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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The "Gift"


Tucked away in a safe place within the walls of my heart, is a vision of my Father, Christmas Eve some 22 years ago. I can vividly see the look upon my Father’s face, because it was a look that transcended all expression. It was beyond gratitude or joy and it was as if he were recording our faces, our voices and acts to be filed for ready access in the depths of his soul It was as if he had something to say, but couldn’t express it. I didn’t know what it was but I felt it to be deep and profound.

It was that Christmas that I learned something that I have referred to as “The Gift”!

12 days later a family meeting was called by my Father and he obviously had something on his mind. With a heavy heart he shared with us that before he was released from the hospital (a few days before Christmas) he was told that the cancer had spread and was given 3 months to live. He explained to us that he didn’t want to ruin our holiday and wanted to give the family the 12 days of Christmas.

That day the light bulb went off for me, as I realized that on Christmas Eve, my Father was drinking it all in for the last time. Less than 3 months later, my Father passed away.

So let me say it for you . . . where is “The Gift” in that? Seems to me to be an unnecessary emotional bomb that I just dropped on you. No? There are in fact, many. Please read on.

The first is a constant reminder that if my Dad could keep himself from wearing devastating news like that on his sleeve, perhaps I can keep whatever BS I’m going through off of mine! And let’s not pretend that we don’t know what I’m talking about either. I’m talking about the boss, the job, the A-hole who stole the parking spot, the kids, the wife, the bills, and for the “Bah Humbug” crowd . . . . the season!

When I am guilty of wearing those things on my sleeve (and I am), perhaps I am also guilty of getting in the way of someone else’s joy. Something for us all to think about next time we care to offer someone an invite to our pity party. Might be a “gift” in understanding that one!

The other “gift” is savoring the moment, involving all of your senses and living the holiday (and dare I say, our lives) as if this will be the last one. Someday we’ll be right!

I believe there is also a “gift” in catching yourself enjoying that moment. Don’t they call it the present for a reason? Personally, I think it sucks when we are enjoying a moment solely in retrospect! I triple dog dare you to catch yourself in the act of enjoying your life!

Gratitude is yet another gift that I have taken away from that event. Gratitude that I saw the moment when my Dad was savoring his last Christmas. In that moment, I was able to share something very profound . . . a moment when someone who had come to the end of their journey was counting their blessings!

Additional “gifts” come from that knowledge too. All of us have an expiration date. If you knew you were on your final 3 months would you be filled with regret or gratitude? Even more “gifts” come our way with the ability to start, right now in positioning ourselves for a “regret free” life!

There’s still more, I promise!

If we can’t embrace gratitude, how about refusing to allow resentment to enter our lives? Not once during his final days did he ever convey feelings of resentment for a life cut short at 65! Instead of anger that Christmas Eve, he was grateful. And don’t think that I’ve never had to face anger and resentment in my own journey. There were many times when I was rebuilding my life that I allowed those feelings to creep in. Reflecting back on Dad’s last Christmas Eve always gave me the necessary kick in the ass I needed to stay the course. Speaking of which; do you need a swift kick in the ass? It’s OK if you do, mine has been numb from the necessary kicks from time to time!

“The Gift” is also an opportunity for us to become selfishly selfless. It means finding a need, thinking beyond ourselves and giving unconditionally. How?

Giving of encouragement. Never, ever underestimate the power of giving someone the ability to take another round!
Giving of our time, our patience and our genuine interest!
Giving of our prayers . . . who doesn’t need a little spiritual good press these days?
“The gift” of forgiveness as well as “the gift” to remove our ego’s long enough to ask someone else to forgive us!
And in true "Charity begins at home" spirit . . . how about the gift of forgiving yourself and understanding that "failure" is merely part of the process of becoming successful.

“The gift” of giving someone their "flowers" while they are alive (instead of later on their tombstone) by telling them you love them, what they mean to you, how they’ve inspired you, what you’ve learned from them etc. Just give them their tribute now, so they too can enjoy a “gift”! The ultimate "gift" is the urgency to do that now!

“The gift” of joy we feel when we know we helped create joy in someone else’s life.

The final "gift" is the ability to take our own sad stories, challenges and speed bumps and somehow take something from it! In that moment, you may have something that becomes "a gift that keeps giving"!

