I have no hesitation to not only accept but to embrace the terms of endearment that are used to describe me. Extreme, over the top, extra, the list goes on. I have learned to reign in my intenseness when needed. Thank goodness Christmas Village season is not one of those times. I may be a week early and I didn’t forget about the turkey, but my excitement just couldn’t be contained. Here, I am allowed to let my imagination and slight insanity guide me. I plan, I build, I obsess. I set up just to move an entire section. I make sure that my mini community flows and makes sense. Every piece has a place and every “person” has a purpose. I regularly run to the store mid project because something is missing. I trash entire structures because they don’t fit my vision. I tell you this not to solidify my reputation as the village nut, but to set the stage. Our businesses, our teams, our organizations all require structure and planning. When they function at their best they are orderly and methodical. All the cogs are turning without hindrance and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together seamlessly. It takes a village to foster greatness, whether it be in your shop, on your sales floor or on tables spanning 24 feet of my living room wall.
As I was constructing this year’s village I thought about ETE, and I thought about the places I had worked previously. I pondered why (besides the obvious reason of being awesome) that I have been here for almost eight years with no intent of leaving, whereas in the past I knew it wasn’t my forever after just eight hours. The answer came to me as I plugged in that final cord. Maybe it was the jolt of electricity, but regardless it was enlightening. We build together. We grow together. We fail, and try again together. We are a cohesive, safe, prosperous place where our shared values promote a continuous culture of learning and development. We are more than family, we are a village.
Fluffy fake snow, twinkling lights and tiny plastic people would be a neat sight in the atrium but that’s not what powers our village.
- Perpetual Growth: Last year I had twelve feet of village, this year it doubled. The next few years are projected to grow but at a less intense rate. Just like a successful organization there are booming gains and excitement followed by maintenance. When we are busy it feels great, but when we are able to stop and take a breath we are allowed to reflect and recharge. These are the times that we can take a step back and enjoy all the work that went into making something beautiful.
- Ability to Change: Sometimes even the most thought out plan doesn’t cut it. In times like this you need to be able to rip apart the mistakes. Look at the scene objectively and decide what to do differently to make it work. Having the flexibility to make an error, acknowledge it and rebuild is priceless. This flaccidity is what gives us the ability to make good things great.
- Stable Groundwork: Without a stable infrastructure the village will collapse. Strength comes from the framework that was laid at conception. Building upon a crumbling foundation is a promise of failure. Ensure that you have a solid support system that stands upon its sturdy base. Employees, customers and even Santa will feel secure and invested when they feel safe.
- Sky’s the Limit: Don’t stop at one level. Or two. Transmission, transfer cases and engines, Oh My! Let your imagination and commitment to development work together to make dreams a reality.
- Sensibility: Be aware of what your business needs and pave the way cleanly and concisely. Make sure that your workforce follows protocols, lives up to company standards and that these rules and standards make sense. “Because I said so”, or “that’s the way we have always done it” is not how our freeways to success remain free of congestion. If all your roads lead to the village tavern or the chicken shack you can imagine what you’ll end up with.
- Diversity: Know that not every person is going to be a leader. Some want to be that core employee that kicks butt at their job but can go home and not worry about who shut off the lights. Others are going to come in guns blazing just waiting for the opportunity to snag a promotion. A workforce needs a mixed bag of people to get the job done. Not everyone can be Rudolph. The sleigh won’t move without using the individual strengths of the entire team.
I know the question that looms in your minds. But did she put the tree up already? I did. Two of them.
From my judgement free village to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!