It’s Christmastime and one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time when we re-connect with friends and take the time to visit and share good times with one another. Since Christmas comes at the end of the calendar year, it is also a great time to look back at the year and remember the best. Although for many there will have been sadness and troubles during the year, I believe that while we remember it all, we should try and focus on the good.
As I was preparing our family Christmas cards, I went to my photo files on my computer and began with January searching for good photographs to include on our yearly card. This was a great reminder of the blessings and the best of this year! I looked for the best events, best photos of family members and best unique experiences of this year – those were the things that I wanted to draw from and share with others when they saw our Christmas card. During this busy season of the year, I think it is critical to take time to stop and remember the best…
The same thing is true in your work environment – take the time to remember the best of this year. Work can be filled with deadlines, expectations (met and unmet), challenges to overcome…but it is also filled with successes from progress that has been made and the development of the people in your organization. I found in the education world that December was one of the most difficult months to sustain morale. There is much to be done at home and at work and the children are excitable and energetic. There are multiple events requiring attention. It is the end of the semester and so there is a product report to let both the teacher and the student know how they are doing. While evaluations and report cards are important, one must look beyond that and look at the overall experiences of the year. One evaluation does not make a teacher/employee and one report card/grade does not make a student. Having a quality organization is about taking a broader look finding the best in each individual and building upon that. Improvement is seldom gained through punitive measures, but is most often gained through encouragement and a structure to assist people be more successful as they build on their strengths.
If you are the leader in an organization, go back and review your calendar from January to December. What were the high points and the accomplishments that you saw along the way? Remember the best; take the time to share and celebrate them with your employees as a positive encourager for what is ahead. If you are the employee, what were your “bests” this year? Too often we dwell on the frustrating and troublesome parts of our job - let those go and re-kindle what you love about your work. I listened last night as a friend shared about how wonderful the paraprofessional is that assists her daily in her classroom; I heard about the student that others had given up on, but that is excited about learning in one particular teacher’s class. I see a company take the time to celebrate each employee on his/her birthday and to thank them publically on that day through social media. Best is what companies want to be known for – by focusing on the good, you will maintain a positive focus and be able to build upon success while addressing needs along the way.
Not only is it important to remember the best to energize and catapult us toward the next year, it is also critical that we believe the best about those that we work with. I have seen multiple times that when you look for the best in someone and encourage them in their strengths; they will rise to the occasion. I have hired teachers that may have struggled some in another environment, but saw their love for children and how they connected. It was then about finding the right placement for that teacher to be successful. How often do we have a good person placed incorrectly? I have witnessed students enter a school year convinced that they are bad at a subject, but the teacher believes the best about them and they rise to the occasion. It is just as easy to believe the best about someone and work from that vantage point as to believe the worst. Believing the best is intentional; try and work from that vantage point.
It’s the season – the season of love – the season of giving – the season of reflecting – the season of joy. I hope you will take some time today and remember the best of your personal and work year. Celebrate and share the best through journaling or verbally with others, it will bring you joy. Believe the best about those around you as you close out this year and get ready for all the next year has in store!