alone.

As leaders, we need to have an awareness of all the situations our staffs are in.  Not to intrude on their respective private lives but to be AWARE.

This season is busy, stressful, can be depressing and joyful all rolled into one.  I know personally, we’re juggling Christmas with my family, Christmas with my in-laws, Christmas Eve service, a small party after church, hosting an Eagle Scout Court of Honor, having our own open house and having visitors for a week all at the same time.  Stressful?  To be sure. Joyous?  Absolutely.  Frankly, I don’t know when we’re going to be able to take a pause and a deep breath.

This can also be an incredibly judgmental season.  Varying family and religions traditions cause strife and it gets perpetuated in the media.

The message from church was interesting as related to this.

Don’t judge, ask with inquisitiveness.  Seek to understand.  To the person with all the tattoos or piercings, try and understand their perspective about why they wanted to choose this path.  And just listen and don’t talk.

To the person on the other end of the political spectrum, try to understand how they came to find that passion.  Again, don’t talk.  It’s harder than you may think.

And when you sit down at the table to eat, make it a no technology zone.  Just listen and try to see others’ perspectives.

Any good leader knows that we should listen more than we talk.  And any good leader knows that is difficult to do.  But let’s all give it a try this season.  For your parents or grandparents, listen to their stories with a new ear.  They won’t always be around and this is the place family lore comes from.  For the little ones, listen to their laughter and joy, they grow up so fast.  One minute they are toddlers, the next they are graduating from high school or college.

The same goes at work, your staff will all have their traditions, joys and concerns.  Take some time and listen to them too.  Tune out the noise, they are part of your family too.  Take some time out, however brief it may be, and thank your staff.  Not just because it’s the holidays but because you likely don’t thank them enough anyway.

Both at home and in the office, let’s all take a step back.  Put life in perspective.  Tune out the noise.  Reflect.  Enjoy what you see and hear.