Team

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?


Are You Ready To Be Human?

"Touch has a memory" - John Keats



We have two pet cats that roam our farmland. Very spoiled cats. They get to romp about all day and do what cats do. They follow me around the garden – for attention and treats of course. They are outdoor cats, yet they have a kitty door, heated garage, and canned cat food.  They frolic over the rocks on our pond and roll around in my Catmint flowers. There are plenty of shrubs to nap in and mice to catch. We are a cat allergic family so the outdoors is their home.

This past winter we started seeing a stray cat trailing Leo and Charlie. I quickly guessed that it was a “she”, especially when some kittens popped up this spring under our shed. 4 tiny kittens darted around the yard and scavenged food wherever they could find it – especially from our garage. My kids jumped into action and caught one of the kittens. They put him in our large empty rabbit cage as he hissed and growled away. As tiny as he was, I was hesitant to get near him, let alone touch him.

We steadfastly gave “Jinx” food and kitty treats. Slowly each day the kids tentatively touched his head as he hissed and nipped away. Then they would lightly pet his head as we crooned sweet words at him.  From there we were able pet him without him acting up. We progressed to being able to pet his whole body. The kids held and cuddled him. He played with them and quickly walked up to us wanting attention. Incidentally, he also began yearning for treats and ran to us when he heard the bag crinkle. Our hissing, nipping little kitten had turned into a playful, lovable, attention seeking little guy – all because of human touch.

Our kitten experience really touched me and I’ve continued to think about it. I saw an amazing transformation in this tiny being in a span of a week. All it took was belief that this little fellow could change through the caring use of human touch and a desire to make a difference.

 Guess what? We are quite similar to the little kitten.  Some human care, touch, and attention also bring out our best. We all respond to someone believing in us, giving us attention, and giving us what we need to grow. Who have you helped lately with a little human attention?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around” – Leo Buscaglia

One of the things that I love about managing people is bringing out their best. People flourish when they feel empowered and know that someone has faith in them. Just a touch of interest, encouragement, and belief in someone is key. Are you ready to get human?

The power of being human to your team

·         Builds commitment to values and goals. People are committed when they have a stake.
·         Teams that are asked for their input and form a road map are engaged.
·         Open communication bubbles up ideas and new technologies. To share is human.
·         Emotional connections build trust and allegiance.
·         People  read non-verbal communication more so than verbal. Sharing human expression builds understanding.
·         Being partners is a relationship. People who are in a human focused relationship are empowered to extend partnerships to those they work with and even customers.
·         The more interest that we take in each other, the less judgmental we become. Team members don’t want to be judged and want the autonomy to grow.
·         Resistance to change is a human trait. It becomes easier when people are connected to it and they don’t resist what they understand.


Just as the human touch and new emotional bond with our feral kitten changed his behavior, you too can change others by simply being human.