A Leadership Gift: Waiting

“Much more important than the goal is the presence of God: walking with us on the way and helping us to realize that waiting can be as important as achieving … God summons us to go out but does not always tell us where to, or why … for that we must wait, but in the waiting we can, sometimes, discover a meaning.” – Paula Gooder

The end of the year can be a busy season.  Businesses may be looking at year end financials, and retail shops have extended hours.  Nonprofits are in a high season of engaging with donors.  Schools are doing holiday programs, and students are preparing for exams.  And then we have all the holiday gatherings with family and friends.

Yet, I see a paradox in all of this with the holiday season.  With the Christian tradition, it is advent season, and the actual theme of advent is waiting.  Waiting seems to contradict the reality of our cultural holiday season.  However, I think waiting is the best gift that we can receive.

Here are some ways to apply waiting and receive the rich meaning of this gift in this season:

Be Fully in the Moment

Waiting requires us to engage in the “now.”  Often at this time, we are thinking about the past year or thinking ahead to what needs to be done.  Waiting pulls the past and future together into the present moment.  Yes, we need to learn from the past and plan for the future, but right now is when we are living.  We need to live each moment fully – feel it, breathe it, enjoy it, wrestle with it.  Waiting brings meaning to the life we are living right now.

Be Present and Authentic with People

We often have a long list of things to accomplish, but it is people who help us to get to those goals.  In teams, we need people to reach our year end objectives.  Even with buying gifts, it is not about the product we are buying, but about the person who is to receive the gift.  Yet, in our busyness, we lose sight of the purpose.  We let our goal focus, turn people into objects along the way.  Waiting slows us down to engage with people, a deeper meaning.

Be Fully You

We can become so driven and busy that we don’t fully be who we are.  We become this robot of just getting things done.  This can often mask who we truly are to ourselves and to others.  I met with a leader recently, who received feedback that people’s perception of her was not her intention.  She has a high amount of empathy and cares about others, but her goal focus was overriding her true self coming out to others.  Waiting puts us in touch with the deeper meaning of who we truly are.

Here are some practical steps to apply waiting:

  • Slow down your thinking and refocus on your physical senses. Notice the beauty of nature.  What do your toes feel like?  Savor your food.
  • Listen deeply to people. Focus on what they are saying, not how you will respond.  Being able to repeat or summarize what they said shows you are listening.
  • When buying a gift, think about the person for whom you are buying it, not about just completing a task.
  • Reflect on your purpose and strengths. Did you live those out today?
  • Reflect on your past and future. How do they connect to your present purpose?
  • When asking for a donation, ask how does this connect to this person’s passions and values?
  • When giving a donation, ask yourself how it connects to your own passions and values?
  • Make a gratitude list.

Take time this season to receive and embrace the gift of waiting.

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