Episode: The Fine Art of Celebration
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Michael Hyatt: In the fall of 2015, Captain Scott Kelly opened the hatch of the International Space Station for his first space walk. It’s not as simple as it appears in the movies. Space walking is a grueling and dangerous undertaking in which the simple act of survival is cause for celebration. Traveling at 17,500 miles per hour 250 miles above the earth’s surface, safety is not something to be taken for granted. A thousand things could go wrong, and even the smallest mishap could prove fatal.
Megan Hyatt Miller: The space suit is both a life preserver and a potential hazard. These high-tech garments are equipped with life support and communication systems, but they’re also stiff, bulky, and hard to operate in the disorienting atmosphere of space. Microparticles and space debris pose a constant threat. Even the smallest puncture could cause sudden death. Astronauts zip around using jet packs in the movies, but real space walkers are entirely dependent on their tether. If it comes unhooked, they can drift helplessly into space with no chance of rescue.
Michael: In his book Endurance, Captain Kelly tells of a Russian astronaut who came untethered during a space walk. He only survived because he bumped into an antenna. That sent him tumbling back toward the space station, where he managed to grab a handrail. Preparation for Kelly’s first space walk began at 5:30 in the morning. He and his fellow flier, Kjell Lindgren, began breathing pure oxygen to ward off decompression sickness. Then another crew member helped them don their massive space suits and complete a safety checklist of hundreds of items.
Megan: After leaving the cramped and tiny air lock, the two emerged into brilliant sunlight. In zero atmosphere the heat is deadly, but the suits’ cooling system worked perfectly. Forty-five minutes later, the sun set and the temperature dropped to -270° F. Now their suits’ insulation and heating system kept them from freezing.
Nothing in space is easy. Kelly and Lindgren were tasked with making repairs to the exterior of the space station. The tools are tough to use at zero gravity, and the bulky suits and gloves impede every movement. Kelly said working in these conditions was like trying to pack your suitcase if it were nailed to the ceiling.
Michael: After six and a half hours on the outside, Kelly and Lindgren finished the job. They were totally exhausted, but their biggest challenge lay ahead. They still had to get back inside. With aching joints and weakened muscles, they had to maneuver back to the air lock, cram themselves into the tiny space, and wrestle the hatch back into place. They made it. After more than 11 hours in their suits and nearly 7 hours outside the vehicle, the exhausted astronauts could relax in the relative safety of the space station and celebrate their accomplishment.
Megan: Some events are simply too remarkable to pass without notice, and that night the entire crew of the International Space Station gathered for an informal celebration. As Kelly put it, successful space walks are one of the events, like holidays, birthdays, and crew arrivals and departures, that warrant special dinners.
Michael: So what’s your space walk? After all, you don’t have to be an astronaut to understand the value of celebrating a job well done, especially one that requires major effort and risk. Many of the achievements in our lives, even those that might seem mundane to others, call for special recognition. They’re perfect occasions for using what might be the most undervalued tool in a leader’s toolbox: the simple act of celebrating with your team.
Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. In this episode, we’re going to explore the importance of celebrating, especially with your team.
Megan: We’re going to talk about the who, what, when, where, why, and, most importantly, the how of celebration. We even have a special guest today to talk about how we’re doing this very soon in our own company.
Michael: I can’t wait, not only for the event but also to talk with Suzie (I’ll preview it that much) with what we’re going to talk to her about. Okay, let’s talk about the why of celebration. By my own admission, I’m not very good at this, and I think the more I understand why, the better I get at it. So I want you to articulate for our listeners why this is important.
Megan: Here’s why I think you’re maybe not that good at celebrating.
Michael: All right. I’m bracing myself.
Megan: Just buckle your seat belt. I think you are such an achiever you don’t want to slow down. It’s all about adding things to your list, being on to the next thing. You don’t want to slow down. You really don’t. You just want to get that juice that comes from the next project or the next idea, so it feels like almost a downer to have to slow down to celebrate, or at least I imagine that’s sort of what you think in your mind.
Michael: Well, yeah. Actually, in a celebration it’s hard for me to be present, because I’m thinking about the next thing on my to-do list I could actually be doing instead of wasting my time celebrating.
