Lessons in Managing from the Holidays

Between Easter and Passover, this was a weekend of holidays. All around the world, there were big family gatherings, huge meals, lots and lots of ritual, religious services, activities, and a balance of serious and fun.

What, might one ask, does any of this have to do with management? Ah, I reply, everything!!!

Start with families – the sheer logistics of feeding, housing and entertaining guests, some who travel long distances, can rival that of any good corporate unit or even more, any good army – and we know armies, like our relatives, travel on their stomachs.

Frankly, as in all great undertakings, the outcome makes it all look easy; the “experiential” effect hides the days and hours of preparation, planning, worrying, doing, worrying some more and finally delivering…we enjoy ourselves (hopefully) and although we give lip service and lots of toasts and thanks to our hosts and partners, unless you were in it you really have no clue, so kudos to those who do, and send me your resumes….

Egg hunts, Seder services, mass, prayers, matzo, chocolate bunnies…the list goes on, and somehow with full work weeks and tight schedules it all comes together.

I am in awe and in discussion with so many of my friends, of all persuasions. I realize that as much as we say that our work and play, careers and home lives have merged and melded, this is true only in the digital sense, as the fire hose never seems to stop gushing…

But as we walked back from our Seder and passed a church where parishioners were exiting from a late night service, I felt at peace knowing that at least for a little while, the forced merger was on hold, and I never felt more connected…no fire hose….

So what did I learn? Somehow, despite the pressure, the craziness, the often last-minute needs and demands not of work but of life, when we focus on purpose and outcome, somehow it all comes together in meaningful and powerful ways; and the preparation becomes a shared joy just as the event becomes a shared experience, not in some virtual platform but around a table, in a house of worship, in a park or wherever we can gather.

Every once in a while it’s worth remembering that while our skills apply to all facets of our lives, we cannot forget to apply the human side as well….

I am ready to bet that our work life benefits as much from our human focus as our ability to put together a huge, complex family holiday meal benefits from our learned organizational skills.

Holidays are about experiences and people, and tuning into what you feel like doing at that moment. Enjoy not having to look at a watch. – Evelyn Glennie

Now apply that thought to work at some point today…

What do you think?

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