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Tough Calls: Game-Winning Principles for Leaders Under Pressure

(New Hope Publishers)

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Refereeing the Holiday Frenzy

Travis Collins
Author, Tough Calls: Game-Winning Principles for Leaders Under Pressure The marathon-like pace brought about by the holiday season often takes a toll on individuals and their loved ones. In an American Psychological Association study, about two-thirds of participants reported feeling stressed and fatigued during the holiday season. Financial woes exert extra pressure this year as Santa’s elves may keep production low, and households across the country may find their worries taking a toll on family harmony this season. Trying to orchestrate the demands placed upon individuals and their families during the season is akin to refereeing a high-stakes football game. So, the next time you are faced with ever-mounting pressure brought about by the holiday frenzy, try these tips when making “tough calls:”

1. Call unsportsmanlike conduct. Working as a team is crucial to a family’s success. Create a family budget for the holidays including food, gift and entertainment expenses. If one member’s Christmas list knowingly blows the budget call a personal foul and just say no! Make a compromise and buy a less expensive model of the gadget such as purchasing an iPod shuffle instead of an iPod Nano.

2. Know who wears the white hat. Make sure that the members of your family know who is calling the shots. Talk to your spouse about which events you will attend and what your kids can expect when accepting invitations. If they want to attend an unchaperoned party, and you feel uncomfortable with the situation, then offer to host your own holiday gathering for your children and their friends.

3. Have a pre-game huddle. With in-laws, uncles and aunts coming in for the holidays, tensions can run high as you prepare to welcome a nagging mother in-law or grouchy uncle. When your family lets out a collective groan at the thought of their crazy 3-year-old spawn of a cousin’s arrival, it is important to have a time-out and discuss a plan of approach. Give a pep-talk to ensure that they realize the importance of family and treating them with respect and care. Let them know what you expect and what the consequences are if anyone in the family chooses to ignore the rules.

4. Recover your team’s fumble. We all do it. The holiday sales and savings inevitably hold us captive at some point during the season, leading consumers to buy much more than they need. Children especially are bombarded by advertisements for toys, movies and books until they become obsessed with getting the latest Elmo doll or Wii game. This is the ideal time to get your family involved with a charity organization such as Toys for Tots or Meals on Wheels to switch their focus to giving rather than receiving this year.

5. Call a time-out. Remember that the holidays are a time to be thankful, relax and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Parties, school performances and other such events don’t give your family the opportunity to truly enjoy one another. This year try and schedule some family time with a movie or game night. Also, check community calendars for family activities – which are often free – in your area.

Copyright © 2008 by Travis Collins. Used by permission.

Travis Collins is a high school football official, senior pastor and dad. As a parent, Collins has refereed his kids and family for many Christmas seasons. His new book, Tough Calls: Game-Winning Principles for Leaders Under Pressure (New Hope Publishers, September 2008), draws from famous and infamous accounts from the world of sports to emphasize leadership excellence. A pastor of a large church, he often finds the value of lessons learned on the field as they pertain to leadership in all types of organizations, even families.


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