These words, attributed to former NFL Coach Bill Parcells, come in handy this time of year. As we move about the world to reassemble, come into contact with family members and others, and think forlornly about the halcyon days of yore, we need to manage our own perspectives and expectations, and behaviors, if we want to succeed. By succeed, I mean enjoy ourselves.
Things will go wrong. They always do. Anticipated or otherwise, conflict is bound to find us. We even might have a series of things go wrong. Long security lines at the airport. Missed flights. Packages lost in the mail. Uncivil relatives. The list is endless and each one gives us the chance to point a finger at someone else. Damned airlines! I suggest saving that energy and spending it somewhere else. Your blood pressure and heart rate will thank you. So will those spending time with you. An unpleasant occurrence does not demand you lash out at something else.
This may be something only the adults reading this will be able to abide by, as many children are so programmed to be on the receiving end of the items on their holiday wish lists. Let us be a model to them, therefore. In any situation you are heading into, don’t let your expectations guide you. To be sure, I’m not suggesting pessimism. Rather, I am asking you to be open-minded. Things could go this way or that, up or down, left or right. Show your flexibility if the service is slow, your brother doesn’t show up, you don’t get thanked properly. This, too, will keep your holiday energy up. You will be a beacon of good spirit compared to all those whose unrealistic expectations have been dashed and who are lamenting and looking for company.
My old friend Jack Kenney, founder of Tamarack Tennis Camp, spoke of the difference between Givers and Takers. This season give of yourself. Be of service to others. Go the extra mile. Offer to help. Suffer a fool or two. Don’t wait to be waited on. Wait on someone else. By staying active in service to others, you will contribute to the success of the events you are participating in. You will be that person others look to as a model for leadership and teamwork, not the one they are happy to be leaving away from.
At the end of the holiday season, if you do these things, you will remember this period as one that, despite the reality that conflict is all around, you were an agent of positivity and action.