It’s right after Christmas and if you’re honest you’d have to admit that you’re a little let down. Either what you got wasn’t what you were expecting or what you gave didn’t get the response you were looking for. Maybe you got it right and gave the perfect gift and the response blew you away or your received something that was so pleasantly surprising you were amazed. Now that a couple of days have passed and things are getting back to normal, reality is setting in and the newness of whatever the gift was is wearing off. This happens every year and it is normal. It’s normal because the feelings we get from giving or receiving gifts at Christmas aren’t meant to emotionally sustain us all year. What we give and what we receive are suppose to point us to a greater reality, the real meaning of the season.

We hear that a lot, the real meaning of Christmas. What exactly is that and what does it have to do with workplace culture? Well, actually it has much to do with culture. We cannot talk about this holiday season at all without getting into a religious topic. Since does not have to follow HR rules we can be blunt with what we believe. We believe that Christmas points to the greater reality that God sent his son in the form of a baby. We celebrate Jesus coming to earth as a baby on Christmas. We believe that we exchange gifts because of the great gift God gave us. This belief allows me to enjoy exchanging gifts without being let down one way or the other, the gifts are not the point, rather they reflect the point. In the workplace, we all have to be very careful entering into this discussion. There are many different beliefs that come out around this season and as leaders in a free society protected by laws, we have to be careful entering into these discussions. This is actually a very important point. How can we have all of these differences in our environment and yet all still walk in the same direction?

Unity is a very important principle and core value in great cultures. Unity does not mean uniformity, it means that we embrace whatever differences there might be and we work together towards a point. Just like with my belief in Christmas, when there is a point, it is easy to overlook someone’s bad gift, or your bad gift, because that’s not the point (that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thoughtful in our giving though). When we are all marching towards a point, or a mission, we can not only overlook differences, we can leverage them. People’s different perspectives should be honored and respected. While this time of year brings a large religious debate to center stage, it might be an opportunity to learn how to lead through differences and instead of the focus being on differences, let’s make the focus on be on the point. Bring the differences to the center stage and learn more about other team members and their beliefs. When you honor and respect other’s beliefs and differences, they feel less threatened and more engaged.

This will never happen if the conversation doesn’t start. I would strongly encourage you to think about the point for you this holiday season. Why did you actually exchange gifts this year? If you do not know or if you did it just because we always do it in December, then try to take some time and think about why. Not only why for you, but why others might do it. Regardless of the reasons, each is important to the person and that really is the heart of unity. Understanding other perspectives, honoring and respecting them, and trying to embrace and leverage diversity as a primary means to keep things moving forward. I was very happy with my new electronic sport earmuffs and I love the way my wife responded to the gift I gave her. I am happy about that, but I am more happy and grateful about the point. The point will sustain me long after these electronic ear muffs break down. We wish you all the best this holiday season and cheer you on in earnest as you develop your goals for 2017.


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