People throughout the world are celebrating holidays this month, including Chanukah this past week and Christmas next week. The spending frenzy that supports the practice of gift giving for these two holidays is often excessive and might obscure the stories upon which these holidays are based. But don’t worry – I’m not advocating Scrooge-like behavior here.
The thoughtfulness associated with gift giving is a good thing, and letting those you love know that you care about them is both important and fun. Seeing the joy on recipients’ faces when they get presents warms everyone’s hearts and hopefully makes them curious about the specialness of the occasion. That’s why it’s important at that moment to tell the story behind why we celebrate.
These stories are mostly from the long-ago past and they beg to be told, and it’s a disservice to young and old alike to give the gift without telling the tale. This is how societies endure, how histories persist, and how new generations learn from the old. Storytelling is as old as mankind and serves as the basis for all that we know and cherish. And even with the advent of the Internet and the ability to search for the meaning of anything, without the human voice behind the facts there is no humanity in the learning.
So give all the gifts you want, but remember the best gift of all is the understanding of what things are, and how they got to be what they are. While it certainly is the thought that counts, it’s truly the meaning that endures. Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!
My message this week is about being responsible for what goes on around us:
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” Winston Churchill
What price would you be willing to pay for success or greatness, or even just making things right? You’d probably be willing to put in lots of hard work, and you’d most likely care a lot, and you might even give up your free time. You also might consider putting in some money. But after all of that, it’s the commitment and responsibility that you put into the work that you do or the things that you give that will ratchet them up to the level of being special or even achieving greatness. Lots of people give everything they have to give and still don’t make it to that higher level – that’s because they did not put in all of their heart and soul and inspiration and passion – basically they didn’t accept full ownership and responsibility for their actions. So if you want greatness, the price is full responsibility. Nothing more; nothing less.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874 – 1965), was a British politician, best known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. His funeral was the largest state funeral in world history, with representatives from 112 nations.
PS: many of you asked about last week’s blog and whether I was leaving NYC – the answer is “no, we are keeping our Brooklyn apartment while I continue to work and consult there”. The only difference is that now our home base will be in Las Vegas instead of Laguna Beach. Thanks for asking.