Are You Spreading Christmas Spirit?

As we approach the week of Christmas, the excitement starts to increase as people look forward to spending time with family, friends and away from work. It’s as if we heave a collective sigh of relief that we have once again made it through another working year.

So are you spreading the Christmas spirit? As we get into the Christmas madness it is important to take the time to spread kindness and goodness to others. When you are looking for that special gift for someone are you smiling at others? Are you showing joy and thankfulness?  

Once a year I have a ritual that I have been following since I was first trained in Native American philosophy. It is a meditative prayer that I was taught that gets me to remember all of the people that have come across my path over the past year. I take the time to visualise them and thank them for being a part of my life over the past year. This can be a very powerful (and humbling) experience.   

You decide who and how much time you would like to commit to being thankful (note: this is a great activity to do when you are going on a long drive as it allows the different people you have come across to randomly come into your thoughts as it can take a few hours).

Remember to just send some positive thoughts their way and to be thankful for what they have shared with you. Also, be prepared to realise that some of the interactions with some of these people could have been stressful at the same time, however, there is often a message of learning that you may have received from the experience (even if it was painful at the time!)

By taking a few minutes or a few hours to remember everything and everyone that we are thankful for we can reconnect and realign our energy to allow ourselves to make things just a bit better. And remember to smile to others and spread that Christmas spirit!

To all my friends and family I wish you a safe and connected holiday season.

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Resist The End of Year Pressure

We have finally reached the middle of December. The last month of the year and everyone is busily trying to get everything completed before the holiday season and some time off. The number of meeting requests has increased and the number of projects that need to be completed has now reached breakneck speed.  

People are starting to show the strain and in a number of discussions with leaders, they are noticing the pressure and the increase in negativity. I had a discussion with a Senior Manager this week who had noticed that she had to intervene in a number of situations where staff tensions had started to boil over. She has realised the exhaustion that people are feeling have caught up with them and it was spreading across her office.

Most people have mentioned that they have been under pressure and flat out and just need a break, especially at this time of year. The question becomes how can you keep them focused, and positive. Especially before many office Christmas parties where a few alcoholic drinks can muster up the desire to tell others what people really think of them and unload their frustration.

I believe that there are a couple of things you can do to help create a more positive environment to help your people last until the holiday break:

Remain Calm—and put others at ease. An important step to take is to remember to breathe. When we get tense and stressed we do not think clearly. Stay calm with others and recognise they have had a busy year and that everyone needs a break and that we still want to create a positive workplace over the next couple of weeks. I know of one client that used post-it notes and had their staff identify 3 things that were stressing them out and put them on a wall so everyone was aware of it. Sometimes allowing staff to verbalise the pressure that they are feeling allows them to reduce some of the pressure and be able to move forward. 

Let them know you appreciate them. Let your staff know that you appreciate them and the efforts that they have put in the past year. Take the time to actively go to them individually and check in with them. Give them feedback to let them know you have noticed the extra efforts that they may have made to meet recent deadlines. Often just showing you care will help give them the boost they need to get to the holiday escape.

Give them a few rewards. Rather than waiting for the common holiday bonuses, start to spread some early holiday cheer by giving staff a few simple rewards. This can be taking them to lunch or getting some food delivered in. It may involve a few gift cards for movies, shopping or meals that they may be able to keep themselves or reuse with their family. I know of one client that organised a massage therapist to come in and give their staff 20-minute massages at their desk, the energy in the office shifted immediately – all for a $300 spend. Often it is the little things that people remember and small rewards can be a great method to help people get to the end of the year.

So, what are you going to do to help your people make it to the holiday break? Remember by doing a few simple things you can ensure that they go to their time off with a positive mindset.

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Starting the Race to Christmas – Get Ready!

It’s started… the race towards Christmas. This is the time of year when you try to cram every little thing in before the holiday break. Home is usually busy with school events (end of year dance concerts, Christmas carols and everything in between!) and the mad rush to get a tree and pick out whom you are buying presents for.   

At work, people reach a sprinting pace. I spoke with a client recently who was putting in massive hours this over the next 2 weeks so she could get everything finished before Christmas. This is a common pattern at this time of year and the stress levels can start to rise!

This started me thinking around what can people do to not become stressed out and a grumpy “Grinch” leading up to the holidays and I am not just talking about work. Many people become even more stressed out at home as they have to shift their routine for more school pick-ups and rehearsals as well as trying to organise the numerous Christmas events that are on the calendar.

So what can you do to stay calm and be the happy and stress free person that everyone loves to be around?

Starting the Race to Christmas:

  1. Mentally Prepare. Just like any sporting event, you need to take the time to be mentally and physically ready. Make sure that you take the time to exercise and move to release the stress to enable the endorphins to kick in which keeps us happy. Also, make sure that you take the time to stay healthy. With many parties leading up to the holidays make sure that you focus on the good stuff (or remember every drink is an extra 3km run the next day!)
  2. Remember to Embrace the Spirit of the Holidays. For children, Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. It is a time of presents, holidays and yummy food. Sometimes we forget about this. Take the time to reconnect with the spirit of the holidays. Also share a special memory from when you were a child of some of the joy that you had whilst growing up.
  3. Spread the Cheer to Anyone & Everyone. Remember to spread positive energy to those around you. Giving someone a simple smile when you look at them can simply make their day. Be someone that others want to hang out with because of the positive energy that you are spreading. Also, be Santa to someone that does not know you. Help those in need and give them a bit of Christmas cheer as well.

