One of my good friends is a career bartender. He loves the job and he loves the dynamics of the industry. Recently, we were talking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and he told me something that I was shocked to hear. Apparently, the busiest night for bars in the United States is the night before Thanksgiving. (That’s tonight, mind you!)

Why is that? It could be that people just want to unload and don’t want to have to host another gathering before the main event. It could be that the anticipation of family dynamics is chasing people out of their houses in droves to the comfort of libation before the feast of Thanksgiving. My theory is that it shows how people have lost sight of their purpose.

This begs the question, what exactly are you thankful for?

Thanks for the Stuffing

In my family, for the Thanksgiving holiday we become thankful for stuffing. It’s a very special stuffing. This is a German family recipe that has been handed down by word-of-mouth for many generations. Believe me, this isn’t your typical stuffing in a box. On our Thanksgiving table this stuffing has earned a place of importance as honored as the turkey itself. A few years ago the extended family gathered around the table. There were parents and children, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; it was quite a gathering. Wouldn’t you know it, we ran out of stuffing. The horror of this reality rippled across the table.

As you can imagine with fun family dynamics, this led to lots of “discussion” among the adults about how this could happen. Fingers were pointed, blame was cast, and responsibility was assessed in a lively exchange. (I told you this is REALLY good stuffing.)

After several minutes of this, my daughter spoke up and said,

“Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate the people AROUND the table, not just the things ON the table!”

Needless to say we were stunned into a silence of embarrassment. She was absolutely correct. In our fervor to distribute responsibility for providing the things that go onto the table (turkey, rolls, wine, etc.) we had lost sight of what we really care about: the family with whom we were gathering. Once we had re-focused on what we cared about, more specifically whom we cared about, the entire holiday experience changed.

What do you Care about?

This is not a flippant or rhetorical question. Care is an important part of any endeavor, particularly for leaders. Care is the declaration of your purpose; it is why you do what you do. It is the outcome in the world that you are committed to seeing come true.

Care is why people will commit to being part of your team and to help you make that purpose a reality. It is why your team comes together to coordinate action and produce results.

Declaring what you Care about helps to act as your “North Compass.” It keeps you on track when times get hard. Care illuminates the WHY. Why do you do what you do and why should anyone else think it is important?

So, ask yourself, “What do you care about?”

If there’s ever a time of year to ask that question; this is it.

As you prepare to gather for Thanksgiving this year take a moment to reflect on what you are doing to make what you Care about a reality.

More specifically, take a moment to think about who you care about. Then spend a moment or two in community with those people around the table.

Now, please pass the stuffing…

About David Hasenbalg

Dave Hasenbalg has spent the last 20 years leading, coaching, and consulting businesses to build cultures of responsible collaboration, develop new patterns of behavior, build high-performing teams, improve leadership, and develop communication skills that establish dynamic, engaging cultures that dramatically improve the bottom-line. He has an expertise in selecting the right balance of consulting, coaching, and training to deliver precise solutions tailored to meet the needs of clients. His practical background is as a military officer as well as a leader in cutting edge, non-profit, and Fortune 100 companies. Dave has earned an MBA and is an ACC Accredited Coach and member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).

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