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Holiday Gifts for Working Stiffs

Holiday Gifts for Working Stiffs

Are you a boss? This post is intended to help you be the Santa Claus everyone who works for you is wishing and hoping, even praying that you will be this month.

What follows are my suggestions for your m.o. as the employer everyone would love to have right now. Take them and you’ll score big-time brownie points, you’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more yourself, and you’ll have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in months … at least until January, but what the heck; Share some aloha, live dangerously and let people love you.

These are my Makana Kalikimaka, the Top 5 Gifts every employer can give every employee wrapped in a big red bow (figuratively speaking):

Gift 1: Makana Ekahi

Cancel everything you can between now and the 3rd week of January. Postpone or reschedule if you must, but the big bonus points you get are for outright cancellation. Everything that is not mission-lifeline-critical should be fair game. No meetings i.e. team huddles or however you disguise the time everyone is called to talk business in the same place, no vendor appointments, no system and process audits, and absolutely no new projects initiated on anything.

Come now, you don’t really think everyone is getting all that much done right now anyway, do you?

Eliminate client meetings and bigwig entertainment. I said everything should be fair game, remember? Think about it; your invitation is probably a burden on them too. They don’t have to scheme on how to say no when you courteously, thoughtfully resist inviting them to begin with!

Gift 2: Makana Elua

How do you fill up that extra time everyone has now thanks to you?
a) Trim operating hours or hand out extra days off with pay.
b) If you can’t do that (24/7 operation and all…), and people still want to work (they need to bank it), trust them to use the time wisely to get ahead of things for when January comes in like a hurricane. If you can’t trust them to do that, well, you’ve got some hiring issues that are a totally different subject than this one at hand. See the coaching shingle I’ve hung on my own website, and call me in January.

A sidebar on this one: Don’t allow people to work overtime right now. Forbid (yes, I know it’s a strong word) salaried staff to work more than their 40 hours a week; have them set the pono (for health and balance) example. If you did the meeting, appointment etc. cancellations first, this shouldn’t be a problem; you’ll be amazed at the amount of nonsensical auto-pilot Gift 1 is going to expose for you—your staff will see it too.

Gift 3:Makana Ekolu

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Okay, take a deep breath for this one … ready?

If you normally restrict internet access on your company network, turn it on between now and Christmas.

“But then they’ll web surf all day on company time!” Maybe, but they’ll also be learning way more computer literacy than they normally have time to invest in, and that’s good for you. They won’t be stressing out on their lunch breaks trying to squeeze in the brick and mortar shopping, coming back to work grouchy the rest of the day.

After their initial web surfing they may even do some very valuable market research, networking or benchmarking for you — and anything else you’ve been silently hoping they’d figure out online at home (nope, their kids are online there.)

If you still are nervous about this, point them to my blog Talking Story; I give employees some pretty good advice. Like this one: How to talk to your manager.

Gift 4: Makana Eha

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Be the Scrooge that sets a low dollar limit on the Secret Santa deal in the office. Everyone is hoping someone will be the brave cheapie because everyone is strapped for cash right now.

You don’t want to look like a cheapie either? Believe me, if you are taking all my gift list suggestions here you won’t be. There’s also a fringe benefit in helping to stir up the sleeping creativity in people: Without the easy way out greenbacks furnish us with in currency they have to be more creative; they actually have to be more thought-full.

Gift 5: Makana Elima

If there’s a holiday party for your office you need to pay for it — for everything. No potlucks, no chipping in, and no party platters from Costco. FBC baby; Full Blown Catering (By the way, if you are in the food and beverage business, cater from somebody else and write it off to market research. Sorry to tell you, but your employees don’t want to eat your stuff at the holiday party, delicious as I’m sure it is).

If you are nervous about the alcohol, skip it altogether; the drink ticket or worse, the no-host bar deal is just too tacky. If you can’t afford to invite spouses and guests, don’t. It’s better to exclude them than charge for them.

That’s the Top 5. If you are the boss of all bosses, and you still would like to give a traditional, wrapped-in-a-box kind of gift, by all means feel free to do so. My suggestion would be the one thing you might think is tacky but no one else does: c a s h, the time-tested and revered Christmas bonus. There’s no room in their refrigerator for those turkeys you got a deal on after Thanksgiving, so donate them to your community Food Bank.

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Extra Credit: If you have free closet space you can secure and lock up tight, let everyone hide their family’s gifts from Santa at work until Christmas eve … boy do I remember stressing over that one.

And then — Extra, EXTRA Credit: You hire a delivery service with a jolly elf in a Santa suit to deliver the gifts to their homes on Christmas eve. Boy oh boy, will you be the boss from heaven!

Mele Kalikimaka, Merry Christmas!

Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. Rosa is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: An Aloha Virtue List for December.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2020

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

4. Be Who You Are

It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

5. Slow Down and Let Go

Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

Final Thoughts

What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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