With that, I want to thank you all for my “gift” . . . the opportunity to share something personal that profoundly shaped my life. I share it with the hope that it will breed numerous “gifts” to you and all those who surround you this holiday season!

Please take a moment to look, to savor and to embrace the many gifts that surround you! They are there. Sometimes we just need to look a little harder!

Oh, and before I forget . . . Dad, thank you for “the gift”!

Wishing you and your family blessings of peace, joy and more “gifts” than could ever fit under your tree!

Happy Holidays!

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21 comments:

  1. michael castain like this.....gift!

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  2. THANKS PAUL MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    LOVE YOUR BROTHER
    MICHAEL

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  3. Paul,
    Amazing! So many lessons here for us to chew on. Keep doing what you do!
    Linda

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  4. Paul,

    Thanks for that kick. I admit to wearing some of my BS on my sleeve for my family to see. Thanks to you, that will ends for the next few days and hopefully longer.

    Merry Christmas.

    Greg Dove

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  5. WOW! What another great post, you truly inspire me...one of my "gifts " this year has been connecting with you. God Bless you and your family.

    Kim

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  6. @ Michael: Thank you my brother! See on you on Christmas :)

    @ Linda: I appreciate that and have to say I'm still working through many of those "gifts" myself!

    @ Greg Dove: You and me both. The good news is that today is a fresh new opportunity for you and I to embrace the kick and start kicking ass!

    Michael, Linda and Greg . . . thank you for stopping by!

    Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Paul:

    Thank you for taking the time to share "your gift" with us. Not just in this story, but in taking time to share "you", your thoughts, insights. I follow very few posts on the web, yours is one I look forward to and I make the time to read and digest. I wish you and your family a safe and joyous holiday season.

    Bob

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  8. Paul you hit it on the head when you noted the need for "Prayers...spritual good press" during this Christmas season. That is the real gift that keeps on giving!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    It is easy to see who enjoys these first few Christmas's when a little child is involved; Mommy and Daddy!

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  9. In our hetic world of sales we are always under pressure to be thinking about the "next deal". Paul message reminds me to, Take the time to reflex and enjoy those that we did close and be thankful for them"
    Lee

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  10. Paul,

    Another "out of the park" look on life by the Grand Master of Sales. I just wish more people had your wisdom to appreciate life for what it truly is!!!

    Merry Christmas
    Jeremy

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  11. Paul

    What a truly awesome reminder that gifts are laying at our feet and we only need to bend over and pick them up. I am thankful this year for the gift of many lessons and especially my connection to this blog. Your 'gifts' are always inspiring. Keep keeping on!

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  12. Merry Christmas Paulie!
    Thank you, Thank you.
    Blessings to everyone.
    Sal

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  13. Another wonderful read, Paul. Thank you.
    May you and all those whom you love enjoy a wonderful holiday, and a very happy, healthy 2010!
    - Rich Parr

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  14. Merry Christmas Paulie!
    Thank you for that. Wonderful - needed it!
    Blessings to everyone!
    Sal

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  15. Paul - another fantastic post. Thank you so much for sharing this story and your insights. So important to remember that even when we're as low as we can be we're still vertical and each day brings new promise.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family,
    Beth Chapmon

    P.S. What was it you said the other day about auditioning to replace Paula Abdul? Gonna have to use that one after reading all this.

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  16. Paul -

    As always, very well written and I appreciate your gift to us this morning. I couldn't agree with you more.

    Lately I've been wearing so much BS on my sleeve that it's really starting to stink. Time to get out the broom and wipe it all away.

    Wishing a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2010 to you and your family,

    Michael

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  17. How'd you get so schmart for a dillweed of so few years? Good post, you old soul.

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  18. I'm sitting at my desk a little teary eyed and I'm not even listening to the "shoe song". Thanks for sharing that Paul. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Lisa

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  19. What an excellent and REAL story. I try to keep similar thoughts/attitude after my mom passed away from cancer

    I am reminded of the quote- taped to my computer -

    "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we didn't get sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.' - Buddha

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  20. Paul,

    Another gem of a post, thank you.
    Finding sales playbook early this year had been a real pleasure and I have learned and laughed a lot this year.

    Happy New Year to all.
    Cheers,
    Jamie

    ReplyDelete

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul ctstrainer@yahoo.com. This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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