A few years ago, I heard an interview with a future Hall of Fame basketball player. He was asked how often he thinks about his MVP awards and Finals championships, and he responded by saying that he doesn’t. “I will celebrate my accomplishments when I retire.”
At first, I applauded that response. Just keep your head down, do the work, and celebrate later. But as I thought more about it, I became conflicted. I disagreed with his attitude, but I realized I was guilty of doing the same thing. I am learning there is great joy and empowerment in celebrating what has been accomplished, even if it is for a short moment.
Some of the best examples of remembrance belong to the Israelites of the Old Testament, who often setup altars to mark significant events. One example is from the book of Joshua. After God parted the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross, they built an altar on the other side – 12 stones to represent the 12 tribes: “Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’”
My guess is these were large stones and required a lot of effort to erect. The Israelites took time to remember and celebrate through the actual work of creating the altar, while also establishing a symbol that would serve as a permanent reminder of what the Lord accomplished.
Why Should We Take Time to Remember?
In the busy life of a business, remembering and celebrating your accomplishments requires intentional, consistent effort. As with anything in business, if you don’t plan them into your schedule they won’t happen.
The practice of remembrance creates energy and makes an impact on our team in a few key ways:
- Remembering recognizes the accomplishment
- Remembering unites those involved
- Remembering provides confidence for future challenges
- Remembering reminds us that business and life is a journey
- Remembering proves that what we did once, we can do twice
Practice Remembering by Introducing Slow-Downs
Building “slow-downs” into our schedule has been revolutionary for the health of our company. When we implemented EOS as our business operating system and launched our meeting rhythms, we immediately found time to remember and celebrate.
I like to call these meetings “slow downs,” because that’s exactly what they do – they force you to take a minute to breathe, reflect, and celebrate. You catch your breath and leave rested and refreshed, ready for what’s next.
These slow-downs happen through 3 rhythms in the life of our company:
- Clarity break – these are self-meetings, off-site, for either 1 hour a week, 2 hours every other week, or 4 hours a quarter. The goal is to find a quiet space, bring a notepad, and ask yourself two simple, open-ended questions: what’s working and what’s not working?
- Quarterly conversation – these 1-on-1 meetings are between team members and their direct report and serve as an informal check-in. Each meeting includes a time to celebrate the work accomplished over the last quarter.
- Quarterly State of the Company – this is a once a quarter, full-team meeting where we look at where we’ve been (the last quarter), where we are (current quarter), and where we’re going (1 year, 3 year, and 10 year target). Each of our senior team members have quarterly rocks, or goals, and they have a chance to share with the full team the progress they have made.
During a recent Quarterly State of the Company, we talked about the year 2020. We reviewed the pivots, the transitions from thriving to surviving to thriving again, and the grind required to get us to the other side. We remembered the uncertainty and anxiety that eventually led to hope and resilience. We celebrated our individual and collective efforts, and we all agreed that 2020 will serve as a reminder that we are stronger than we think and no matter what’s ahead, we will both survive and thrive through working as a united team.
When we reflect on what we’ve achieved together we recognize the accomplishment, are further united as a team, receive confidence for future challenges, are reminded that business is a journey, and recognize that what we’ve done once we can do twice.
If you haven’t built times of remembrance into the daily rhythm of your business, start by taking some time away from the office with a pad and paper, alone and free of distraction, and begin reflecting on all you’ve accomplished. My hope is you’ll leave refreshed and energized, and ready to expand this practice to your full team!