Megan: Right. True confessions. I think for most leaders, we can kind of go from one achievement to the next. We’re so futuristically focused that we check off a big accomplishment, if we even actually check it off, and we are so on to the next thing. Well, that may be how we’re wired, but it’s probably not how our teams are wired, and that can become exhausting after a while. It can give a big hit to morale, where your team feels unappreciated, unnoticed, kind of invisible, almost like a means to an end, and that does not serve you well in the long run.
Further, you really want to reinforce what got you to the achievement in the first place. If you don’t celebrate it, you don’t call it out, then it just kind of goes by unnoticed and you don’t ever make a point to affirm the things that were the accomplishments or the steps or behaviors, or whatever, that got you there. I think that’s really critically important.
Michael: What you don’t want to have happen is that the wins become sort of commonplace and there’s no energy around it.
Megan: Like it’s just expected.
Michael: Exactly. As I was reflecting on my own psyche… Why am I so reluctant to do this? I think a lot of it is being in a corporate environment where you’re constantly thinking about costs and time efficiency. Celebration takes time, time when you could be working, and it costs money, money you could be investing in projects and all the rest. I think we have to overcome that and begin to think of it as an investment in something that’s really, really important.
Megan: The other thing is it makes your life fun, and it makes your corporate culture fun, and that’s a huge part of job satisfaction for your team. If you don’t build in those moments of celebration and fun and joy it just becomes drudgery, and that’s not good for your retention either.
Michael: No, I agree. So let’s talk about the who of celebration. It’s the leader who celebrates the team. It’s important to get those two things clear. Who’s doing the celebration, and who’s being celebrated?
Megan: Absolutely. If you want to have a culture of celebration and appreciation and noticing people in your organization, you have to go first. Nobody is going to do this if you don’t get in front of it and give it your blessing. Even if you have to enlist somebody else for help, you have to be the one who initiates it. That’s part of your role as a leader.
Michael: I’ll just speak from experience, particularly as an Enneagram 3, the Achiever. It’s easy to make it all about myself, but the truth is I’m getting all these accolades all the time, whether it’s a best-selling book or people complimenting me in an email or on social media. But this is not about you. This is an opportunity for the leader to stop looking in the mirror and start looking at his team and reflecting back to them what they’ve done well and how they’ve accomplished amazing things too.
Megan: In some ways (this has just occurred to me), celebration is kind of like an act of humility.
Michael: It is.
Megan: It’s recognizing who had to come together to make the success possible and that you didn’t do it all by yourself. There’s no way you could have accomplished this big thing on your own, and to take a minute to realize it took a whole team and to turn the spotlight on them is very important.
Michael: Even before that it takes noticing, and that takes an act of humility, just to get outside of your own world and notice “Hey, there are real humans out here who are doing really important work who make all this possible.”
Megan: It’s kind of like this podcast right now. We have five people in this room besides the two of us. There’s no way we could do this podcast without all of these people, not to mention the ones who aren’t here, so that’s an important point.
Michael: Okay, now for the what of celebration. Major achievements, outstanding contributions, serendipitous moments… There’s plenty of opportunity for celebration if you just look for it. I want to talk just a little bit about the what. What are the kinds of things that are worth noting, worth celebrating?
Megan: Well, first of all, the obvious one is major achievements from the full team. This would be like achieving some kind of a goal around sales or the launch of a new product or a new division or something like that. Those are the big ones, and you really can’t afford to miss those. Probably of equal importance, if not more important, is noticing the contributions from individuals or small teams, the things that are easy to let go unnoticed or unappreciated.
For example, we did one of our activation workshops, our small coaching groups we do, and our content team did an amazing job pulling together that content and producing the event, and also our events team. I thought to myself when I got home, “Wow, I’m so grateful for all of the people who made this happen. It was an extraordinary event.”
It would be easy to think that thought and then never say anything about it, but in that moment I made a conscious decision to make a post to our team and thank them and try to acknowledge and celebrate what they had done, because those are the things that can fall through the cracks. If you miss too many of those as a leader, your people start to feel invisible.
Michael: Here’s a crazy thing about it. I have all of those same thoughts as you do. What you’re much better at is actually giving expression to it. I think it, but I don’t express it, and thinking it but not expressing it is like not thinking it at all. It doesn’t count.
