With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, I have turkey on my brain…and stuffing, mashed potatoes, and a little pumpkin pie to go with my whipped cream! And…community, as I am spending the week with my family this year.
There’s a reason many people don’t dine alone at Thanksgiving: they want to share gratitude with others. In my 20s, I spent too many Thanksgivings alone. My tiny Cornish hen (pretending to be a turkey) looked so insignificant on my plate. The atmosphere at my nearly-empty dining table seemed stagnant. The whole experience felt more mechanical than meaningful, leaving me unfulfilled.
Lonely Thanksgivings no longer happen for me, as the people in my life now know how much I appreciate being with them on this holiday. Now, I always have an invite to be with friends, neighbors, or family. I am grateful to my friend Stacey, my neighbor Margaret, and my sister Christine for this and many past Thanksgivings I’ve spent in their homes feeling “at home”.
Unfortunately, it’s not just during the holidays where loneliness seems to be widespread. In my work, I have heard several executives say, “It’s lonely at the top.” They experience solitude for a variety of reasons. There is vision to be realized through alignment, proving difficult when too many others get involved at the formative stages. There are major decisions in play which they must keep “close to the vest” for legitimate reasons. They carry the weight of organization-wide headaches which they keep from others in order not to burden too many souls.
Looking back on both my lonely Thanksgivings and conversations with lonely executives, I am reminded that choice is always at play in life. Leadership involves an active choice to: be with, and include, others; serve them; and inspire a “ripple effect” of responsibility. So, conscious choice may be an antidote for isolation. I know that whatever I used to justify the Thanksgivings I spent alone, or why those executives felt so lonely (be it ego and pride, or feeling a victim of circumstances), we are all responsible for our choices.
People benefit from community in work and life. Creating community provides support to translate vision into reality. This year, my family is helping make my vision of a fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday a reality.
This Week: If you find yourself alone, please reach out to someone in your community. Another voice at the end of a telephone might bring connection that they also need. Have a blessed holiday, giving thanks for what you have.
In Next Week’s Post: Adapting to change
Your Journey of Leadership
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