Christmas

What Do Your Ornaments Say?

Photo Courtesy of Lynn Gardner via Flickr.com

The holiday spirit is among us and you can’t go anywhere without being cheered on by gawking lights and the blaring of holiday music. Most of us have our Christmas trees up and decorated with bling and empty stockings ready to accept candy and gifts.

Not only are Christmas trees a symbol of the holiday season, they all tell an individual story. I enjoy going to parties at friend’s homes to see what their tree looks like.  Moreover, I love to view the trees of those that I don’t know well at all. For me, Christmas trees can reveal so much about personality, hobbies, family, and history. For instance, our tree is a mix of homemade ornaments clinging to life after years of use. We have an assortment of character ornaments that reflect the different stages of toy or TV show obsessions from my four boys. There are ornaments reflecting hobbies and I even squeezed in some girly ornaments to balance out all the boy stuff on our tree. Although our tree is a hodgepodge of ornaments, it really does reflect who we are.

Have you stopped to really look at your tree this year to see if it reflects your personality or family history? Stand in front of it tonight all lit up in its splendor and I bet you will quickly pick up details that you never noticed before. Better yet, look closely at the holiday tree at your next party in the next few weeks and see what insights you pick up. You are your ornaments.

Let’s pretend for a moment that your team has been given a holiday assignment to brighten up the office and share some spirit.  Everyone is given an 18 inch Christmas tree to decorate and display on their desk. There’s a catch. You have to pick a specific colored string of lights that reflects your personality. Second, you have either craft your own ornaments or adorn the tree with items that reflect who you are and what you stand for. Needless to say, Barbie or Superman ornaments are not what we are looking for here.

Give this some thought. What would your tree look like and how will it reflect the real you? Here are some questions that you will need to ask yourself and be willing to bare to those around you:

  • Would you be comfortable sharing who you really are and dropping the mask that so many of us wear to work every day?
  • Do you feel confident that people would see your tree and agree with who you “are” every day at work?
  • What two things jump to mind about you that you would want to really showcase on your tree?
  • What two things would you feel really uncomfortable showcasing and why? Do you tend to show these habits at work?
  • What “thing” about you would be on the top of your tree because it truly is who you are or want to be?
  • Are you more of a showy person as reflected on your tree with tons of glitter and tinsel or are you more simplistic?
  • What themes would your tree reflect about you or do you feel more multifaceted than most people?
  • Would your heart show on your tree or would it be a subtle reflection?
  • How would you display your true passion on your tree?
  • What one thing about you would you want to display to others on your tree that you have never shared before?

 Hopefully by now you have a clearer vision in your mind of how your tree would look and what others would learn about you. The “ornaments” that we adorn our tree with are deep inside us and make us who we are. They are our values, morals, passions, and visions of our real selves to those around us.

Here’s a hint of what my tree would look like. I would circle it with bright red lights to reflect my passion for others. I would opt for thin tendrils of silver tinsel to share my flair for creativity. My ornaments would provide quick insight into my passions for learning, teaching, inspiring others to achieve, and empowerment. I’m sure that my love of gardening would also shine through as well. I would still need to place a bright gold angel on the top to guide me.

What would your ornaments say about you this holiday season?


A Letter From Santa

Photo courtesy of  stockimages via Freedigitalphotos.net
“Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy” – Edwin Osgood Grover

Happy holidays my friend,

Christmas is just days away and I hope that you have joy in your heart, you remember what Christmas is really all about, and that you are ready to share yourself with others this season. My hope is that a part of you still remembers the magic of this season and that you carry it with you until the next time we meet. I ask that you let your inner child come out this week and that you allow your eyes to sparkle, your actions empower others, and you give the best present of all – yourself.

It’s not always easy being Santa Claus. My spirit lives to give others hope and to help spread cheer and love. I glow from the love of children, yet my heart hurts when they stop believing. I represent a special magic to some, yet I am commercialized by too many. All I ever really wanted is what I want from you this season – give of yourself. Giving means different things to many people. It can be time, money, sharing your unique gifts, charity, empowerment, or love. Giving is meant to be personalized and unique.

I am more than just a symbol or character this season. I ache to bring meaning to others and to lift them up. I can’t do it alone and I need your help this coming year. Preparing for the holidays is a year long process in my business. Unfortunately, my team needs assistance with carrying the spirit of the holiday all year. We need you. I ask that in my absence, you be a leader for the season all year. Impact those around you and be “Santa” after next week….

At this point you may be wondering what I’ve been drinking in my milk or mixing in with my cookies. My friend let me demonstrate what I mean by sharing my own holiday leadership advice. Then I ask that you be Santa in my absence.

·         Keep a twinkle in your eye. Remain genuine and show an interest in others. Let your eyes show them that they are the most important person in the room when you are engaging.
·         Be jolly. Laugh and have fun. Make fun wherever you go and encourage others to join in. Laughter builds relationships and relieves stress.
·         Look out for the little people. My elves are my business. They are the foundation of my success and both the drivers and glue in our teams. Treat everyone equally and remember that your most important people aren’t your management team – it’s the people behind them!
·         Create magic when you enter a room. There are some people in the world that walk into a room and make everyone feel special and worthy. They remember names and families. They know the work and contributions of their people. Be that person. Bring magic into every interaction that you have.
·         Christmas is my favorite day of the year AND every day is Christmas for me. Bring this spirit with you every day. Bring joy to your work and if you don’t find that every day is Christmas – find your purpose elsewhere.
·         Decorate for the season. “Decorate” your people with praise, kindness, and thanks every day. Catch them doing things right and spread the word.
·         Believe. Genuinely believe in others and they will astound you with their efforts. We all ache to perform and make a difference. Give people the chance.
·         Hope. Hope is one of my favorite gifts during the holidays. When times are tough or things look bleak, give hope. Be a leader that inspires people and instills hope. Show them what can be and how important that they are to change.
·         Be yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I was ridiculed by others because of my bright red suit and snow white beard. Guess what? It’s who I am and what I represent. I don’t care what others think of me or that I’m being judged. I’m comfortable with myself and know there is so much more below the surface. Be confident in yourself. Be authentic and real. Know that you are special and it’s the inside that counts.

