December and January hold holidays for people of many backgrounds. A few examples: many Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate Hanukkah, pagans celebrate Yule. While these holidays have differences in their observations, one constant theme seems to be surrounding ourselves with friends and family to celebrate.
My religion observes Christmas. Living in the United States, I see Christmas in society as a retail monster and find it difficult to enjoy Christmas, even though my religion focuses on Jesus Christ instead of receiving gifts. I often find myself blue and disenchanted around the winter holidays – even detached. These feelings can distract from using my personal strengths of enthusiastically engaging people, lifting others up, and smiling nearly all the time. I have learned, however, that I can choose to engage my strengths and change my response to the Christmas holiday.
I have friends who celebrate Hanukkah and friends who celebrate Yule. I enjoy engaging with them to understand their religious and social beliefs and practices around their holidays. I enjoy learning the similarities and exploring the differences between our belief systems. We do not get together in order to convert each other to new systems of belief. We get together to share similarities, learn from each other, and enjoy diversity.
I mention the holidays and the differences partly because it’s
a natural discussion this time of year, but also to point out that diversity in
practices can bring strength to a whole society. Work teams that embrace the
differences within each individual can learn to use every person’s strengths in
order to create a powerful and cohesive team. This opportunity allows everyone
to learn, everyone to shine, and everyone to contribute to the overall success
and future. This diversity of thought allows us to focus on our own strengths
and lean on the strengths of others where we are weak. Just like discussing
similarities and differences in holiday observations, kindly and candidly discussing
different perspectives and options as a team will allow each person’s strengths
to improve the team.
Share with me times that you have used your strengths to
create success while working with someone whose strengths vary from your own. Share
with me times other people’s strengths have balanced out challenges you have
faced. Perhaps you worked well together because you have some similarities.
Show me how your similarities brought you together while your diversity made
your partnership strong and productive.
While connecting with others, consider your own strengths
and how you can use them to improve your holiday observance, respect the
observance of others, learn about yourself, and improve your work environment