I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Personally, I love having Black Friday in the rearview mirror.
The onset of December fills me with anticipation of Christmas. I’m also aware that we’re deep in the fourth quarter with little time to spare. Soon, a lot of regular business activities become impractical.
Among our team at View From the Top, one of our themes for this season is to be more intentionally, outwardly focused - on God, our families, friends, neighbors, employees, and customers.
So if you ask me, it makes sense that our day-to-day business activities get sidelined for a few weeks. If you live in the colder, snowier parts of the world, you might relate to being “snowed-in.”
There are songs and movies out there that make a heavy snowfall romantic. You might think of a couple staying in a cabin in the mountains with a warm fire, hot drinks and nowhere to go. It sounds nice.
The problem I found with this is reality can be something quite different. Most of the “snowed-in” stories I’ve ever heard wouldn’t make the cut for the Hallmark channel.
They frequently involve flat tires on icy roadsides, insufficient layers of clothing, wind chills that drop the temperature by twenty degrees and some kind of urgent medical need to return to civilization.
Fail to Plan ...
You might have heard the expression, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? I haven’t found a cultural event more appropriate to demonstrate this than the holiday season.
As a Christian life coach, I have heard painful stories from entrepreneurs who can’t “turn off” their business intensity. They feel compelled to fight for every minute they can get from dawn on Black Friday to five o’clock on Christmas Eve.
They grudgingly sit still on Christmas Day, but then on December 26th, they’re right back at it through New Year’s Eve.
I’d ask, “What must that be like?”, but to tell you the truth, I know what it’s like! That’s the same mistake I made for many years.
Isn’t it odd? We are consciously aware that we’re down to the wire, especially after December 15th or so. Yet some people don’t ease off the throttle at all. They gun it, trying to squeeze every last drop of energy from their tank.
I’m Not Really Here
Practically, I’ve been out of the loop for two weeks. Robin and I took off on a cruise the week before Thanksgiving and laid low with family through the holiday week.
We floated on a cruise ship in the ocean, and I released my grip on everything.
So you can probably guess this isn’t being written Monday morning after two weeks of super-low business activity! There’s two weeks’ worth of e-mail to sift through, team meetings and masterminds online to lead.
In those mastermind groups, I informed the members I’d be absent the week we celebrate Christmas. I told them not to show up, either. Go, and be present with your families.
Your Competition Has the Same Problem
If you fight against the seasonal slowdown, rest assured, your competitors also face the choice of accepting or resisting it. The ones who resist it incur a similar or greater degree of anxiety and exhaustion.
The opportunity for you at Christmastime is not to see who can get across the finish line with the most dollars.
If you like to think of it that way, I want to challenge you to wonder, “Who can start the New Year the most rested and rejuvenated?”
There’s a good chance that’s not even on your competitors’ radar - and that gives you the advantage.
… Plan to Fail
Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t national holidays because the Retail Industry Association lobbied the government for special days to fill their coffers.
The idea behind them - Christmas especially - is to spur us to “pull back” and look at our lives on balance.
You might not be like Ebenezer Scrooge during the season, but you could still be preoccupied with “making it happen,” because that’s what entrepreneurs do.
Most of the year, God is just fine with that. It’s something he smiles on. As my friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin points out, God is pleased and smiles on a businessman who is preoccupied with serving and pleasing His other children.
We should not interpret this to mean that God has no intention of letting us rest and bring our focus back on Him.
If you choose that path, however, you can bet your holiday season will fail. Probably in the categories that matter most, like maintaining a healthy marriage or being a good father to your kids.
The Season of Planning
One way you can “work without working” is to use this time for thinking about and planning for the New Year.
At View From the Top, our team spends most of our energy in November and December figuring out what we’re going to focus on in the New Year.
We still serve our existing customers, and our automated marketing continues to draw people into our sales pipeline.
But I personally don’t do near the amount of hustle and hunting that goes on the rest of the year. (Unless it’s in the woods with my grandson).
This puts us in a “snowed-in” mentality; there’s nowhere to go, no important functions or grand performances we have to give. It’s just our core group, fleshing out concepts, discussing ideas and figuring out who does what.
So This is Christmas
I want you to rethink the next four weeks, especially if you’re an owner or entrepreneur.
Think about how you can minimize your busy-ness, and be present for your loved ones.
Think about how you can bless your friends and acquaintances, rather than stuff your bank account.
Think about generous things you can do for your employees, and be as lavish as you can. You rely on their strength to keep your company running.
Think about how to honor and serve your customers, while politely letting them know that your hours and output are reduced in December, and that’s just the way it is.
A blessed and joyous Christmas season to you and your family, from all of us at View From the Top.