August 27, 2007

Good day, team,

This week I am reminded of the importance of celebration and ceremony.  Summer is the time of year when the ceremony of marriage often takes place.  We mark this new beginning for the bride and groom by creating an event that sanctifies and celebrates their union. Many other types of ceremonies and celebrations mark some aspect of change in our lives.

We often think of change as just one thing, but it is, in fact, three things: an ending, a transition and a beginning. When things change, something has to end that we need to release. 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?

In this past week alone, a friend bought a new house, two other friends got married, and another friend’s father died. A few weeks ago, my husband began a new job. All of these 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. So creating ceremony for or celebration of these events seems appropriate and also very helpful to the people experiencing the greatest change.

We  can also 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 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 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. These events deserve some form of celebration 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? Maybe you could take someone who’s recently changed jobs out to lunch to celebrate the new venture.

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!


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