It took a bit of coaxing and patience, but three weeks ago, Kathie and I received “Santa’s List” from our grandchildren’s parents. Gift lists look different than what we once scribbled on dog-eared index cards. With our family, the parents created an on-line document they shared with the in-laws, aunts, uncles, and yes, the grandparents noting the specifics of what our crown jewels want. It couldn’t be any easier. With “Deck the Halls” droning “tis the season to be jolly,” we all know it’s the season of giving. And a very good season it is!
Clients may never tell us this, but I imagine they have a list of wants that may have our names on it. They may need us to be better listeners, more understanding of their aversion to risk, or the longing they have for us to understand the unique family challenges they face. My guess is we would connect with them better if we were a bit more transparent, revealing more of who we are rather than focusing so much on what we want them to do.
Lest we forget, our Jewish friends light the first candle in the Hanukkah menorah this Saturday evening, December 24. Many of those with other traditions will join in the spirit of these weeks. Yes, it’s the giving season. The gifts are rising higher under trees and other special places in our homes. The danger for all of us is to parlay our energies on what we will give those closest to us—think purchase “for” them—rather than giving more of ourselves “to” them.
My experience with the miracle of friendship is that others in all quarters of our lives draw closer to us when we are more open and vulnerable with them. Professor and author Brene Brown, both in her Ted Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” and more recently in her engaging book, Rising Strong, advocates for this deeper level of openness in relationships. I would recommend giving yourself a gift and watch her Ted Talk and read her remarkably insightful book.
Capture for a moment a mental picture of your family. If you are married or in a committed relationship, start with the person closest to you. Turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet, shut off all the exterior interruptions and consider the following: What if you asked that person what non-tangible, relational gift he or she would like to unwrap from you this season? “What do you most need from me?” Or, “I want to be more engaged in our relationship going forward. Please tell me what that would mean for you?”
What if you broached with a friend what he or she would like to know about you that has been undiscovered or unshared? You could even begin that conversation by saying something like, “This giving season has found me wanting to share something about my life I don’t think I have ever mentioned to you.” And then share a story about a transformative experience when you learned one of those priceless lessons.
You could have the same conversation with a long-term client or colleague. And when you share your story, be ready because that other person has a story to share with you that will bring you both closer together. This is the giving season. Of all the gifts we could give, the best gifts will always be those that find their genesis in the heart. My conviction and experiences have taught me that the more I give away, the more I have to give and the more others find strength and comfort in the relationship we share. So, keep giving through this season of light, love, and memories.