How You Can Leverage the Power Of Celebration

— March 2, 2017


I love NBA basketball, and I’ve been known to express my passion for the game and our hometown team when there are moments worth celebrating. Case in point:


My hometown, Cleveland, showed up in incredible fashion to support the Cavs NBA championship, and I was personally moved by the outpouring of enthusiasm. Last week I caught the Timberwolves vs. Cavs game in Minneapolis and there were plenty of moments that proved celebration-worthy, even though I knew the outcome of the game had no significant bearing on the quality of my life whatsoever. It’s purely entertainment.

We have become inclined to celebrate the success of our favorite teams with more enthusiasm than we celebrate our own progress, milestones, achievements and each other. Imagine if I could bring that same level of enthusiasm, energy, passion and purpose captured in the photo above to my own work everyday. The truth is: I can. And it can make a major impact where it really matters.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always the best at celebrating the wins. I’m more inclined to immediately shift my focus to what’s next. But I’m actively working on this. The more I can stop to acknowledge progress and capture moments of joy along the journey, the more connected my team becomes in pursuit of success. It’s also way more fun!

Here are just a few reasons your own celebration is important, and ways celebration can serve as a catalyst for growth.

Celebration Creates Connection

As a new regional sales manager, I wanted to generate a little more excitement across the office around our growth objectives. So one weekend I installed a captain’s bell in our common area. On Monday morning I announced that every time we won a new account, we would ring the bell and all join in the common area to announce and “celebrate” our new customer. No doubt, most people were probably thinking what you’re thinking. Stupid idea. Interruption. Inconvenient. Nobody was a fan of the new ritual at first.

We had all forgotten how to celebrate, but that changed quickly when a few of our leaders bought in, let go and embraced the celebration. I can still remember the place exploding for some of our big wins. I fondly recall my all-time favorite bell ring and I will never forget the time our CEO rang the bell so hard it came off the wall!

The bell was probably the best $ 50 I ever spent. The bell represented growth, success, teamwork and victory. It fast became a tradition that helped us create little moments of connection and align toward shared outcomes. Traditions matter, and those moments provided a pause for me to recognize hard work and reinforce the commitment required to win.

Celebration Builds Momentum

Everyone wants to feel confident about the future and connected to something larger than themselves. Celebration reinforces that you’re on the right track and can help bring more certainty to uncertain situations. I participate in over 100 meetings annually. I’ve seen countless approaches to the sales kick-off, annual incentive trip, leadership off-site and change management meeting. Every one of these opportunities can be infused with the power of celebration to elevate the emotional commitment to go back out and do something epic together. Nothing great happens without momentum.

How do you start meetings? Is problem identification first? Or do you always take time to recognize what is going right? What else could you bring to the table that would elevate the energy, enthusiasm and emotional commitment necessary to capitalize on momentum? You can create momentum where it doesn’t even exist!

Celebration Creates the Power of Anticipation

Spontaneous celebration is great, but planned celebration is even better. For one, it ensures the celebration actually happens! What gets scheduled gets done.

Another huge benefit of pre-planning your celebrations is the intrinsic value of anticipation. I’m planning a reunion/celebration in Dublin this July with a few close friends around a U2 concert (yes, we are intentionally honoring the legends in their homeland). This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime and we are all stoked about the journey! The building anticipation will generate tremendous excitement leading up to the actual event. Sure, the concert will come and go but the feelings, connection, camaraderie and shared experience can create memories that last a lifetime.

Progress Counts

It’s important to celebrate the small wins, too. Progress counts. I work with plenty of companies that are leading a turnaround or transformation initiative. One of my most important pieces of advice to those leaders: Start meetings with massive recognition and celebration around what is going right. Tell the stories of success where they do exist and watch the pockets of resistance weaken all around you. Every meeting you have is an opportunity to accelerate change, create meaningful connections and celebrate progress!.

In my new collaboration with Seth Mattison, we celebrated our first big event together in style with a weekend in Dallas that included a suite to the Cowboys vs. Ravens game. We commemorated our program launch with the friends and business partners who have provided incredible support to us on this journey. We’re delivering another event together this week and have plans to acknowledge that outcome with a big celebration dinner post-event in downtown Chicago. I believe we will both look back on these moments years from now with the fondest memories of starting something great. Celebration helps solidify that belief!

Are you starting something new with the hope of something great? Celebrate!

Make It Fun

Whether it’s spontaneous or planned, recognizing a small win or a big one, above all, celebrating should be fun! Have you forgotten how to celebrate?

I was working recently with Jostens, a company whose mission is: Capture. Celebrate. Inspire. They are designing the world series rings for the Chicago Cubs. They are a celebration company! During their annual sales kick-off meeting, we actually did a series of celebration exercises to acknowledge the important role that celebration plays in commemorating achievement and connecting people to one another. It didn’t take long for them to shake the building together in acknowledgment of where they’ve been and where they’re going together. Check it out:

Making a commitment together and crossing the finish line victoriously warrants some epic celebration. But why wait? Being on the journey is reason enough to celebrate.

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Author: Ryan Estis

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