Archive for the ‘community’ Category

St. Nicholas & the Christmas Season

Friday, December 16th, 2011

St. Nicholas is Santa’s real name. St. Nicholas, who was a 4th Century bishop, is Patron Saint of children, sailors, bakers, pawn-brokers and Russia, among other things. We have been celebrating St. Nicholas Day, which falls on 6th December, for many years, and its become a tradition among our family and friends to meet every year on St. Nicholas Day to mark the beginning of the Christmas Season.

We became aware of St. Nicholas Day years ago when we were living in Naxos, Greece, with our young children. One day, my husband went to the bank and took an extraordinarily long time. It turned out that he had been delayed because it was the bank manager’s Name Day (St. Nicholas Day) and everyone at the bank, staff and the people waiting in the queue, were served brandy and cake to celebrate.

This seemed so joyous and generous to us that we determined that day to apply this same generosity of spirit to our own lives, and especially to our celebration of Christmas. In Australia, we had become put off and a bit jaded by the tackiness, greed and emptiness that Christmas seemed to be becoming. In Naxos, where people lived simply as they had done for thousands of years and many in Naxos Town still lived in one-room houses and had little money for luxuries, they never-the-less found the time, spirit and wisdom to constantly celebrate life. They did this by meeting in the tavernas every evening, promenading along the Paralia on Sunday mornings after church in their Sunday Best, meeting, talking and even cooking in the ancient alleys and serving brandy at the bank.

For my family, St. Nicholas Day has come to represent the celebration of the real spirit of Christmas. As Patron Saint of children, St. Nicholas is the ideal symbol of Christmas, which is a celebration of human hope and renewal through it’s focus on the birth of a symbolic child, and it’s roots in the more ancient winter festival to hasten the return of the sun and the summer harvest.

This year, like every year, we gathered to celebrate St. Nicholas Day and the spirit of family, children, friendship and generosity that St. Nicholas represents. Now, the Christmas Season is in full swing, and we wish you, your colleagues, family and friends great joy.


Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

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NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Murder in the Village: Teamwork & Community

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

This week there was a triple murder in my village. In the little, historic town of Kapunda on the edge of the Barossa Valley in South Australia, three streets away from my house, a family of three was brutally stabbed to death. No one knows at this stage who did it, or why it happened.

My family has had a house in Kapunda for 20 years now, and though we don’t live there permanently any more, it’s where we raised our children and where we go to “get away” from things, to think, and garden and relax.

Even though I no longer live there full-time, I’ve been shocked at how deeply this event has affected my psyche. Given that I neither know the family involved, nor am a permanent resident of the town any more, I almost feel guilty that I’ve been so deeply disturbed.

It’s not so much that I am a bit afraid now (though I am) but that its broken something, that it’s taken away a sense of community and security that I’ve always taken for granted, and now have to rethink and re-integrate.

It makes me ask things of myself : If I’d been there, surely at only three streets away, I would have heard something? Would I have done anything? Could I have helped? Would I have knocked on neighbours’ doors and galavanised some help for the family? Surely I would have rung the police? How can a family of three be brutally murdered and nobody heard anything or went to help? Why do we live in communities if they don’t provide protection and support? What does this mean about human nature or the modern world? I imagine that these are the things we are all asking ourselves.

Our family friend, who was once the local policeman in Kapunda, says that people don’t respond to things anymore because they are too afraid to get involved. This makes me almost as disturbed as the murders have.

What is the point of all the effort, money and time we put in in business and the general workplace building “teams” and developing “ teamwork”, if in our private lives, our sense of community is breaking down? A team is just a small community, with common goals, concerns and values. And a workplace is just a “village”, a reflection of the wider world. It’s a mistake to think that we can separate our public and our private lives. We can’t on the one hand want to work as a team at work (or indeed on the sports field) and on the other totally ignore our place as part of a community when we come home.

In a very real way, the world has become a “Global Village” which we all notice and understand. Nearly every day, I and most people I know, have contact with people all around the country and overseas. Our connections are instant and real. We email, talk, publish, read and write blogs, and generally interconnect in a way that has never been possible before. Most of us are energised by it.

This deep seated human desire and instinct to communicate and connect with each other has always made me feel reassured. It’s made me feel a very real sense of community and empathy for shared experience. It’s made me feel like I was part of something. As a species, our co-existing drive for competition is like icing on the cake, I think, in that it spices our underlying imperative for cooperation.

Without cooperation there is no community, and most certainly there are no teams.

This week, a murder in my village has rocked me deeply. Unlike the fictional and almost genteel murders of Agatha Christie or Midsomer Murders, a real murder in a village cuts at the heart of community, and affects us all.

Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company.