This past week, like so many other people, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my rather large family here in Ann Arbor. Doing some quick math, I believe there were about 25 of us gathered for the annual family football contest followed by the feast. Several were unable to attend this year so that’s a bit small compared to years past.
This year, more than any other so far, I noticed something I really hadn’t before. The nieces and nephews, as well as my own two sons, are getting a lot older, and in many cases wiser as well.
One of our many traditions is prior to the meal everyone shares what they are most thankful for. As I listened to the kids express everything they are grateful for with such depth, insight and emotion, I realized they were no longer kids, they were rather amazing young adults.
With this recognition, it dawned on me that for so many years my bothers and sisters and I had really driven this holiday and our belief in what it stands for. It seems now the torch has passed to the next generation. They have taken the lessons instilled in this honored family tradition, embraced and internalized them and in a sense have renewed the spirit of the event. In fact, it seems they will carry these lessons with them and hopefully pass them along to their own children.
As this shift occurs, undoubtedly this next generation will place their own personal stamp on the time-honored traditions that we have kept sacred for all these years. The hard part for all of us is that we must allow these changes to happen.
Isn’t that the hardest part? Allowing others to take over the things we hold so dear, like our families, our traditions, or our businesses and our clients. Yet all we can do is prepare them as best we can, and instill some sense of meaning and purpose as to why we do the things we do. Ultimately they are going to do it their own way and in a way that makes the most sense for them.
If we didn’t allow this natural transition to happen, what would that say about us and how would that support the values and lessons we fought so hard to instill in those who will soon take over for us? As tough as it is to accept, we get to let go, embrace the new and allow those who have the talent and the desire to carry the torch to do so. Otherwise, the journey is meaningless, and I know that is not the case.
I was so humbled and touched by the moment and internally gave my brothers and sisters and quiet pat on the back for helping raise such a fine bunch of young women and men. Clearly the things we all hold in such high reverence have rubbed off on all of them.
I do realize that someday, like my grandparents and my parents, I will be relegated to the sidelines of this holiday. My role will be cheering them on, offering advice and raising a glass to their struggles and their successes.
Just to be clear, I’m not ready to hang up my cleats and retire from the family football game or any other game just yet. This old dog can still teach these young punks a thing or two about that and a whole lot more!
Ask yourself this week:
Where in my life or my business has the time come to pass the torch?
What area of responsibility am I holding on too tightly and smothering the growth of someone that I claim to care about?
Who in my life or my business has earned the right to take on more of the load?
How am I honoring the lessons I’ve taught to those I am invested in?
Thoughts for the week:
Life is not a brief candle, it is a splendid torch that must be made to burn as bright as possible before it is handed on to the next generation. -George Bernard Shaw
True leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders. -Unknown
Sometimes the advice you tell other people is the advice you need to follow. -Unknown
Enjoy the little things is life, for someday you will realize they were the big things. -Unknown
We do not remember days, we remember moments. -Cesare Pevase