December 17, 2020

There’s a Message In The Stars for You Tonight!

It must be a childhood thing.
Distant seasons of listening to stunning chorals and chorales flowing from choirs of nuns.

Because I do go quite weak and gooey whenever I start singing Christmas carols.
Real, rich, inspired carols, you understand.
Brought to us by evocative voices, like those of Kings College Cambridge.
Carols echoing wonder and rejoicing and hope, ringing through the countless years.

(We certainly need some of that – Hope – as we turn our backs on this testing year).

Yet, there are one or two which I struggle to sing.
Not because I’m a hopeless singer, you understand.
(For those who’ve sung around me… that’s accepted. Tolerated, with merely a sigh or a glance.)

Rather, because my throat closes and I can hardly squeak the words.
So, I mouth them silently.

Amongst my favourites is one written as recently as 1962.
And recorded by literally hundreds of artists since then.

Why so popular?

Because it was written during a week of rising fear and terror…
A global fear, brought about by the Cuban missile crisis.

It was written as a call to humanity.
An appeal to something worth far more than national pride.
It’s called “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

But its first verse – calling you to gaze at the night sky – asks the question…
”Do You SEE What I See?”

The question is a powerful one.
In any context: business or very personal.

And – of course – the question is hardly about what you observe with your eyes, is it?
It’s far deeper, and more piercing, than that.

I regularly ask it of leaders and teams I’m coaching.
”I wonder if you see… what’s being said here?”
”I wonder if you see… where this decision could lead?”
”I wonder if you see… what clients feel about what you’re doing?”
”I wonder if you see… the impact your leadership is having on the people around you?”

Because, the fact is, we can be so self-absorbed in our own world…
in our own certainty… in our habitual walk… in the comfort of our logic,
That we – too often – become ignorant of the near-miraculous, the life-enhancing around us.
The wonder and beauty and possibility lying tantalisingly beyond the project, the task or the checklist.

Or beyond our desire to always win.

When we’re that blind, we diminish and demean and dismiss others’ future.
At a time when we need to be building and magnifying and strengthening them.

“If you but look at the night sky”, (the carol pleads)…
”you’ll see a wondrous star roaring through the heavens.
A star with a tail as big as a kite”,
we’re told.

What has happened to the journey of my life teaches me this…

That star could just as easily be the team member – or the client’s dreams – you completely underestimate.
It might be a phrase in this Thinking Bench blog…
That might reshape your life.

It might cause you to consider a season like this – “Christmas” – through new eyes.
Eyes, like a child, undimmed by the weariness and cynicism of the noisy, grinding years.

The question then is not “Can We Achieve This?”
Or “Can We Learn This or Monetise That? “
”Construct This or Market That?”

Ultimately, all of that is trivial.

The question… the very first question…
THE question… as you look at the eternity of the night sky… is this…

”Do You Even See It?
Do You See The Question Life is Asking of You Today? Now?

Do You See… What I See?”