On the brilliant, unseasonably warm early afternoon of November 21st, 2003, I found myself travelling 5 hours homeward-bound along Ontario's Highway 401 from a speaking engagement near the Ontario-Quebec border. Since that weekday marked my father's 75th birthday, and since his chosen rural retirement community was located in that part of Eastern Ontario, I decided to surprise him with a birthday visit. He hadn't expected me until the following weekend, but I just couldn't resist the serendipity of it all...and a beautiful afternoon to enjoy together, to boot!
Well, surprise him I did! We had a fabulous afternoon...went for a long country drive along golden rural roads, stopped for a proper English country Tea and even squeezed in a visit to a chocolate factory! Who could ask for more? As the sun sank too early below the Standard-Time horizon, the day and our time together quickly came to a close. So as to not be driving on dark roads alone for too long a time, I left by the dinner hour, promising to return at Christmastime. That never happened.
Two weeks later, my otherwise robust, sturdy and healthy father took mysteriously unwell and was transferred to three progressively larger hospitals over 10 days before receiving the diagnosis of stroke. Although he was given the encouragement of full recovery he died in hospital on December 21, 2003--one month to the day after our spontaneous afternoon together--and not from a stroke, after all, but rather, a virus that entered his spine, called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. I hadn't travelled the four hours back to visit him in hospital between December 6th and the 21st, due to my own illness (a nasty flu, and besides, my dad was getting better and we'd see him during Christmas week, or so I thought). A decision I'll always regret.
December is a terrific time for taking action. Learning from my own regret, what might you regret doing or not doing this season if you defer once again? Who are some of the people with whom you'd like to reconnect, either in the workplace or elsewhere? What are some of the workplace tasks you'd like to complete, to be able to reach year's end with a sense of peace and satisfaction? What happiness can you bring to your December days, as well as to the experience of others, both colleagues and clients or customers, alike?
These days at work, before the Christmas break, can be taxing or terrific, depending on the seasonal demands of your job and within your organization. For some, this is the slow season; for others, it's panic time extraordinaire. Regardless, it is that time of year, yet again.
So declare December a time for leadership -- personal or professional -- in action; apply these 10 strategies to deliver you (and your team) to a happy and peaceful year's end...