My friend, I could go on and on about how you can be “Santa” all year long. I’m not saying that I’m perfect or haven’t made mistakes. I have had centuries of experience, failings, and made unpopular life choices. I have learned what works my friend and encourage you to look deep inside yourself, learn from failure, and keep the spirit going next year.

May the joy of the holiday season inspire you to be the joy in the life of others. My hope is that kindness, love, and an interest in those around you encourages you to empower and bring gifts to those that you serve.

Joy and happiness,


Santa

How strong is Your Trunk?

Photo courtesy of Chrisroll via Freedigitalphotos.net
"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing" - Abraham Lincoln

This past week I experienced  a seemingly endless stream of cars topped with fresh cut Christmas trees on the roads. The weather in the Midwest continues to be in the 50-60s without a flake of snow in sight. Although people may not feel like its Christmas, the trees driving around tell a different story.

I must confess that as much of an avid gardener that I am, we have a fake tree.  I love the beauty, structure, and scent of real trees however, I’ve always had a hard time taking a beautiful, green, fresh tree and cutting it off at its knees. I prefer to plant my trees root intact. That being said, there is so much beauty, tradition, and fun in cutting down a holiday tree and bringing it into your home.
Christmas tree fields are a magical place to visit during the holiday season. They are full of some of the most popular trees for celebrating during December. You can choose from so many varieties:

·         White spruce
·         White Pine
·         Fraser Fir
·         Colorado Blue Spruce
·         Douglas Fir
·         Balsam  Fir
·         Scotch Pine

While growing, these trees absorb CO2, support wildlife, protect soil from erosion, and are biodegradable after they are done with the season.  Growers religiously plant 3 new trees for every tree that is cut down. If you really want to be green this Christmas you can purchase a live tree in a pot and then transfer it out into your landscape after Santa Claus visits. What these gems need is to have a pre-dug hole to be housed in and they cannot be placed in the house longer than 7-10 days. If they remain inside too long, they will dry out and have a hard time adjusting to the great outdoors. Christmas tree facts

As I’ve watched trees wiz by this past week one thought kept popping into my head “Why are potted trees double the price of cut trees even though they are half the size and not as commercialized”? Simple – the sum of the whole is worth far more than the parts – and so are you.  You see, humans aren’t really worth much if we don’t have strong “trunks” or our “roots” aren’t intact. In fact, without these natural attributes, we are just disjointed and trunked like a Christmas tree. We shine for a bit but in the end, the sparkle dims. There is so much more to us.

What makes us whole is our “roots”. Our roots make us who we are, help us grow, and are our life force. Your “trunk’ is your core and your values are your roots – a critical part that makes us human.  According to Dictionary.com values are the “fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. The guiding principles that dictate behavior and action”.  Your core values keep you on the right path and are your guiding force. They monitor your beliefs which impact your internal conduct. In short, they are our foundation just as the roots are to our Christmas trees.

Core values are different for everyone. They range from empathy to empowerment, honesty to accountability, or humble to courtesy. Only you can decide which values will ground and guide you. Values enable your “trunk” to remain strong and vibrant. Without them, you may weaken and become disjointed from your purpose or lose focus of your dreams. The big question that you need to ask of yourself is “what ARE my core values”?

I hate to tell you but your values aren’t going to knock you on the side of the head to let you know they are there. You need to go looking for them. Now, friends may be able to help because they often see what drives you or they know what you value. Ask them. You can also check in with your significant other – although be prepared for some bad with the good. Ultimately you need to rely on yourself for value identification and to learn what makes you tick. You need to become your own private shrink and look deep inside to pull out your top values. You also need to allow yourself time to quietly think about YOU.

Here’s how to find the values that make up YOU and ground you each and every day:


·         Find a comfy place to write and reflect. Write down every value that is a part of you, you admire in others, and really resonate with you. Write the first words that pop into your mind and don’t over think it.
·         As you write think about why what you are writing down has meaning. Make sure that you don’t write down who you want to be, but who you really are.
·         Look at your list and pick out the top 3-5 values that jump out. Again, don’t over think this. Write them down on a separate piece of paper and look at them. Put them in your phone, on a sticky note, in your planner. Become comfortable with them. Have them visually follow you.
·         Breathe your “new” values, live them, they are natural and they are YOU.
·         Whenever you have choices to make or a path to choose, ask yourself if your core values will be supported and your core will remain strong. If you have doubts, pull back and reflect.

Like a potted Christmas tree with a strong truck and healthy roots, you are more than just a tree this holiday season and beyond.  You are a complex miracle whose values make your core strong and keep you rooted where you belong, help you have an impact on your environment, and are the essence of you.


So. Just how strong is your trunk?