In keeping with the theme of Christmas for December’s blogs, let’s think of the topic of good intentions with a story from my Christmas past.
Have you ever started out thinking something would be a really great idea? Yep, me too. Stay with me, there is leadership in this…
The first year of our marriage, Heather and I did the Christmas Vacation thing. On the first weekend of December, we loaded up in my truck and went to get a real Christmas tree, even singing Christmas carols (“Deck the Halls” in my best Clark Griswold impression) on the way there. We went to a Christmas tree farm out in the country somewhere and actually cut a tree down. We walked up and down row after row until we said, “There it is, the ‘Norton family’ Christmas tree.” The tree farm even gave us a saw, so I did not have to pull the tree out by the roots. We were proud of our accomplishment. We were going to do our first Christmas right, real tree and all the trimmings. It was going to be the “Hap, happiest Christmas of all.”
Remember how we started this story? Good intentions…
When we got back home (one-bedroom apartment), we lugged our tree upstairs. Now… this is the part where the good intentions come in. Someone had told Heather that if you put sugar-water in the tree stand, it would make your tree stay green and fresh longer. So, we did. What we did not know is that with full sun, sugar-water will begin to ferment. And guess what, we had our tree placed in front of the double full-length french doors that provided full sun most of the day. Needless to say, after a few days, we would begin to ask, “You smell something?”
About two weeks before Christmas, I was putting a present under the tree and actually got a whiff of what was going on down there in the bowls of the tree-stand. What I found was what cousin Eddie told Clark, “Just a real nice surprise.” The sugar-water had fermented and almost turned to a solid. The smell was so bad, I nearly knocked myself out trying to get up from under the tree. If fumes had color, our tree would have been emitting something green like the disposable waste of cousin Eddie’s RV in the sewer or the Grinch’s bad breath.
That same weekend, we undecorated our tree, threw it out over the balcony to haul it off later. The tree’s “bad breath” had even contaminated the wrapping paper of the presents. We had to unwrap and rewrap all the gifts (I needed a HazMat suit), and spray a massive amount of air freshener. Fortunately, we did not have to file an insurance claim to fumigate.
Good intentions are what they are, good intentions. As leaders, we should show up and provide good intentions every day. However, we must make sure that they are on the right side and can make a positive impact on the greater good. Intentions should be based on the test of time and values.
As leaders, we also need to be conscious of our intent. With every intent, there is always a motive. We just wanted a tree that would stay fresh and green longer. In the end, our “why” was on the good side. The “why” of intentions will always show a leader’s true character.
As I look back, we really had good intentions for our first Christmas tree. Now, we just laugh and ask, “Remember when?” However, it just did not work out. What I learned, though, is never to have a live tree again. By the way, we did not get another tree that first year.
Hoping each and every one of you and your families has a great Christmas season…
Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others
©2019 J Clay Norton
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Charlotte Walker said:
Fabulous! Good intentions are like the best laid plans of mice & men — they oft go awry!
Merry Christmas, and thanks for the nudge to evaluate the “why”!
The Book Chamber said:
Thanks for the comment.