Byron's Babbles

Bah Humbug! Leadership

  Last year I wrote a post about the classic Christmas movies Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Elf (click here to read the post). That post started an annual tradition, right? Well I guess so, because I’m doing it again this year. I missed church this morning because of a cow having a calf and when I came in I got caught up watching Disney’s A Christmas Carol – An animated retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic novel about a Victorian-era miser taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions. As I watched I was struck by the many leadership lessons.  

 I was first struck by the fact that Scrooge would be considered successful by today’s standards – money, drive, and disciplined. But, remember there is a difference between success and significance. I have reflected on wanting to be more significant than successful a lot now that I have entered the second half of life. I am reminded of what the scripture says in Luke 12:48: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (King James Version) I like The Message version even better: “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” Fortunately, Scrooge learned that he must use his success for significance in his second half. My favorite lines from Dickens sum up Scrooge’s transformation from success to significance quite well:

 “A merry Christmas, Bob,” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Furthermore, Scrooge taught us to be passionate about what we do. Whether Scrooge was busy piling up his riches or becoming a new man after the ghosts visited him, he went after everything to the full extent of his being. As a miser, however, he let the love of his own life supersede his ability to have an impact on others. Remember, what we do for others is the best measure of how we have used our time, treasures, and talent. 

 In the end Scrooge comes through for us and teaches us a very important leadership lesson. He teaches us to learn from history and experience. Additionally he teaches us, as leaders, to put into practice what we have learned. It took four ghosts to break Scrooge of his idolization of money, and they showed him his own historical journey through life, the experiences of many others, and what could be his future journey of significance. Once Scrooge learned the necessary personal growth lessons, he changed his entire life, literally overnight. What a transformational leader. He gave to the poor; he reconnected with the only family he had, his nephew, Bob Cratchett. He grew especially close to Tiny Tim, who was shown dying by the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Christmas Future. As we know, Tiny Tim lives. 

Charles Dickens’ best-loved story is one of personal transformation. Changing leadership behaviors and achieving significance in life requires experience, not just consideration of intellectual concepts. Each of Scrooge’s experiences brings him closer to the major transformation which ultimately determined his future. Nonetheless, all of these experiences were important to his transformation. Scrooge had the opportunity to relive the past, truly experience the present, and anticipate the future.

During this holiday season take some time to reflect on the past, enjoy today’s blessings, and anticipate and plan for living a life of significance.

“God bless us! Every one!” ~ Tiny Tim


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