Songs of the Season: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Today I want to talk about one of my partner’s favorite Christmas characters and the story shared through the song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The song tells the story of a reindeer with a red nose who was teased for having one because all the other reindeer had regular dark colored noses, how fog created a dangerous flying situation for Santa on Christmas Eve, causing Santa to ask Rudolph to lead the way so they could see and deliver all the presents to kids for Christmas, and being a true leader Rudolph stepped up and led the way and saved Christmas.

One of the biggest reasons people love the song is because it’s about victories for the underdog, for the weird ones, for those who are different.  I don’t know too many people who haven’t been bullied at some point in their life or felt different and like they couldn’t compare to others.  Sometimes our harshest critic is ourselves, but often that rejection or questioning starts with what someone else says or does.  It’s sometimes hard to accept what’s different about you as something good, but as Rudolph showed, it’s being different that can make the biggest impact or be exactly what’s right in a situation.

It’s also a song about teamwork. Most of us have worked with a team in our years in school or work that has been less than awesome or supportive. It wasn’t an easy experience and you may have been downright excited to be done and not work with that group going forward. I can’t imagine Rudolph was excited to work Christmas Eve with the other reindeer, at least not until they showed him that they were accepting of him being part of the team, that he was a valuable asset for the team, and that he was welcome with his red nose. Rudolph had to have the courage to be open to accepting their change of heart and trying to work with those who he hadn’t gotten along with, or his hurt could have ruined Christmas for all those children.

This Christmas I encourage you to embrace what’s unique and special about you. After all, that’s what the Christmas stories are about: both Santa and Jesus bring something to the table that the rest of us can’t and don’t. And if you’ve got a relationship that needs some work, I encourage you to step up and try to make your part in it right so that you can hopefully move forward better together. Life is too short to let our differences keep us apart or for us to let things that should be fixable to cause permanent division. Choose to celebrate together this holiday season and work together to make victories happen for those you love.

Reality Reflections: Celebrating Veterans

This month is all about being thankful, and today I’m thankful for all of the ads I’ve heard over the past few days, signs I’ve seen, notes posted online, and stories I’ve heard shared about veterans, and the companies and people who are stepping up to support them and their families. Every year it seems like more companies are recognizing that not only is it good business to share that you support veterans, it’s also good for morale within your company, your community and your country. They’re absolutely right that it’s good business and good for morale, but it’s also a reminder that companies have a choice to make about how they lead, and choosing to lead by supporting veterans is a great way to lead.

As people and customers, we too have a choice in who we do business with, who we donate to and how or if we participate in supporting the people around us that we share this world with. Everyone has a need of one kind or another, all of us have basic human needs to be met, and on top of those needs some people have needs because they’ve screwed up in life or have made bad decisions, others have needs because they’ve been dealt a bad hand in life, and others like our veterans may need help because of the sacrifices they’ve made.

So yes, today and every day I’m thankful for our veterans.  I’m also thankful that I’m able to personally support organizations that support veterans, thankful that I’m one of the businesses that supports veterans, and thankful for all the ways businesses are stepping up to not only support but also recognize and celebrate our veterans. Some veterans say that they are who they are and did/do what they did and don’t feel a need to be recognized, but everyone needs to be recognized when they do the right thing, do the brave thing, or put their lives on the line, so make sure you find a way to give back or thank a veteran this weekend.

Reality Reflection: Fighting Injustice

I believe that we’re capable of making the world into a better place and we’re also capable of destroying it. It’s a choice we have to make each day with our words and actions. We may not see the impact our individual actions have on the world at all times, but you can be sure that they are having an impact.

This past week I was paging through stations on the radio and caught the end of an interview on Z100 with Laura and Vanessa Marano who have a movie out on the topic of human trafficking, which is a bigger issue than we would believe. It’s not something that happens only in books, it happens in real life as well, in fact it’s a billion dollar industry.

If you want to listen to just the interview with the ladies you can watch it here, but the part I caught was about 85 minutes into this podcast of the whole morning show that day, talking about the topic of trafficking and about the publicity it doesn’t get. This portion of the show wrapped with the hosts raising the question of why it’s not something people talk about, how uncomfortable it makes some people, how some people in power shut down all talk on subjects like this, and the importance and responsibility of organizations and groups like this radio show who have tons of publicity to, as one senior executive producer said, talk about tough topics even if it makes some listeners turn off the station.  Because for every listener that doesn’t change the channel, it’s one more person who’s hearing the message and maybe able to do something to help.

Unfortunately there are still injustices happening in the world on a daily basis. We’ve not beat the monster at the game yet. We’re doing better in many respects because of social media and the ability to spread the word with less censure from those who would try to use their power or resource to hinder and hide. The first way we can fight human trafficking, help veterans, fight substance abuse, fight race discrimination and the other issues that keep parents and partners and countless others up at night is if we speak up and let people know it’s not acceptable and we’re not going to be quiet about it. From there we have to start making changes so that fewer people are hurt or taken or profiled unfairly and incorrectly or dismissed. It won’t happen in one day, but with tenacity we’ll be able to make an impact.

What causes are close to your heart and you support?

You Are Enough

An acquaintance of mine was let go of at her job recently. It’s always hard to hear when that happens, even if you’re not really close with a person because almost all of us need the work (and paycheck) to live. I know her well enough to know that she and her boss are both strong personalities and she had struggled with some issues in the past regarding the job and her boss, so while it’s not a timely event, I wasn’t greatly surprised that it happened, it was just a lot sooner than I thought it might happen.

In processing this event the topic of ‘enough’ came up. It’s a topic we all contemplate from time to time: Am I doing enough at work? Am I doing enough at home? Am I doing enough with my partner? Where am I/we going to find enough hours in the day for all of this? Will I/we ever have enough time? Doesn’t the world have enough content and blogs and people selling this thing already? Will I/we ever have enough resources? Am I enough?