Although the push to Christmas can be a bit stressful, by being more mindful and keeping everything in perspective we can make a positive difference to our colleagues, friends, and family.

If you would like to work with me on making 2020 an incredible year, please send me an email for a free phone consultation where I will share a few quick strategies and tell you about my 2020 Personal Leadership Program.

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Who Are You Thankful For?

In the US Thanksgiving is a massive holiday. Yes, it has the common American commercialisation (who doesn’t love a Black Friday Sales!) but at its core, it is about something much deeper.

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was about spending time with family and the people you loved and taking the time to reflect on what you were truly thankful for. I think that it is a wonderful ritual that we should do more often.  

If you are like me, this year has been a bit exhausting. There have been plenty of challenges, ups, and downs as well as some recent deaths that have brought sadness.  

However, when I look back over the year there is plenty that I have to be thankful for. I’m fortunate to have good health and enjoy some wonderful times with my wife and kids. When my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer, I made a commitment to fly back every 90 days to spend time with him and my mother, wow I am so thankful that I did. There is something about being thankful and grateful that can provide a sense of peace.

When people are truly grateful their energy shifts. It is almost as if they become more content with their place in the world. More importantly, I believe that these people become more attractive to others and can inspire those around them to be more than they thought was possible.

What would happen if we were more thankful for the experiences, lessons learned and the people around us? If we spent dedicated time sharing a meal with someone where we had a deep conversation that helped both of us gain valuable insights to want to make a positive impact in the world. 

Who Should You Be Thankful For?

  1. Your partner or best friend. My wife is incredible and supports me in my dreams and we work together to create rituals for our kids. Her boundless energy and ability to give to others always amazes me and sometimes I forget to tell her. Remember they will not be here forever so tell them that you are thankful for them! 
  2. Your family. Before the Christmas madness sets in, take the time to let your family know that you appreciate them in your life. Give them a hug for no reason and hold onto them a little longer than normal, whisper in their ear you are thankful they are in your lives.  
  3. Your friends & colleagues. Let your friends know that they are important and that you appreciate them. Do something that is personal to show this. It could be having lunch and remembering the good times or giving them a candle to show you are with them when they need a little light in their life (thanks Georgia!)

Take a moment to write down the names of three people that you are going to demonstrate that you are thankful for. It can be a partner, family member, friend or staff member. Do something to let them know they are important to you and you are grateful. Remember it is the little things and gestures that people remember and appreciate. And if we can get them to pass it on, we can create a positive impact much larger than ourselves.

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Fatherly Wisdom

Wow – another challenging week. I had finished some US client work and was visiting my parents when my father’s health significantly declined (he had been fighting liver cancer for 2 years). I was lucky to be with him and my mother to the end.  

When someone is facing death you never know how they will be. Although he loved life, as he neared the end my father was incredible. He would joke around with the hospice staff and always be quick with a smile, even when he could not talk (and he still liked the banana popsicles that he could suck on!)

After celebrating his 52nd wedding anniversary with my mother, he said he was ready to go. A few days later we both held his hand and said our goodbyes whilst he took his last breath. It is a surreal experience and I am going to miss one of my best friends, but I am glad that he went so quickly and without pain.

The next morning I jumped into his car to run-up to the shops. As fate would have it, the car had a flat tyre. So with a few tears in my eyes, I changed the tyre, just the way he taught me so many years ago.  

As my father, Larry Stein, was such a kind soul, many people appreciated his advice, I’d like to share some of the wisdom he shared with me:

  1. Be Kind and Smile. Sometimes we get so busy with work and other tasks that we can be a bit robotic and abrupt when dealing with other people (including our loved ones). Rather than getting upset with others, my father would just smile. You get a lot further with others when you smile and be kind.  
  2. Put Family First. My father loved our family. He loved my mother and his grandkids and would do anything for them. When I was a kid he would work long hours to provide, but when he got home he would always have time for me. I also saw this when he was with his grandchildren how he spent time with them. This included having them ride on his John Deere ride-on-mower until they would fall asleep—he had such a big smile on his face. He showed me the importance of putting family first. Remember work is temporary, but family is forever (so don’t wait to let them know how much you love them!)
  3. Leave a Positive Legacy. This is something that he did not talk to me about, however, it is something that he has left. Once he passed I posted the news on Facebook and the comments that came back were incredible. High school friends from over three decades ago remembered him and his kindness. Many also mentioned that he was one of the best bosses they ever had and that the advice he provided made a massive impact on their lives. Legacy is about what you leave behind that others remember. Live your life to leave a positive legacy.

I am so thankful that I was with my father until the end. The wisdom that he has shared with me will guide me for the rest of my life. I love you Dad.

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