The Greatest Holiday Present©

‘Tis the season – the holiday season that is. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, some other holiday, or no holiday, the holiday season is always a part of the month of December. What that means for each of us depends a little bit on which specific holiday (or holidays) you celebrate, but there’s always a common theme during every holiday season. It’s called hustle and bustle, shopping, parties, celebrations, distractions, traffic, friends, family and the overwhelming sense of too much to do and too little time in which to do it all. Rather than having an enjoyable holiday season, it’s often a time of heightened stress, a sense of overwhelmed and frayed nerves (or even tempers). Some holiday season, huh!?

That’s why I want to talk about the greatest holiday present and, no, it’s not jewelry, it’s not a car, and it’s not the latest hot toy of the season. In fact, it’s quite literal – being present with the people that matter to you, including your family, friends, partners and team members. Rather than searching for presents this holiday season, allow yourself to be present. Rather than figuring out how to cram as much into a single season, day or evening, commit yourself to being present with everyone, at every event and for every gathering. Rather than focusing on how much you can do, figure out how you want to show up with the people that matter in your life and business.

Numerous people over the years have been credited with this famous saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” (Teddy Roosevelt, John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, etc.). Unfortunately, we’ve come to equate caring with the giving of gifts when the greatest gift we can give to someone else is time – more precisely, the gift of fully present time. Nothing says you care more than giving someone your undivided attention, even if only for a brief period of time. Instead of figuring out the best gift or card to send to your clients, give them an unexpected (and off the clock) phone call just to tell them that you appreciate them and their business; wish them a happy holiday season and express how much you’re looking forward to working with them in 2016.

When you hit the streets, stores and malls (ugh) for your shopping, instead of rushing, keeping your head down and focusing on the tasks at hand, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Offer a smile or a kind word to the employees working at the stores, counters and kiosks. Imagine the kind of hectic holiday season they’re having and how much your kind words, attention and smile will improve their day. Watch and experience your children as they experience the holidays in their own way. Children have a unique perspective and experience of the holidays, and we often miss out because we’re so busy doing that we miss the opportunity to watch them have their holiday experiences. Watch the people around you during the holiday and catch people having a joyous time (so you can have a little piece of their experience). And here’s a novel idea – walk around (everywhere) during the holidays with a big smile on your face just because it’s the holiday season (rather than the traditional lawyer Scrooge scowl that you typically wear during the holidays).

In case you missed it, 2015 is almost over and most of you are regularly commenting on how fast the year went and how you can’t believe it’s already the holiday season. Guess what? December and the holiday season will go just as fast, if not faster, so make sure you don’t miss it and make sure you actually savor it. When you gather with friends and family, resist the urge to always be in a hurry and sit down and listen to them. Really listen to them. Rather than rush to the television set to watch a football game, pull someone aside and give them the gift of your full attention and presence. While there will always be time for the cooking and food, make sure that you give just as much time and attention to conversations and laughter. The meals and the gifts will soon be forgotten, but the precious time and conversations will last a lifetime.

This all may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to realize because most everyone else is caught up in the hustle, bustle and more. You’ll be consistently tempted and even pushed to hurry, scurry about and stay busy, and it will take purposeful attention to stay present when everyone around you is distracted and running. But it’s worth it. Giving others and yourself the gift of being present is indeed all too rare, but you’ll find that it’s most certainly the greatest gift you can give this holiday season, and in fact the whole year round. Whether or not the gift of being present is on anyone’s holiday gift list, make sure you put it on your own giving list – the most amazing gift that you’ll give to everyone this holiday season. Wishing you all a blessed and present holiday season!


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