Megan: Nobody knows what’s in your head.
Michael: It’s like the difference between your intentions and execution.
Megan: And if we’re not careful, what we do express are the critical things or the corrections or the negative comments, and we forget to celebrate the wins, and that feels really lopsided after a while.
Michael: It kind of goes back to the management advice about catching people doing stuff right. It’s easy to catch people doing stuff wrong, but to catch them doing stuff right… I say this all the time, and it’s really true in marriage, it’s really true in a company. The more of what you notice and affirm, you’re going to get more of that.
Megan: Yes. When I think about the kind of culture I want us to create in our company, I want it to be one where we are noticing in real time those serendipitous moments of achievement, big and small, in our team, and we say it out loud and celebrate it. There are different ways to celebrate, but the first step of that is just noticing.
Michael: Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here. My theory is that one of the reasons people have affairs is somebody outside the marriage starts noticing the person, and they’re not getting noticed and acknowledged inside the marriage, so their affection goes where they’re being acknowledged. I think the same thing is true in a company.
People will put up with it if you have great pay and reasonable benefits for a while, but that is not the biggest driver of why people stay in companies or why they’re satisfied in their jobs. A big thing is that they want to be noticed, they want to know their work matters, that they’re being valued for their contribution. As leaders, we can make a difference in that.
Megan: I’m thinking that people are wondering, “Well, how do you do this?” What are some examples of how you celebrate people in your organization? If this doesn’t come naturally to you… And if it doesn’t, you’re totally normal. That’s really, really common.
Michael: Thank you.
Megan: It’s something you can develop as a skill. It doesn’t have to be a natural ability you have, but I think it can start as simply as acknowledging people in writing. We use Slack as a messaging app we use internally or it could be email. You know, sending a message to someone privately. That could be one thing. It could be sending a note to someone at home, and that gets extra bonus points when you celebrate someone, because then they get to show it to their spouse or their roommates or whoever they live with, and that kind of biggie-sizes the impact of that written note. We love to do that.
Or you can try to be more intentional about doing it in front of other people. I love to celebrate people in front of others. That’s like the ultimate level. That could be in the context of a team dinner. We have an event coming up where the leaders of each team are going to acknowledge what their team members have contributed throughout the year. That’s huge, because not only do they hear you say it out loud in front of them and they’re being celebrated but their team members get to hear it, and in this case their spouses as well, because the spouses will be at these dinners.
You can also do events. This is where you bake in the fun. This is something both of us are not naturally gifted at, but we think a lot about how to be intentional about it. We have to plan the fun. That looks like saying after we accomplish this thing or we anticipate a goal being achieved, we’re going to schedule a bowling outing or a dinner out or we’re going to go do the escape game, just something to mark the occasion that is special and fun that gets people laughing and connecting. That’s where it starts to feel like a celebration. It could be a party. It could be all kinds of different things, but doing something out of the context of your normal routine or your office is big.
Michael: I love that you said if you’re not naturally good at this you’re normal, because I’m not. We’ve already talked about that, but the cool thing is you could delegate it to somebody who is. Thankfully, I have people on my team who are really good at this who enjoy doing it, who are gifted at it. As a leader, I kind of get the credit for creating the culture. All I really have to do is fund it. Somebody else will make it happen.
Megan: Exactly. It reminds me of a question we had (back to our activation workshops) last week. Somebody said, “How do you celebrate if you’re not good at it? Because I really stink at this.” The answer we gave was you have to schedule it. If you know that on such-and-such a day you’re going to achieve a goal, because there’s going to be a big promotion or something like that, you schedule a team dinner following up with that to celebrate or you schedule an outing or you schedule a trip or whatever it is. You can really help yourself by scheduling. Then you can delegate the planning to somebody else, but that way you don’t accidentally skip it.
Michael: Excellent. Nick, our producer, was telling us about this example from the military, where they had this sort of mandatory fun event that you didn’t have a choice over, but it was like forced celebration. They called it fundatory, fun plus mandatory. We’ve all been to those events where we’re required to go, and everybody collectively rolls their eyes. Nobody wants to go.
Megan: Like “team building.”
