Most of us have heard over and over how incorporating a gratitude practice into your life and work will change things in drastic ways. The philosophy is that being grateful for what we have will attract more of the same. Although I agree with this practice, I also think, a gratitude practice on its own misses part of the equation. For me, gratitude really goes hand in hand with celebration. It can be easier to be grateful for things that have come to us, but that leaves out the things that we are doing to create the lives/businesses that we want.
A few years ago I attended a conference in NYC and the woman leading it talked about how we need to learn to celebrate ourselves. She was speaking specifically to women, who, she said, many times have a hard time accepting compliments let alone truly celebrating their accomplishments. And while I agree that this can be true for women, I remember leaving the conference thinking how true it can also be for people in the workplace. It is rare for someone in an office to celebrate themselves as opposed to waiting for a “Good Job” to come from their boss or manager.
After that conference, I created a practice with my daughter, Emma, where every morning we say something we are grateful for, something we are proud of ourselves for, and an intention for our day. We also have an unsaid rule that there is no judgment on what we choose to share. Some days I am celebrating that I am not still in bed with anxiety. Some days I am celebrating that I completed a huge project. It’s all worth celebrating. This practice has changed both of our lives. It helps us remember that we do things every day that are worth celebrating. It helps us keep focused on the things we have that we are grateful for. And it helps us get clear on that one thing or attitude we want to instill in our day. Last week Emma said she was grateful for her level of contentment (as a teenager in particular). Part of me believes that there is a direct correlation between her increased level of contentment with our life and this practice (that we have been doing almost every day for 3 years).
My family is also really good at celebrations. Emma and I were just discussing how our birthdays are such a big deal in our world. My mom was, and still is, a superstar at being sure that for that one day (or few days…) we are truly celebrated for the amazing humans that we are. And, now, understanding how gratitude changes your life, I can look back and see that because she was so serious about celebrating the day we were born, I always felt like she was grateful that we were her children. I’ve made it a point to share the same gratitude and celebration with Emma.
This month I started reading Brene Brown’s latest book, Dare to Lead. She talks about how she implemented a practice in her office where they come together regularly to be sure everyone has a space to celebrate their accomplishments, ask the questions they need answers to, and more. Brene discusses how managers shy away from giving too much celebration because they worry their employees will lose the motivation to continue doing a good job. This is that old-school way of thinking - that fear/punishment are stronger motivators than praise. She argues (and I concur) that the reality is that when people are praised for the good work they are doing, they will do more and more good work because we all (as humans) long for approval.
My mind immediately went back to our morning practice. I started thinking about the change in my attitude and Emma’s. And then wondered - what would happen if you instituted a practice like this in your company?
i remember when I worked in the restaurant industry and we had our shift meetings before we got started. The MOD discussed the specials for the day, new information from corporate, and sales goals. Imagine if there was also time and space to quickly go around the room and have everyone share one thing that they are celebrating (about themselves) from their most recent shift! People would leave the meeting excited and on the high of a “job well done” and be conscious of what they would like to celebrate in the next meeting as they are working their shift.
I also know, as entrepreneurs, it is easy to get caught up in the “I haven’t met my Big Goals yet” mentality and avoid celebrating until we hit large milestones. And yet, since I started this practice with Emma, I have celebrated some of the most seemingly unimportant steps in my business. This has left me feeling so proud of all that I have accomplished as opposed to overwhelmed by all that is left to do. And, it turns out, pride is just as big of a motivator as praise!
Today is my birthday, and I am spending the week celebrating. I’ve set up breakfast dates with some of my favorite people. I’m having a party on Wednesday night at my favorite restaurant (Tacos anyone?) and local brewery. I’m leaning into the fact that I run my own business and didn’t schedule any deadlines or project completions this week. And, for the first time ever, I took some time to sit down and think about everything I’ve done since my last birthday that I am super proud of. I’m letting those emotions of pride and joy fill me and fuel me to get the next group of tasks done.
I encourage you to incorporate a celebration practice into your work. If you have a business with employees, consider creating space for your team to acknowledge their own accomplishments. Go out of your way to tell people when you are happy with their work or you know they put in a little extra effort. Maybe even create some sort of employee recognition practice where employees can thank each other and nominate teammates for a job well done. Do you have regular staff meetings? If so, be sure there is time for your team to share what they are proud of in their work. Lead by example by sharing your own wins.
If you are a solo-entrepreneur, like me, I encourage you to build into your day/week the time to stop and celebrate what you have accomplished. Give yourself the “job well done” speech and use that pride to fuel your next moves. Remind yourself that you are capable and dedicated and you are killing it!
Remember, as Dr. Suess taught us all as children:
Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is more youer than you.
And that is definitely worth celebrating!