Celebrate Good Times
It’s a classic tune at weddings that can generate plenty of eye rolling for
those who find it too cutesy…yet Kool and the Gang had a great message with
their 1970’s song title “Celebrate Good Times”.
Celebrating feels good! It lifts us up and acknowledges what we’ve done. It
enables us to savour a moment of pride in our own efforts and those of our team
mates. Celebrating benchmarks a job well done.
Yet, in working with many highly-driven and successful leaders, I notice that
celebrating is a step in the development process that is all too readily
overlooked. In the rush to meet goals, it’s easy for many people (me included!)
to lose sight of what has already been accomplished.
It’s akin to racing to the top of the proverbial mountain and once there, not
stopping to enjoy the view before planning the next expedition.
We can become so focused on the next quarter or year-end that we forget to pay
attention to what we have achieved already. Celebrating along the way motivates
us to continue working towards larger goals.
What big achievements are you celebrating?
What small wins are actually huge in helping you to move forward?
Recently, I was coaching Maggie*, a high-potential manager accountable for
leading a large project team. It’s a complex project and her team had faced
considerable internal resistance to their mandate. Suddenly, however; as a
result of a presentation to key stakeholders, Maggie told me that the
contribution of their project was being lauded well-beyond her own business
unit. Various senior influencers were stepping in to offer support and show keen
interest. She rushed on to talk about how the team needs to move to the next
phase of the project.
When I asked Maggie the simple question, “And how are you and your team
celebrating this win?” she paused for a long time. In her silence, she
recognized that she hadn’t fully acknowledged what had transpired. In fact,
because her team was spread-out geographically, several of the members weren’t
even aware of what had shifted. The team hadn’t skipped a beat in working on
their deliverables. Maggie now saw that their momentum would be exponential if
she were to take a few moments to share the impact of the presentation and how
their hard work in laying the foundation had paid-off.
Celebrating achievements has been shown to have numerous benefits:
- reduces stress and reenergizes people
- motivates people to continue toward larger goals
- creates an opportunity to strengthen relationships
- allows people to step back and see the big picture
- fosters work/life balance
At the beginning of our coaching sessions, I
encourage all of my clients to recount their WINS since our last discussion, or
at a minimum to take written stock of these WINS ahead of our coaching time. In
doing so, they develop the muscle of noticing what’s working well and being able
to acknowledge these personal achievements.
Acknowledgement and celebration are ways of providing feedback to others and
perhaps even more importantly—to ourselves.
How are you rushing past celebration?
What would it mean for you to slow down and acknowledge your accomplishments?
I recently had the opportunity to work with a team in the “forming” stage of
development. We talked about the insights they’ve gained from other successful
teams in which they had been involved. One participant wisely pointed out that
in their post-audit “lessons learned” discussion for a major system
installation, they had overlooked the opportunity to celebrate key milestones
during the life of the project. While the overall project was a success, they
might have moved faster and with more positive energy had they acknowledged what
was working well during the long, ten-month process. By the end of the project
some resentment had built-up and the team members felt taken for granted by the
organization, in spite of having worked together well.
Based on her input, the new team promptly committed to establishing milestones
for celebration in their project plan. In the Code of Conduct they crafted, they
also committed to have spontaneous celebrations for the small wins along the
What must you celebrate now?
How will you celebrate reaching a future goal you have established?
I’d love to hear about your plans for Celebrations—large and small- this season.
Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . It’s a great way to create
accountability to yourself for acknowledgement and to share your wins with
someone who is very interested in your success and learning.
* Not her real name
Sue Edwards is a Leadership and Business coach who specializes in working
with leaders in transition to new roles and new organizations. To download a
free copy of Sue’s report: “Top Ten Success Factors (and Seven Deadly Sins) for
Leaders Transitioning into Organizations”, click here