5 Ways to Lead the Way to Holiday Miracles

| | General Leadership

I can think of no more important place for our leadership to make a difference than in our families.  The Holiday Season is a particularly opportune time for us to lead the way for something new and maybe even miraculous to show up.  Wherever in the world you may live the holidays have a way of amplifying the best and worst of our family relationships, add to our stress levels in both good and bad ways, and heighten our emotions.

Leading the way through the Holiday Season is not about doing more.  There is most certainly plenty for all of us to do!  It is about being more mindful of honoring others and contributing the best of who we are in any moment.

You might start with creating an intention for the season.  What do you want this season to be like for you and for your family this year?  Last year my intention was to “stop sweating the small stuff and really enjoy the important stuff”.   In the spirit of that intention we declared no more adult gifts.  Instead of running around shopping for each other the days before Christmas we spent time together at the beach.  This year for me it is “Celebrating Life”.  Keep it simple and make sure it is meaningful for you.

Whatever your intention may be here are 5 sure ways to create fertile ground for miracles big and small:

1.  Express Sincere Appreciation

Whatever your role(s) may be in your family’s Holiday traditions seek opportunities to appreciate EVERYONE who is part of your traditions this year for something.  Take the time to acknowledge not just what people do, but the way in which they do it.

2.  Listen More and Listen Better

The key here is in what you are listening for.  Listen for what you can love, admire, and appreciate about each person.  Be willing to listen just a little better and perhaps even a bit longer to people’s stories, not based on a judgment of whether their story matters, but rather because the person telling the story does.  This could be the greatest gift you give of all this season.

3.  Make Choices based on Your Authentic Commitments

We all have things on our to do list this season that we would rather not, yet we feel we must do.  If the holidays are fraught with what feel like burdensome obligations, you may want to read The Opportunity of Obligation.  One thing we always do have a choice about is our attitude and the mood we bring to any situation.  You can lead the way to pleasant surprises by by choosing to set the tone for yourself and others.

4.  Create More Time for the People Who Matter Most

A great way to create more time is to simplify whatever and wherever you can.  Another way is to say no.  Try doing less of something or doing it more simply so you can free yourself up.  However you go about it put some attention on creating opportunities to connect more deeply with someone you care about, do something that brings you joy, or even the unexpected.  As my friend Anne Perchel said recently:  “Leave room for what might be and enjoy the wonder of what shows up.”

5.  Contribute in an Unexpected Way

We can spend a lot of time during December just keeping up with the things we feel we have to do.  Contributing in an unexpected way is  more a matter of paying attention to what is needed, than it is about time or expense.  Try navigating the Holiday Season with an intention of being of service and you will discover plenty of opportunities to serve!

Whatever your beliefs and traditions I wish you a meaningful and joyful Holiday Season full of pleasant surprises and even a few miracles!

As always I appreciate you, the stories you share and the many ways you contribute here.  Please do share your holiday intentions, miracles and any suggestions you have for leading the way to holiday miracles!


Enter A Comment

Joe Williams   |   29 November 2009   |   Reply

I really like the reminder in the first way on the list: take the time to acknowledge not just what people do, but the way in which they do it. I am rather results-focused and need to remind myself on the latter. Happy holidays, Susan!

Mike Henry   |   30 November 2009   |   Reply

Thanks for the thoughts Susan. I’m making sure that I make time for my authentic commitments. I appreciate the the reminder. This is a great time of year to re-evaluate those commitments, get the best and most important top of mind and eliminate the interference as much as possible. Great reminder.

Susan Mazza   |   30 November 2009   |  

Thank you Mike – I find when I don’t take the time early in the season to be mindful of what is most important I get swept up and lose touch with experiencing the joy that is possible this time of year.

Rosa Say   |   01 December 2009   |  

Susan, I really love this idea of having an intention for the holidays. This year it will definitely need to be “Christmas is in my head first, arriving with me wherever I am, all month long” for it will not be the actual day… the only time we will be able to get our family all-together in the same place will be between the 14th and 18th of the month, and away from home. I know it will be wonderful, yet that also gives me another thirteen days to New Year to fill joyfully rather than allowing them to fall flat in the aftermath. Your post is getting me to be more inventive yet still focus on that mantra of decking the halls of my head space!

