“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home,” writes Thomas Moore, “are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” The danger and the challenge for many leaders this winter is to not let the “ordinary arts” at home take a back seat to the “ordinary arts” at work.
Routinely this year, I have worked with executives who have barely won at work and completely lost at home. These leaders after an exhausting day at work come home and collapse, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Wiped out from the pressures of the market and the politics of the office, they have little to give and little space to receive. Their families are worn by this pattern as well. With the holiday season upon us and the image that everything and everyone is suppose to be perfect and happy, many are feeling the tension that their home lives are just not living up to the image of perfection.
The following ordinary arts are ones we need to practice every day at home. They are not flashy or fancy. They will not become a New York Times best-seller book. But from my experience, their simplicity can make a world of a difference.
First, be grateful for the meals you share with others and for the gift of good food.
Every day on this planet, there are people who want clean water and good food. There are mothers and fathers who want to feed their children and themselves. Many, due to circumstances beyond their control, can not do this. When we sit down this holiday season with our loved ones and our families, let us remember that we are deeply blessed to have good food and clean water.
Second, do not take your loved ones and families for granted.
This fall our youngest son was in a bicycle accident that lead to an ambulance ride to the emergency room. When the doctor sat down with him before he was released from the hospital, he told our son that if he had not been wearing his helmet, he more likely would not have survived the accident. That morning before all this happened, he had surprised me for my birthday by getting up very early to join my wife and I for a day hike along a nearby lake. One minute he was here and whole. That night he was injured and recovering. This holiday season realize how little control we have over the world and how precious our loved ones and families truly are.
Third, showing up and being present are the best gifts to give this holiday season.
In world of executive leadership, there never is enough time. Booked morning, noon and night with meetings, deadlines, travel and appointments plus always attempting to keep up with the endless stream of e-mail, we can find ourselves missing some very precious and important moments, such as a school play, a children’s choir, a quiet moment with an aging parent, or a phone call from a sister or brother. These simple experiences are the foundation of our lives. Ordinary and every day, they truly make the difference in the short and the long part of this journey.
This week and throughout this year into the new one, I encourage you to be humbly grateful for the gifts and blessings you have, the people who are a part of your life, and time you have to enjoy it. As always, I am deeply appreciative for the opportunity to be of service to you and your organizations in 2010. I look forward to what we will discover and achieve in 2011.
Go in peace this season; walk in love.
Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257