When I look back on the Christmases of my kidhood, I have lots of fond memories.
I remember when I got my Hot Wheels track, all shiny and orange (the loop-to-loop was amazing). I remember when I got my rock tumbler that I wanted so badly (but barely used). I remember my electric football game (with the Joe Namath action figure). I remember my slot hockey table (and how hard I had to work to get someone to play it with me).
And when I was young, I also remember hearing how it was better to give than to receive. It sounded good. But, seriously, what is better than an electric football game?
When I look back on recent Christmases, while I am always happy to receive gifts, my memories are of the gifts I gave and the reactions they invoked in the people I care about. Now “it is better to give than receive” isn’t just a nice thing to say, it is my belief, borne out by experience.
As this is posted, you are likely in the midst of your shopping, after all I am posting this on Cyber Monday. In this season of giving and receiving, of eating too much and perhaps relaxing too little, I want you to be a giving leader. What do I suggest you give? I’m glad you asked.
As you get started on your shopping, know that none of these things can be purchased in a store or online– yet they can be more precious and valuable to your team than any fruit basket, ham or even a Christmas bonus (though I’m sure people would appreciate that too):
Give your time. Are you available to your team when they need you? Don’t answer that question yourself, ask them if you are as available as they would like you to be.
Give your attention. This is more than your time and more than listening, though those are a good start. Don’t just pay attention; invest in others by offering your attention. Your willingness to give your full attention – especially when you are their leader – might be the best gift you could give.
Give your belief. Let people know you believe in them. Give them encouragement and support, but beyond that, let them know you believe in their ability to succeed.
Give a mulligan. Golfers are often offered a mulligan when a shot goes really poorly. Your team might try harder and try new things knowing that a mistake can be forgiven. Give your folks the opportunity for a “do-over.” Make mistakes made in an honest attempt to reach the goal OK. Remember, people can’t have multiple mulligans within a round of golf; similarly, people can’t make too many mistakes, but having a safety net when we fail is a valuable gift.
There are so many more things you could give; but hey, you need to do some of your own work here. Just ask yourself: “What could I give my team that would bless us both in deep and profound ways?”
Even though my mom taught me not to buy yourself anything before Christmas, you need to be on your shopping list too. Here are some gifts to give yourself this Christmas season:
Give yourself time. Everyone I know would like more time. While no one can manufacture any more of it, you can re-allocate it, giving you time for the most important things in your life. Give yourself the gift of time for your highest priority items at home and at work.
Give yourself confidence. You are here, which means you are doing the right things to help you build your skills and knowledge. When you apply what you continue to learn, your confidence will build. You have all the tools to be a Remarkable Leader, so go out and use them.