As I turned toward the center of the church on Christmas Eve to hear the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke being read regarding the birth of Jesus Christ, I realized that I was hearing the same passage being read for the 56th time in my life (I may not remember the first several, but you can bet I was in church during those years). On this day, the 56th Christmas Eve service I had attended, I was hearing the same words spoken..."And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed..." I have to admit that hearing the words spoken in the King James Version is still my favorite. I will put up with the NIV or the ESV, but I am never so happy as when I hear the story spoken in the language in which I had come to memorize those words. And so as I listened, I was again enthralled with the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Luke.
So what does this have to do with leadership? I read somewhere (perhaps it was something by Peter Drucker) that said when people get tired of hearing about the mission, you have just begun talking about it. The STORY of your organization must be told over and over again...and it is best if it is done in a way that resonates with everyone. To tell the STORY (the organization's mission, vision, values, and culture) is critical to keeping the STORY alive. Part of it is its history...part of it is its successes...part of it is its day-to-day workings...and part of it is the story that reminds people of why you do what you do.
When I heard the words "And it came to pass..." I began reciting the words inwardly to myself because I knew them so well. Would it be the same way in your organization? Can people recite the story to themselves and others? Do they know what the story is? When they gather, is there an anticipation that the story will be told again? Does the story remind them of the importance of what they do - and how they do it?
What is your organization's story - and how important is it for the people to hear it over and over again? What milestone is celebrated each year so that the story can be told in its entirety? For us, the beginning of a new school year marks that time...yet I will never pass up the opportunity to remind people of the story - and why it is important to the institution. part of my job is too ensure that the story is kept alive. What will you do in the new year to keep your organization's story alive?