Coach’s Challenge for 4/25/11 “Ceremony and Celebration”

Good day, team.

Maybe it’s the upcoming marriage of the future King of England or the emerging buds on our lilac bushes, but this week, I am reminded of the importance of celebration, ceremony and new beginnings. Spring and summer are the time of year when the ceremony of marriage often takes place, and we most often experience new beginnings. We mark the new beginning for the bride and groom by creating an event that sanctifies and celebrates their union. Many other types of ceremonies mark some aspect of change in our lives, and this week’s challenge is about taking the time to acknowledge them.

We often think of change as just one thing, but it is, in fact, three things: an ending, a transition and a beginning. When something comes to end, we need to release it. Then there’s a period of transition that is often disorienting and scary because we’re not sure what we’re moving toward. Eventually, a new beginning occurs. This happens with the budding of the leaves on the trees; it happens with the rising of the sun each day; it happens to us as we move into new phases of our lives. How do we acknowledge these changes and, in particular, the events that significantly impact our lives?

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen so many powerful events: the uprisings in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the recent tornadoes in the Midwest — all of these events have created enormous changes in the way people live their lives. It’s easy to concentrate on the tragedies that occur in these times of change, but what about the new beginnings they create? Last evening, I watched a short film about a Japanese man who has rebuilt a small hut for his family to live in after losing everything in the tsunami. Having just finished the front door of his new home, he had his family join him inside. They gathered around him as he lit a candle and placed it in the middle of the floor and prayed to the Buddha. He expressed his gratitude for having a roof over his head and a family that was still alive and well. I was moved by his courage and appreciation in the midst of such a meager beginning.

Big life events force lots of readjustment. In each case, it is important to acknowledge the end of one way of life and embrace a new way. Celebrating or creating a ceremony for these events seems appropriate and also very helpful to the people experiencing the greatest change.

We also can celebrate our good fortune. Most companies have rewards and recognition programs that give teams the opportunity to celebrate their successes, often with a ceremony or some type of ritual to honor those who have gone above and beyond their normal work requirements to contribute significantly to the success of the business and their team. The importance of these events has been proven time after time in studies of team dynamics and motivation. People love to be recognized for doing a good job and taking the time to celebrate their success goes a long way toward continuing to motivate them.

Your challenge this week is to acknowledge the changes that have occurred in your life recently and to create some form of celebration or ceremony as you move from one part of the change to another. We often think of celebrating as involving many people, but these rituals can be quite small and intimate. Perhaps you can light a candle for someone who has recently died and take a few moments to contemplate his or her passing. Maybe you are close to a person who has had a baby or is sending a son or daughter off to college for the first time. Maybe you could take someone who’s recently changed jobs out to lunch to celebrate the new venture. These events deserve some form of acknowledgment that helps the people who are most affected move from what used to be to what is now. In your workplace, see if you have rightfully acknowledged your team members recently. Have you taken the time to celebrate their successes and to thank them publicly for doing such a good job?

Life often asks us to make a rite of passage. Our ability to do this is much more meaningful when we share in ceremony or celebration with others as we move toward a new beginning.

Have a great week!

Kathleen

Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

(503) 296-9249

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