Voice of a Global Warrior takes a lighthearted look at spreading the joy this coming season.

Here’s the good news – the holiday season is approaching! For most of us that means a bit of time off, and a break from the grind of work. You can almost hear the collective exhalation around the world as we all begin to wind down for a bit of well-earned rest.

But here’s the bad news – the holiday season is approaching! For most people that just means a different kind of busy-ness. And for many it also means time with family.  Of course this can be lovely, rewarding, and joyful – but it can also be stressful, tense, and tiring…

Being a warrior doesn’t end when you leave the workplace! We need to bring our best warrior selves into our family holiday celebrations too. So here is your Global Warriors guide to a brilliant holiday:

1. Remember who you are

All around the world on Christmas Day there is an amazing act of collective psychic time travel. Men and women in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s return to their childhood homes and immediately revert back into grumpy, uncommunicative teenagers.

Something weird happens when we are suddenly taken out of the world that we’ve created for ourselves and thrust back into the one that we grew up in. We find ourselves being squeezed back into old roles and identities that we thought we’d grown out of but that – strangely – still seem to fit like a glove! The rest of the world might see you as a 45 year-old Sales Director leading a team of 200, but as far as your parents are concerned you will always be the 16 year-old who painted their bedroom black in a fit of teenage rebellion.

As you sit round the dinner table for your holiday feast prepare for all the old anecdotes to be rolled out, dragging you kicking and screaming back into a past you might rather leave behind.

So this year, rather than resisting this trip down memory lane – and inevitably becoming the very grumpy teenager your loved ones are fondly reminiscing about – why not embrace it? Remember, that we are all of our experiences, and much more besides; that all of things that you’ve done, all of the people you’ve been are part of who you are today. And if your loved ones seem to still treat you a bit like a child, perhaps it’s because they miss having a little one to love and look after.

So here’s our advice – embrace it! All of it! The stories about bad hairdos, boyfriend and girlfriend woes, and general teenage drama. You’ve come a long way!

2. Keep it light

If you passionately believe in something then sometimes the necessary – the courageous – thing to do is fight for it.

And there is a time and a place.

That time and place might or might not be three glasses of wine into your Christmas dinner. You never know, you might convince your dyed-in the wool, Euro-sceptic stepfather that the only way to resolve Brexit is via a second referendum. But you might not. And almost certainly not in the gap between turkey and trifle.

So, by all means, if you want your holiday season to be a series of explosive rows followed by hours of silent tension then go for it! Alternatively, keep it light. Avoid conversations about Brexit, Donald Trump, identity politics, LGBTQ issues, the monarchy, climate change and veganism. Smile and nod to keep the peace if necessary. And then steer the conversation back into safer waters.

Remember, there will be plenty of opportunities for huge rows about politics in 2020.


3. Compare and despair

After a lively family meal a common coping strategy is for everyone to retreat into various corners of the house and spend a therapeutic hour or two gazing at their phones.

But be warned. Venture into the world of social media and you’ll be overwhelmed by pictures of families in matching pyjamas throwing their heads back in affectionate laughter and declaring themselves #blessed to be spending this special time with their loved ones.

Resist the urge to compare your actual self with these carefully curated, for-public-consumption selves. Trust that as soon as the photo was taken they were bickering over what movie to watch just like everyone else.

And on that note…

4. Embrace the chaos 

Within 12 hours of getting together with our loved ones, many of us will find ourselves speculating on how we emerged relatively unscathed from such a bizarre, dysfunctional environment. You may ask yourself “Is everyone’s family this mad?”

The answer is YES.

When was the last time you sat down with someone and chatted about how normal and sane your families are? Here is what we all need to remember…ALL families are crazy. That’s what makes them special.

And you can’t have the love without the chaos – it’s a package deal. We may sometimes wish that our loved ones would change – especially after a few days at closer quarters with them – but would you really want that?

When you find yourself frustrated with them, pause and remember everything you’ve been through together. All the times these people have loved and supported you. All the things you’ve shared over the years.

For better or worse, who you are today has been formed by these people. And they won’t be here forever. We may yearn for them to change, but we can’t change them! We can only change ourselves…

You get to choose who and how you are this holiday season. Do you want to spread joy or gloom? It’s down to you.

And remember, every experience carries potentially valuable lessons in leadership. If you can lead your family through a happy and harmonious holiday season, leading your team at work will be a piece of (Christmas) cake!

Happy holidays to you from all of us at Global Warriors!

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