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"The four most important words in any organization: 'what do you think?'"
Dave Wheeler

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Happy Holidays and I hope that this time of year finds you hale, hearty and spending time with the people you love.

 

The celebration of Christmas is relatively 'new' in the Christian calendar, not appearing as a regular holy day until the 4th or even 5th century of the common era. The date of December 25 of course was chosen to build on an established celebration of the Roman world celebrating the winter solsitice, each day after December 25 (December 21 today) gets steadily brighter. The major feast in the Christian Calendar was and is Easter. Christmas though has taken a life of its own of course in the last century or so, fuelled by capitalism and consumerism. Even the image of the beloved Santa Claus (based mergers of ideas around Saint Nicholas ca 270 - 346 CE, the German god Odin from before the 6th century CE, and the 18th century English Father Christmas) is from an ad for Coca Cola in 1931.

 

And for many, many people, the "spirit of Christmas" is one of darkness and depression as the expectations of a society based on happiness accrued through consipicuous consumption take their toll. Perhaps as leaders we might recognize that happiness is not gained through the consumption of goods, or acquiring wealth, but through the unconditional giving of love. In large part that is what the Christmas story is all about. In the end it is about loving each other unconditionally as a man named Joseph did when his girlfriend told him she was pregnant, and he knew he was not the father. The world is filled tyranny, and poverty, and for most of us, there is no room at the inn. And at the same time, abundant and unconditional love and the possibility of change for the positive are born, but not in the front rooms, or the confortable rooms of our lives, but in the mangers of our lives. The real opportunities to make a difference in and for the world are not found in the corridors of power, but in the margins, in the hills with the shepherds. And that such revolutionary change requires courage, and so we can take the message of "Fear Not" to heart.

 

And that is my hope for us all this holy season, fear not. Amidst the darkness, life and light exist and are emerging even now.

 

This is the last Leadership Notes for 2009. I'll be on a family vacation next week, and will resume our dialogue the week of January 4, 2010.

 

Peace on earth, good will to all!