Celebrating the Gifts of the Season

The party is over. The gifts have all been given. The wrappings and ribbons have been discarded. Now, it is time to make some decisions. What will you do with all the gifts you received?

Maybe you will return that woolly scarf for the nice soft one you really wanted. That Penn State sweatshirt your mother gave you in the size you wore your freshman year may be a candidate for regifting to your nephew. But those handmade cards and ornaments from children and grandchildren will be treasured forever.

What will you do with the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and experience that you acquired in 2022? Those lessons learned, no matter how bitter or sweet, are a part of you now. Here are a few gifts shared and received that may serve you well in the years to come.


Determination is an acquired trait. The ability to persevere in the face of great obstacles distinguishes successful people. Having the determination and self-discipline to endure discomfort strengthens our abilities. By trying hard enough, we become determined enough to win.


Be an inspiration to your employees, associates, and clients. Model good behavior and refuse to get dragged into the mud. Do your best to avoid negative people, and negative conversations. Keeping a cheerful outlook when those around you are swimming in negativity will bring balance into your personal, professional, and spiritual life. As you achieve that balance, you will see you find satisfaction in all the areas of your life.            


Strong leadership seems to be in dwindling supply in our country, our families, and in our businesses. History reminds us that strong leadership can change the world. Think of Sir Winston Churchill. His strength of character, purpose, and vision inspired a nation to endure the hardship and pain of war and survive with its humanity intact. Leadership requires self-discipline and the courage to lead by example.


Goal setting is the fundamental key to success. Whether it’s growing your business, learning a new skill, or rekindling a relationship, setting goals lets us create our future. It also helps us grow and expand, pushing ourselves to transform in ways that we never imagined. Without a clear target, you’ll never hit your mark.

Goal setting helps keep us accountable. Without a goal, we tend to flounder. Set your goals, review them periodically, and adjust them if necessary. Above all, never confuse setting goals with achieving them.


We learn a lot from our mistakes, and that learning propels us closer to our goals. Most mistakes are unintentional, but we are accountable, nonetheless. Own it and resolve to do better next time. When we know better, we do better.


Pay attention to the things that make you laugh and smile. Many years ago, I was interviewing for a senior management position with a national engineering and construction firm. The President was discussing the long hours, rigid deadlines, and tension-filled atmosphere that I could expect if I joined the firm. He asked me what I did in my current position to reduce tension. “Well, we laugh a lot,” I replied. It became clear quite quickly that this man hadn’t cracked a smile since childhood and wasn’t about to start anytime soon.

Growing up in an Irish family, I learned to see the humor in every situation. The most uncomfortable and emotionally charged moments were quickly transformed into light-heated, humorous banter. We learned not to take ourselves too seriously. It is the ultimate coping skill for the Irish people, and one that I enjoy.

Give yourself a gift this year that will serve you well and make you smile.

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