Look for the ONE!

Image courtesy of Dog Happy Art via Compfight CC

"Do not be afraid to go out on a limb...that's where the fruit is" - Anonymous

It's that time of year when a lot of  people venture out to find "The One". I'm not referring to that perfect gift, but the perfect tree. For the 25% of the population that embark on finding and cutting down a live tree every year, it's a serious business!

About 30 million Christmas trees are sold every year in the US and they are grown in all 50 states. For every tree cut, 1-3 seedlings are planted the following Spring. With over 15,000 tree farms in America there are a lot of varieties and types of trees available to pick from. Evergreens can take 15 years to grow 6-7 feet tall and the key growing states include Oregon, N. Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington. Real Christmas Tree Org
Among the most popular Christmas trees cut each year, Firs (Douglas, Balsam, Fraser), Pines (Scotch, White) and Spruce (White, Norway, Blue) are favorites. Preferences depend on the price that you are willing to pay, where you live, and the shape, size, branch or needle length that you like. Leyland Cypress are a popular choice in the Southeastern area of the country and the Virgina Pine is a favorite in the South. Real Christmas Tree Org
It takes focus, patience, and teamwork to find THE right tree. First, you need to find the best tree farm or pre-cut lot to explore. That's just the beginning! Here's some things to keep in mind:
  • Make sure that you measure your space before leaving the house!
  • Research ahead of time the different species of evergreens and the attributes of each
  • Always do a branch needle test. Make sure that the needles are fresh and pliable
  • Avoid cut trees that have needle loss, pale color, smell musty, or have wrinkled bark
  • Smell your way to the right tree! One of the best reasons to cut a real tree is for the alluring fragrance
  • Stand back and look at the true shape and branch length of the tree
  •  If you really go green and opt for a balled or potted live tree, make sure that it isn't in your house for more than 1 week. Have the planting hole prepared ahead of time with the dirt stored in a warm garage
  • Cutting and hauling your tree is not a one person job unless you are superhuman!

When your prized possession arrives home make sure that you honor it by actually taking care of it! Cut off about an 1/2 inch off the base of the trunk to help it pull up water. Keep the tree stand full and check it every day. Keep the tree away from heat sources and sunny windows. Spray it with Wilt Pruf to preserve the moisture in the needles. Don't let your animals climb the tree and let everyone know how much time and effort it took to find "The One!"

Throughout our lives, in a variety of ways, we are always looking for "The One". We search for the right school, right life partner, the best job, the perfect family. Sometimes we find it, sometimes it remains so very elusive. In the leadership arena, every once in awhile we find ourselves eagerly acknowledging that we are truly seeing "The One".

I had this epiphany a few weeks ago when I read a story about Pope Francis. It was an article about how the Pope sneaks out to break bread with the poor. How he has defied the trappings and pomp of being the Pope. He lives in a simple home with his own belongings. He has blatantly fought corruption and has fired people at the Vatican for their extravagance. He drives his own 20 year old car. He doesn't really dig the "Pope Mobile". He seems "real" to people. Francis has engaged with newlyweds outside and greets people while willingly joining in their pictures. He Tweets. He focuses on individuals in need. He genuinely seems to care about real people. He follows through with action, not just rhetoric. He's given hugs to over 100 wheelchair-bound followers in a visit. He embraces those that may be disfigured and understands them. He seems to connect with his followers and is humble yet real despite his position. Francis randomly makes his own personal calls to reach out to others without a secretary. He leads with a sense of humor and clearly doesn't have himself up on a pedestal. The list goes on and on.

Religious preferences aside, you have to recognize and acknowledge the incredible leadership skills that Pope Francis exhibits. He truly possesses traits that rare great leaders have and traits that we should all aspire to develop. For me, Pope Francis is a leader that readily jumps into my mind. He will also stay with me as I grow in my leadership.

Leadership traits that "The One" has:

  • Humble and simple
  • Authentic and "real"
  • Caring with a strong emotional IQ
  • Ability to connect and engage
  • Sense of humor
  • Honesty
  • Great communication skills
  • Confidence and strength to do what is right - willingness to go against the norm and out on a limb
  • Commitment
  • Positive attitude
  • Ability to aspire and show vision
  • Intuition and going with your "gut" in tough times
  • Ability to delegate so that you can focus on what you need to
  • Creativity in accomplishing your goals (Pope Francis sneaks out so he can administer to people - in disguise!)

It's no wonder that this week Time Magazine named Pope Francis as their Man of the Year. They easily recognized him as "The One" for 2013. His leadership skills and unconventional way of reaching out to others is truly inspiring and down right awesome!

Hopefully this holiday season has found you locating "The One" Christmas tree to fit into your holiday cheer and celebrations. "The One" stands out in a crowd and is immediately recognized. As I continue down the leadership path, I have easily found "the One' that stands out to me among all others. I am writing down the leadership traits above that Pope Francis has shown us all this past year and I am  going to work on growing each and every one of them!

What or who is YOUR ONE this year?

Photo courtesy of the Catholic Church via Compfight