The Best Holiday Advice from My Family

via The Washington Post

via The Washington Post

Happy Holidays, retailers and welcome back to RetailBound’s blog! After nearly two weeks of silence, we’re finally back!!

The holiday season is all about spending time with family. I don’t know about your family, but mine is just a little bit… quirky. Around Christmas Day in our house, you are guaranteed a few things: everyone will show up with a pie, whether they were asked to bring one or not (seriously, I think there are still five untouched pies left); we will argue about politics, because that’s what we do for fun; a dog will manage to convince at least one family member that they will literally die unless you slip them some of that pot roast/pie/ham/whatever-you’re-eating; and, as everyone starts to shuffle out the door, each member of my family will give me some piece of sterling life advice.

As the Christmas festivities were winding down and my parents and I were talking about the events of the day, we began discussing all the advice my family has given me over the years and how much of it has really made a difference. As it turns out, a lot of those passing comments from relatives have actually really mattered. I mean, sure there have been quite a few of the “keep your nose clean” remarks, but many times I’ve kept the advice my family has given me tucked away in my mind and, either consciously or not, have acted on it.

So, to commemorate this special time of year and my very special family, here are the top five family counsels from this holiday season…

1.       “Think twice – think the first time and then think about it again”

Yes, that’s the actual quote. As strange as it may sound, my granddad has a pretty good point. As humans in a high-tech world, we are driven by efficiency – which we often think of as getting things done as quickly as possible. This leads to us quickly skimming over possible solutions or problems, and not really thinking about potential side-effects from acting quickly. Thinking twice may be slower today, but faster in the long-term as it helps avoid problems from acting too quickly.

2.       “If you generalize your weaknesses, they’ll never go away”

I’m going into my first real career interviews the second week of January (EEK!) and the dreaded interview question, “What is your biggest weakness” has been on my mind. A very close family friend asked me how I would answer this question honestly myself. I said that my biggest weakness is definitely time management. But my friend wasn’t satisfied by this answer, because generalizing my weakness made me powerless; I was resigned to just deal with my character flaw and every time I was late to a deadline or pulled an all-nighter the night before, it wasn’t really my fault, it’s just my time management flaw. Sorry!

What I realized was, the more specific I became, the more power I had over the problem. I’m not bad at managing my time – I’m just really involved with a lot of interests, and I’ve never taken the time to assign importance to my interests. If I knew what really mattered to me, maybe I’d start saying no to the things that aren’t important instead of trying to do it all and getting overwhelmed and behind. Being specific about why I thought I had poor time management helped me find a way to combat the weakness.

3.       “Don’t look for the perfect job, look for the perfect boss”

To be honest, I had been given this advice before this holiday season, but it’s one that keeps on giving. I can’t tell you how many situations this has been true. In fact, it’s how I found my job here at RetailBound! In the classroom, too, it’s not always the class material that really matters, but the instructor. In work, it’s not always the work I’m doing, but my boss’s ability to mentor me as I grow. Personal connections with coworkers, superiors, or peers often are more important than the actual work being done.

4.       “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”

This may shock you, but my grandpa didn’t actually come up with this, as he claims (actually, interesting side note, neither did Shakespeare as many believe. It’s from, “Marmion” by Sir Walter Scott), but it is one of his favorite quotes to share any time the family is gathered. My grandpa (and Sir Walter Scott), make a great point. Keeping up with the lies is a lot like being stuck in a tangled web. Everyone knows it’s best to be honest, but sometimes we don’t live like it. Try to remember that living as yourself is a lot more rewarding than the exhausting work of keeping up with our dishonesties.

5.       “Forgiveness is power”

By far my favorite piece of advice this holiday season came from my seven year old nephew who was talking about how upset he was with his one year old sister for breaking his Nintendo DS. While he was telling the story, I was preparing to have a serious-aunt teaching moment, but I never had to. Before I even opened my mouth to say that sometimes these things happen, my second-grader nephew said, “But being mad at her won’t fix my DS, and sometimes I forget to be mad because it’s hard to do it for so long.” At only seven, my nephew embodied the Buddhist saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” better than any adult I have ever met.

Sometimes, it’s more than a broken game. Sometimes, it’s a broken heart or family or career. But being angry won’t fix the problem; it will only give the problem power over you. Accepting an apology we never got is one of the most commanding tools in the shed.

Some of the best advice comes from the least expected places, or from people we sometimes take for granted. However you spend your holiday season, keep your ears and mind open to new possibilities. You never know where the inspiration for your next break through will be!

Does any of this advice ring true for you? Or do you have any family gems to add to the list? Tell us about them on our blog, Facebook, or Twitter! And from everyone here at Retail Bound, have a very happy holiday season!

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