We tend to think of the Holiday’s as a time away from work, commitments and responsibilities—and for many that means leadership. That belief comes from the perception that our conduct at work is somehow disconnected from our personal lives. Leadership is love in action, and that love and action are a part of our lives in every moment. No greater opportunity exists to practice leadership than with our families at the Holidays.
Our relationships to our families are not ones of choice; we choose where we want to work and our relatives are who they are by virtue of our birth. The opportunity to lead the life we want is tested in a way no other setting provides. Every adult I know has some challenge in their family dynamic and this Thanksgiving there are three steps you can take to lead the life you want, with your family at the Holidays:
1. Know Yourself: The starting point for every leader is the authentic self. Before you arrive at the first gathering, time a few moments to center yourself in your unique talents and strengths. No one knocks us off our game more than our relatives who have witnessed us evolving through the awkward stages of childhood or the missteps of our lives. We all have had those experiences and those closest to us are often the ones who master the ability to point them out at our most vulnerable moments. By rooting into our strengths we allow those comments to pass through us without sustaining the blow and with greater compassion for the one who threw it.
2. Be Clear: Holidays are the times we romanticize about the life and/or family we wish we had rather than the one we do. Just as you would at work, be realistic about the current situation and set a clear and sensible intention to progress to the logical next step. Fanciful images of the perfect holiday surround us in the popular media and for most it is far from reality. Be a leader in creating an achievable goal for your celebration. Taking one-step forward is how aspirations are reached, rather than expecting radical change just because it is the Holiday.
3. Lead: Lead the life you want to live by showing up as your best and acknowledging it in others. Be genuinely grateful for the people in your life, help them to see their talents and strengths and be an example of how people can grow beyond the pain of the past. Everyone at the table has felt forgotten, unloved or hurt by someone there at some point. Use your compassion to build the connections that move people toward the joy everyone is longing to feel.
The perfect Holiday celebration is what everyone longs to experience. Leaders understand that they are created first within themselves and their ability to love who they are independent of what their families and friends feel about them. And in that example, they are able to give that gift to others.
This Thanksgiving be grateful for who you are, share it with others and inspire them to do the same—that’s leadership.