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Several years ago, I was working a large event for a successful Oakland-based conglomerate. I was impressed with the past performance of their shares, so when I got a chance, I asked one of their managers what he thought it was that led to their success. His answer surprised me. He said there were three main things:

  1. They push their decisions down the chain of command.

  2. They create a culture where people treat the money like it is their own.

  3. They Celebrate often!

There is tremendous wisdom in what he said. The first point is about trust; the second about ownership; and the third is about recognizing success and creating community. Since this piece is about celebration, I will focus on that for the rest of the post.

Celebration Creates a Happy Environment

The human brain is naturally biased toward the negative and tends to discount the positive. This was useful as a survival mechanism in prehistoric times. Today it does more to create stress, anxiety, and depression in situations where there is little real threat to safety or survival. Celebration pulls us back toward the positive by focusing on our successes and forward progress.

We Need to Celebrate the Small Wins

Because major goals take a long time to achieve, it is important to celebrate the small wins along the way, much like the fans cheering a two-point shot in a basketball game that takes a hundred or more points to win. Every small success is part of the progression toward the larger goal. That recognition reminds us that we are moving forward, which help us to keep momentum and our belief in the enterprise's ultimate success.

Celebration Gives Us a Break

From time to time we need to catch our breath, pause at the plateau, and look back at how far we have come. This restores our energy, strengthens our community, and gives us a chance to survey the landscape before we start climbing again. It creates a "what next" moment and sets us up for the next segment of the journey.

Celebration is much like gratitude in the way it intentionally turns our focus toward the positive. People and organizations that regularly celebrate tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful, which itself is a cause for celebration.


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