A Freshly Minted Holiday
One favorite acting-term, from my theatre-days, that I still like to apply in my life is called “fresh minting”. The term “fresh minting” means experiencing something you’ve done or said before as if it’s the very first time.
Last weekend, as Perry Como’s rich baritone voice filled our rental car with The Little Drummer Boy (we just happened to be driving through Perry Como’s home town of Canonsburg, PA, complete with his snow covered statue!), I found myself slipping back in time a few years, when my kiddo Jeremy was about to turn two. That was the first year he was really old enough to start participating in the season’s festivities, so everything was new and exciting – the year he taught us how to “fresh mint” the holidays.
As many of you know, music is a big part of my life, so in our house, as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey has met his demise, the carols hit the airwaves. The Little Drummer Boy has always been a favorite (the Celtic Women version is particularly awesome), and the year we started teaching Jeremy the song, we would sing the lyrics and he would jump in with a rousing “Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum!”
Like all of you, I’ve heard The Little Drummer Boy hundreds if not thousands of times over the years. I’ve heard it, sung it, but to be honest, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the words until the year we taught it to Jeremy (one of the best things about teaching something is that you have to re-learn it yourself!).
So that year, as I launched into the second verse, I actually paid attention…
Little baby, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.
I am a poor boy too – pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.
I have no gifts to bring – pa-rum-pa-pum-pum
That’s fit to give our king, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum, rum-pa-pum-pum, rum-pa-pum-pum.
Shall I play for you – pa-rum-pa-pum-pum – on my drum?
And, with my son belting out, “Pa-rum-pa-pa-pum!” in the background, I thought to myself … maybe the little drummer boy had the right idea.
After all, the first verse talks about bringing our “finest gifts” to “lay before the king”, yet the little drummer boy totally stole the show by simply showing up with heart and sharing his gift. Maybe instead of jumping into the shopping fray, to buy the newest video game or legos set, the “finest gifts” can’t be purchased at the mall.
What would happen if, this year, we all decided that the best present we could give anyone would be to share our gifts? I recognize that we don’t all possess musical talents, but we all have gifts. The gift of being present. The gift of really listening. The gift of really seeing. Really being ourselves. Really appreciating one another for our own uniqueness. Really showing up with heart, and as if it were the first time we’ve said it, let someone know how much they mean to us.
What if, as leaders, we allowed ourselves to really show up?
I was leading a program last week in which the CFO popped into the room to chat briefly with the leaders in my class. During his conversation, he shared with them that he’s really working on listening to the people who report to him. He recognized that he has a tendency to come into meetings with his mind made up, and rarely gave others a chance to share their ideas, or concerns, and that it was costing him, and the company. When he was talking, the room was electric. The entire group agreed, after he left, that his most powerful moment was when he risked sharing his own challenges and put voice to his intention of getting better and commitment to growth. They were inspired. They were willing, after that, to take a look at themselves and what they could do to grow. They respected him and felt connected to him. His ability to really show up made him a leader they wanted to follow and set the stage for them to do the same. To really show up. What a gift.
“Fresh minting” requires being present. Completely. Present and real. And maybe being present really is the best present.
Fresh mint your holidays this Season and see how it can make a difference in your life.
©OnStage Leadership, 2010
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