This weekend we did a white elephant gift exchange with some friends and I got five boxes of garbage bags. Unusual… until I tell you that we agreed to only spend $5 on each gift, and it had to come from a dollar store. A few of us chose a theme for our gifts… my theme was ‘hot’: matches, a lighter, ‘Hot Tamales’, Cajun trail mix and some jalapeno cheese sauce. Good times.
I really didn’t mind getting trash bags, (not only because we needed them) but because the season of giving has become just that for me – more about giving than receiving. I’m not sure when it happened (that pesky adulthood) when I began getting more excited about others opening the gifts I got for them than the other way around. But it happened, and now I have to deal with it.
I think good leaders probably spend more time giving than receiving as well. You give of your time, your attention, your knowledge, your advise, and your expertise. At times it can seem like there is no return on that investment, but continued effort in this arena does pay off. How many times have you heard a friend or co-worker talk about how a previous boss or teacher impacted their life in a profound way, only to follow that up with, “I wish I could tell them how much they meant to me.”?
I think that’s why we say that we “give” feedback as well. It’s a gift that we give our employees to reward or correct a behavior. Of course, just like a real gift, feedback can be accepted or rejected (even without a receipt). When it is rejected, it is easy for us to decide to stop giving it because we feel its not wanted and not being heard. When it is accepted with open arms, like a holiday gift you put a lot of thought into, its almost magical.
Take an opportunity to give as much as you can muster this holiday season – and I don’t mean in store-bought gifts. Give your time to your family, your attention to your friends and your gratitude to those who have helped you along the way. Its amazing what you’ll get from all that giving!