Why Do We Want a White Christmas?
When I was driving last week, the ubiquitous White Christmas came on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, I began to lament that once again Christmas would be snowless in my North Carolina home. I was beginning to feel that once again I would be cheated out of the authentic Christmas experience.
Then a question arose in my head--why is snow associated with authentic Christmas? Certainly, when Christ was born in Bethlehem, there was no snow; it rarely snows in the Mideast. Also, the majority of Christians live in areas that are unlikely to get snow in December. Indeed about 60% of Christians live south of the equator and are enjoying summer on Christmas day.
Perhaps, the minority of Christians who live(d) in northern Europe or North America controlled the carol writing media of the day. Snow was normal to them, so they celebrated it. Some may say, they perfected the “sour grape” approach by managing to glorify cold and wet while demonizing the much more desirable warm and sun. And we accepted their view about the desirability of a snow filled Christmas.
As leaders, the myth of the white Christmas can be illustrative. What are the parts of our professional culture that seem to be obvious and true, but upon deeper reflection are not?
When I arrived at Duke School, attrition between lower and middle schools was very high. Rather than working to reduce the attrition, the school had internalized the myth that attrition between divisions was high in every PS--8 and that attrition had to be accepted as a cold, hard fact. Except it was not a fact and could be changed. Indeed, the leadership team created a strategy to reduce the attrition and it worked.
It is easy to accept the status quo as the way the world should and has always been. Leaders should look hard at what their organizations see as givens and determine if changing the givens are desirable and doable. They indeed may be.
And from now on, instead of praying for snow at Christmas, I’m going to enjoy the sun and warmth.