Running a business means always being keen to learn new lessons and techniques that also come from fields seemingly unrelated to your business. Classics are one of those fields.
"How does reading the classics make you better at business?" Michael Orter asks in an article for The Guardian.
"It is one of the best ways to cultivate our virtues, including perseverance, humility, and curiosity—three of the most important qualities of any great entrepreneur or star employee. The ability for a character in a story to model virtuous behavior for readers to emulate is incredibly powerful."
In fact, even the Harvard Business School has been providing insight on literature during its business classes.
Professor Joseph L. Badaracco, for instance, uses literature to provide his students with well-rounded, complex pictures of leaders using texts such as Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer. The aim is helping students understand questions of leadership, decision-making, and moral judgment.
So, here we have selected three Christmas classics you can learn something from and that you can read during your Christmas holidays. Never judge a book by its cover; it might be the Northern Star that inspires you to try a different approach toward your business or employees.
A Christmas Carol
Published for the first time in 1843, A Christmas Carol by Dickens is the story of Scrooge, an old stingy miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. This last one has the duty to show Scrooge what he will become if he continues behaving coldly. In fact, after their visits, Scrooge turns into a kinder man who helps poor people around him.
This is to say that you get what you give. If you plant good seeds and keep your fields fertile, at the end of the year, you will get a great harvest, which is essential for your business to go on. This can be interpreted either in terms of final incomes or as your relationship with your employees.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Created by Robert Lewis May, Rudolph is a youthful reindeer buck who has an unusual luminous red nose, which is the reason why he is mocked and excluded by his peers. But one Christmas Eve with poor visibility, Santa Claus catches sight of Rudolph's nose and asks him to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees and is finally welcomed by his fellow reindeer for his heroism and accomplishment.
Believe in yourself and put your ideas into practice—if you are sure they are good enough, they can turn into unbelievable richness for your business. And never surrender before you start; there is always someone who understands your value.
"'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug."
This is one of the most well-known opening lines in literature, but Alcott’s' Little Women is far more than this. It is the story of four sisters, each with her own personality and talent, who manage to live through difficulties and poverty. Although the finale is quite predictable, with the sisters getting married and building their own families, Little Women is a story of perseverance in following your own ambitions and individuality.
What does this have to do with your actual business? You can learn how important it is to survive difficulties and cultivate your ambitions.
Have you already read one of the books listed above? What are you planning to read during your Christmas holidays?
Written by Marcella Sartore, Marketing & Communication Assistant @ Athena Parthenos