Susan Mazza   |   10 December 2009   |  

“Decking the halls of my head space” is now my new mantra this season – love it!

Susan Mazza   |   30 November 2009   |   Reply

Thank you Joe. Happy Holidays to you, too!

CV   |   30 November 2009   |  

these five ideas are all lovely suggestions, and I especially like the part of ‘you’ and your approach to leadership that they reveal.
The suggestion about honoring authentic commitments by making choices that demonstrate these commitments hits home for me, since (among all the other roles) I have the role of leading my family in our holiday and religious celebrations. I have occasionally felt this to be more of a burden than a leadership opportunity, so I appreciate the reminder that I (and thus we) do these things not because they are obligations, but because they matter.

Susan Mazza   |   10 December 2009   |  

With all that people are counting on us for during the holiday season it is very easy for it to feel burdensome. It truly is amazing though how fast we can shift context when we focus on how much these things matter to the people we love. thanks for stopping by CV.

Joanne Maly   |   30 November 2009   |   Reply

What perfect timing for your post reminding us as we enter December and a month when it is so easy to get caught up in the groundswell of shopping, many to-do’s, and the multitude to-be-here-and-there appointments.

Just this weekend in-fact, our four age 20-something children, their spouses or girlfriends, my husband and I decided to not spend a single dollar on each other for a present this year.

Instead, we are each writing a note to each other with a message why ‘that’ person is important in ‘my’ life and with a promise to ‘do’ something simple and ‘unique’ in this next year with the other sibling (or parent.)

Examples for instance:
‘Take two long walk with mom when I am in town.’
‘Go to a college basketball game with my dad this winter (even though I don’t like these games at all.)
‘Teach my brother how to ‘do’ social media.’

The idea is not just to save money… and de-complicate our holiday season… but to really focus on ‘being with each other’ and the promise of continuing that attention and love far past the holidays.

Hope this idea triggers some thoughts in the minds of some of the readers of your excellent blog post, Susan.

Take care and have a wonderful week.

Susan Mazza   |   30 November 2009   |   Reply

Thanks so much Joanne for sharing these great ideas. I bet the notes and activities that are generated will be some of your best gifts given and received! Please do come back and share the miracles with us!

Dorothy Dalton   |   01 December 2009   |  

Hi Susan – what excellent suggestions to make the holiday period calmer and more meaningful. For the first time ever my family has decided to opt out of all our usual stress inducing traditions and take a trip! Will let you know how that works!

Susan Mazza   |   10 December 2009   |  

Hope your trip is fabulous Dorothy!

forex robot   |   06 December 2009   |   Reply

Amazing as always 🙂

Susan Mazza   |   10 December 2009   |   Reply


Thomas Waterhouse   |   06 December 2009   |   Reply

This year I am marveling at the power of a season to shine light, bring peace, and unify hearts. I so long that it could last all year, and I endeavor for it to be so within my own soul. I love your thought, “I can think of no more important place for our leadership to make a difference than in our families.” Thank you Susan, great article!

Susan Mazza   |   10 December 2009   |   Reply

Appreciate your kind words Thomas and I share in your wonder at the power of the season. It is my favorite time of year, perhaps for that very reason!

Jann Freed   |   27 December 2009   |   Reply

Susan–I had such a busy semester that I hardly had time to post and little time to read. Spring semester will be better for me. As always, your posts are thoughtful and inspiring. Where do you get your inspiration? I like your style and I need to learn to be more conversational.

Since I, too, think about leadership in terms of life and work, your posts are inspirational for me. Every year I make our holiday cards and there is always a theme. This year’s theme was:WONDER. So I liked the quote your included. Thanks. Jann

Susan Mazza   |   07 January 2010   |   Reply

Always great to see you here Jann. Thank you for your kind words about my writing. My inspiration comes from the everyday conversations I have with the many amazing people I have in my life.

What a great theme you chose – may WONDER carry you throughout 2010!