Every March 17th we celebrate St. Patrick's day by wearing green, drinking an inordinate amount of beer and toasting a Saint that most people do not even know about. It's a day that has been commercialized throughout the world and given restaurants, pubs, clubs, greeting card companies and special event gurus the ability to have a marketing bonanza. Aaaahhhh, the smell of free enterprise. It's alive and well on this St. Patrick's Day.
In all honesty, we could learn a few things from our Irish friends across the pond.
But first, as a former Catholic, I do want to pay homage to the guy that this whole celebrating the day is all about...St. Patrick. Here are the cliff notes. Saint Patrick was reportedly born to wealthy parents in the late 4th century A.D. in Roman England (or nearby). His real name was Maewyn Succat. Patricius was his romanicized and canonized name. At the age of sixteen he was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They took him to Ireland, where he became a slave. During his slavery he became a devout Christian. After his years of slavery, he escaped. He headed back to Britain, but he wrote that in a dream an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He studied his religion more than 15 years, became a priest and then later a bishop. He was sent to Ireland to administer to both existing Christians and to convert the Irish to Christianity. He used the Irish customs and symbols in this teachings to honor the Irish beliefs and meld them into their new faith. For these reasons, he was very successful in converting the Irish to Christianity. This didn't go over well with the Celtic Druids - the original religious leaders of the Irish. They arrested him several times, but he always escaped. His mission in Ireland lasted for three decades. He established monasteries, school and churches throughout the country. When he retired he moved to County Down and died on March 17th AD 461. He was canonized and this day has been celebrated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
So about our Irish friends....they are a hearty bunch. Let us strive, as we celebrate their day, to learn something from them.
1) They are a welcoming people. They are proud of their country and their heritage. They are generally happy, optimistic & joyful folks.
2) They show us that a simple life can be a very fulfilling life.
3) Their friendships are real and assuming. They enjoy being together, not for what each person can do for each other, but because of the pleasure they find in each other's company. This is how true relationships are built both in business and in life.
4) They are easy and charming communicators. Not one to get caught up in buzz words, jargon, showy rhetoric...they simply say what they mean. They are generally straightforward and candid. Two things that are a also a great foundation for business and life. The Blarney Stone is located in Ireland for a reason! They do seem to be blessed with the "gift of gab".
5) They are smart and resourceful. They are great at figuring out how to do big things with what they have, instead of always wanting more. Not a big tolerance for whining among the Irish.
6) They treasure their natural resources. It's a beautiful country and they place a great importance on conserving their homeland. It's a country full of Fifty Shades of Green.
7) They are small but mighty! Don't ever underestimate what can happen when the Irish get together to support an idea, an initiative, a policy or a party.
8) They place a great importance on family. All activities, decisions and plans are made with the health and happiness of the family in mind. And that carries over to their friends and their communities. They have each other's backs.
9) They don't let the weather or breaking global news ruin their day. Rain? OK...let's golf. Stock market news? OK...let's gather at the pub. Business opportunities? OK...let's eat and discuss it.
In spite of cheesy slogans, lucky charms, leprechauns, pots of gold and other Irish related symbols, we can all learn from our Irish friends. Be happy. Treasure your family, friends and land. Have a beer. Say what you mean. Be wise in all decisions. Have a beer. It's more fun to be together than apart. Don't let the weather dictate your day. Have a beer, wait...change it up. Have a whiskey. Work Hard Play Hard. Life is good.
Today, a salute to St. Patrick for his good deeds. And to our Irish friends....for the gifts, ingenuity and wisdom they brought to our country as immigrants and to the hospitality they show us when we visit their beautiful homeland.
A famous Irish blessing...
May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
And as a life-long fan of Notre Dame (I know, it's a Catholic thing...).....Go Fighting Irish.