It’s a touchy subject but one that I think needs consideration on all aspects. Let’s start with the last question. I believe that each of us are sufficient for the calling we have on our lives. I don’t believe we have to be anyone else, nor should we try to be. It’s when we try to do more than we’re capable of or asked to do that we tend to trip ourselves up. As far as the other questions, yes, we each do have a responsibility to contribute to the best of our ability each and every day to all parts of our lives.

But we also have to consider the contribution that others are putting forth and if they’re not doing their part. You can encourage them to contribute more or explain how you’re feeling or talk with them about renegotiating expectations, but if they don’t want to live up to their responsibility that’s ultimately their issue. Unfortunately sometimes the rest of us get caught up in that though, and sometimes it comes down to the fact that you can only do your part and leave it at that.

So what if you’re the one who’s not enough? Start by making a serious list of your responsibilities, what your priorities are (how you’re focusing your time), contributions on a daily basis, and areas where you’re consistently struggling. If the things you’re focusing on aren’t lining up with what other people are sharing, then either you need to re-prioritize, or you need to have a discussion with them and make changes.

What about you? What have you been really successful in this week? What areas have you struggled in? How will you finish this week strong?

The Story of Today

75 years ago today there was a big military operation, one that you probably know by name even if you don’t know what really happened, when it was or who was involved: D-Day. I’m not the biggest history buff, I’m not quite sure how I managed to pass most history classes, but I’ve heard of D-Day, and I’m thankful to the multiple countries and some approximately 160,000 troops who made this effort and helped bring us a big step closer to defeating the Germans and their allies in WW2.

One of the headlines I’ve seen around this year’s events is that the men and women of the war, both abroad and at home, are sharing their stories. It’s not easy to talk about what happens during war, and many would rather just forget what they saw and did, which is totally understandable. But when the only things that are shared are facts (dates, times, numbers), it’s hard for many people to really understand why they should care, let alone remember anything about it. But I wish I had more stories from my grandparents and other seniors that have been in my life over the years before they passed; once they die their stories are gone.

It’s with these stories that it’s affirmed what an incredible victory was had that day, and the personal contribution that each person made. It’s also a reminder that behind every victory is a story. Sometimes it’s one of lots of details and planning, other times it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision, and often there’s a lot of grace and/or luck involved, with moving parts we never will know about. Don’t be afraid of the story or think your story doesn’t matter, stories are what paint pictures, dream dreams and make stars glow at night. Stories also inspire others and encourage them that if you were able to get through what you did to achieve victories, so too can they. What story did you write today?

30 Days of Thanksgiving: The Season of Giving

Well, the holiday spending weekend is officially over, I don’t know about you but I was a little disappointed by what was (or rather wasn’t) on sale this past weekend.  It definitely wasn’t a one-and-done shopping weekend for me.  So yes, I’m a little disappointed.  Like many other people I use these shopping sale days to not only buy gifts but buy things I use all year long and appreciate getting at a great discount.  But that’s not how it worked out and so I, and many others, may be doing some bargain hunting over the next few weeks as the holidays approach.

What really surprised me was the lack of Cyber Monday deals this year and the lack of emails about any deals happening.  I got one that suggested I order early so I get the items they sell in time for the holidays, but they didn’t manage to include a coupon code so I put off considering whether I would or would not order from them.

The other surprise from this holiday shopping season kickoff was that we’re at 6pm EST and already today I’ve gotten over 300 emails today.  For what? Giving Tuesday.  Started in 2012 it’s a way to encourage people to give to non profits who aren’t in the spotlight for most of the year. I donate to organizations every month so I don’t need today as a reminder, but I do look to see if organizations that I don’t support regularly but follow closely are doing any kind of giving match.

Ultimately the holiday season, whether you’re religious or not, celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, is about giving.  It’s important to give to those who mean the most to us, but for many of us without the non-profits of the world we’d be lost and the world wouldn’t be as special a place as it is.  I give monthly because these organizations are making a difference in the world in ways I simply can’t.  So today yes, some of the money I didn’t spend over the weekend I will be donating to organizations that are making a difference in the world, helping them spread hope a little further this holiday season and in the year to come.

Reality Reflection: safety and security

This week in the US we’ve seen the unfortunate events unfold of several bombs being delivered to leaders and politicians. The good news about this story is that no one was killed as a result. I was talking about this event with a friend and we agreed that it had been a while since bombs have been on the news, and that’s a really good thing. It’s good that we’re not using bombs on each other as much, or that we’re getting better at catching them before they can be detonated or even delivered to their destination. There’s still too much violence overall, as the shootings that happen each week continue to show, but it almost seems like we’re making progress if people aren’t going the bomb route as much anymore.

But the overall question here that again puzzles me is why people think it’s such a big deal for people to be part of one political party or be a leader of some kind, and as a result think they need to be killed. I may not agree with everyone’s views, but I don’t see that as a reason to kill them. If we were talking more along the lines of a vigilante, while I don’t agree that they should do that it would at least be more understandable from a ‘they might actually deserve it’ standpoint. With the places and people that the bombs this week were delivered to there were a lot of innocent people in harms way, people who could have been killed for no real reason other than associating with someone that someone deemed to be a threat.

As I said initially there weren’t any casualties as a result, and it really speaks to the improved training and awareness of those in law enforcement who not only diffused the bombs but also tracked the clues to a suspect. There are people around the US who put their lives on the line each day for the safety of others and don’t get to return home, so it was a victory that everyone was able to get home and they were able to do their jobs quickly and effectively.

So this weekend I would encourage you to hug your loved ones a little closer, say a prayer for those in law enforcement and be thankful for the life and blessings you have.