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Celebrations. What do YOU and YOUR ORGANIZATION celebrate?

It’s December … and the holiday season … for many kinds of faiths. I was humbled by the reaction and feedback to last month’s gratefulness article.  Thank you.

Celebrations and gratefulness are pretty intertwined.  In my mind, celebrations are an expression of gratefulness.  I think of celebrations from both an individual and organizational perspective. December is a good time to “take stock”. 

ME: Reflection is especially relevant to me given that my birthday is in the beginning of the month. At the end of the year I use a life balance exercise called the “Horizontal Maslow” to assess where I’m at. It identifies the 14 different life areas and how much time and attention we’re giving to each. 

Physical (Fitness)Home
FinancialIntellectual (Learning)
NuclearService (Giving)
14 Different Life Areas

The result is a simple, visual bar graph where you can determine what you are pleased with and where you might want to make changes.  Some of these life areas are interconnected and the visual helps you see those relationships.

I love to see expressions of JOY. Sometimes it’s an individual with that smile and laugh that touches your heart.  Sometimes it’s the spontaneous…like a group of football players celebrating after a touchdown. (Thank goodness the NFL learned a bit about psychology and changed that rule). Or a soccer player after scoring a goal. What’s common about these is that they are REAL!!

How do I celebrate?  Well, I get to choose the family event on both my birthday and Father’s Day. I always try to make it something outdoors.  What am I celebrating? … life, health, family, and nature. In June, it’s easy. We’ve done Great Falls (both sides), a houseboat on Lake Anna (broke down and we needed to get rescued.  Humbling!), and tubing on the Shenandoah River. In December, it’s not so easy; requires more creativity.  We’ve done Montpelier (James Madison’s estate), the City of Frederick, MD   (a charming surprise), and Kashe-Katuwe Tent Rocks N.P. (very special; look it up) and Santa Fe, NM.

But “taking stock” is also true for organizations

ORGANIZATIONS:…to see what they’ve accomplished in the year, reviewing the journey to get there (often missed), and identifying where they stand.  I say that in a holistic way – progress on their strategic plan, employees feeling valued, improvements in their culture and reputation, impact they’ve had on society and the environment, etc.

The “what” and “how” of celebrations are important.  Most of us have probably experienced both ends of the spectrum on this.  Did we know what we were celebrating and why?  Was it genuine?  Did the celebrations reflect both the achievements and the individuals?  Did WE feel a part of it?  From what  I’ve experienced, an organization’s end of year celebration somewhat reflects what they measure and value.  Do we celebrate those that exemplify and model our core values?   How about those that “lead from the middle”?  (I have a great book I can steer you to on that).

January begins a new year. Hopefully we’ve already done a strategic planning “refresh” this fall. Our measures and celebrations provide us a mirror to think about … future breakthrough opportunities, weaknesses we want to address, and things we are doing well that we want “more of” and “better of”.

Note to leaders: Put some thought into what you’re celebrating and why … when you design the event.

Model that intent with your behavior when you lead that celebration.  People are watching.

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