Within my #CompelledTribe blog group, our topic for this month is focused on traditions. And at this time of year, it is easy to conjure up images of traditions that may exist at family or work. Personally, it seems as though anything we might do twice can become a tradition. “We did it last year and had fun. So we have to do it this year. It’s a tradition!”
As I further reflected on my favorite family traditions for December, I quickly realized that the underlying sentiment between them both also spills over in to my leadership style. Let me try and explain.
Christmas Eve for my family includes everyone coming together and enjoying time with each other while eating pizza. Cheese for the kids, supreme for the adventurous, and pepperoni for most of the rest of us. Extra sauce, traditional crust, and lots of napkins are the norm. We forgo the salad for laughs and there is an age minimum for those that get to go pick up the meal – and grand smiles when the latest nephew “graduates” to pizza escort. There is also a theme each year which may include goofy holiday hats, silly magic tricks, or simply dorky jokes. Old stories and hearty laughs are what is most important. Christmas Day begins with the normal stockings and presents. And as the morning nears end, we prepare for lunch. However, with deliberate intent, there is no stress in preparation for this meal. Cold cuts, fresh rolls, chips and queso lead the way. Instead of a ham or turkey with tasty sides, we choose melted cheese rolling over perfectly salted tortilla chips; mayo on a fresh roll layered with salami, ham or roast beef. The prep time is minimal and we all appreciate that. Reminiscing, joking around, and warm smiles are the currency.
I love both of these traditions because of what they represent – namely that being together is what is being celebrated. You don’t need some fancy lunch/dinner that hits someone else’s expectations in order to enjoy the holiday season. Stress and angst as family members focus on a large meal is not where I want our energy. Rather all of that is traded for time being present with the person next to you. Appearances don’t matter – you don’t have to be cool or appropriate. Rather you are simply in the moment.
These two traditions remind me of the same approach I take when serving as a leader; namely that the experience is what matters, not the specific setting. Each day, week, semester and school year, I work with others to create meaningful experiences for our students and our faculty/staff. I believe that the magic that happens between our students and adults on campus has little to do with the way our building may look, the manner in which we organize the tables and chairs, or the style with which I organize the main office. Rather its about the people – all day, every day. I adore the traditions with my family and I so appreciate the way my school focuses on the very same things. Which of your traditions best reflect you?