Michael: Yes, team building stuff. This kind of has as its foundation, if this is going to work, that the people in your company enjoy being together and it’s something that’s authentically fun. You can’t put like Michael Scott from The Office in charge of these events, because then it’s going to be fundatory.
Megan: That’s right. I’m still stuck on fundatory. It’s a totally fun word. I’m going to use that with my kids. I think you have to pick things that are truly fun, and if you don’t know what those are, if you’re a little bit of the Michael Scott yourself, then you might need to ask people in your organization. You can’t make this disguised as team building or, like, “We’re going to go do this fun ropes course that no one really wants to do that’s not actually fun.” It has to be legitimately fun, and, just like we talk about with our products… Everybody is laughing at ropes course. Is that not the worst thing, by the way? Does anybody like to do a ropes course?
Michael: Well, I kind of like it in retrospect. We did it with our mentoring group one year. After you get through it you kind of look back on it and go, “That was not too bad,” which I guess is not a ringing endorsement.
Megan: But that’s a great point of what I was just thinking. When I’m thinking about our secret sauce to celebrating well, I think there is an element of wow that we bake in. Just like with our products, we want our own people to have surprise, novelty, delight, something that’s unexpected in the celebration. Again, if this does not come naturally to you, you might need to pull in your marketing people, product design, whoever the people are on your team who are naturally good at this.
Michael: And people who will tell you the truth, people who will say, “No, that idea sucks.”
Megan: Right. But if you can bake in the wow and the surprise, which we always do… That’s a huge secret to this going well.
Michael: When should you celebrate?
Megan: The answer is soon…soon and often. You want to celebrate close to the event. If the whole point is to reinforce what has just happened so it will happen again, then you want to make them connected. You don’t want to have a big goal you accomplish, and then six months later you have some kind of team dinner or reward trip or outing or whatever it may be. You need to connect them, so soon is the best way to do it. I would say, just to define that, soon is probably within a month at the most. Better yet, a week to two weeks.
Michael: Yeah, because the closer proximity you can put the event you’re celebrating and the actual celebration, the more you’re going to reinforce it.
Megan: I just thought of another fun story about how Joel and I celebrate at home. What we often do is keep a bottle of champagne in our fridge. We’ve gotten a little bit out of the habit of this lately, which is a good reminder that we need to do it again. But just to anticipate that you will have something to celebrate at anytime, just serendipitously, and you have that bottle of champagne to pull out and celebrate together when something cool happens. It could be that you finished a project at work or the kids had some achievement at school or whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it’s just there, so immediately, to our point about timing, you can go ahead and celebrate right now.
Male: What is the difference between a reward and a celebration?
Michael: I think the thing about a reward is that it’s almost like an entitlement, like I earned this, whereas celebration is unexpected. People didn’t feel like they earned it, but it was just a surprise thing that was a wow that was kind of over the top.
Megan: I think you can reward someone without it being a celebration. It’s very possible to give somebody a bonus or a raise or whatever, and that could be non-celebratory. Celebration has a certain energy and emotion and excitement and festiveness around it that is what makes it a celebration, and it kind of puts everybody on equal footing too. There’s not like the power differential of a boss and an employee. We’re all in it together in this moment of celebrating.
Michael: Although I have seen rewards given in the context of a celebration. It makes them even more meaningful. Like I’m taking out somebody, I’m talking about how amazing they are, what they’ve done for the company, and, “Oh, by the way, we’re giving you this bonus check. We’re giving you this special trip. We’re giving you a raise,” whatever it is. It contextualizes in a way that makes it more meaningful.
Megan: But a celebration by definition is an experience, and a reward doesn’t have to be. Now we want to hear from our good friend, Rabbi Evan Moffic, about the importance of celebration.
Rabbi Evan Moffic: All we have in this world is time. We can make more money, we can get more things, but we can’t make more time. So how do we make time valuable? Through rituals, through celebrations, through shared experiences. When we celebrate, we take normal time and turn it into something wonderful. Celebrations make life meaningful. Celebrations make life enriching.
So here’s what we need to do. We need to consistently and persistently find times to celebrate. We celebrate birthdays. We should celebrate when we complete projects. We should celebrate life moments, like graduations, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries, christenings, confirmations. Things that matter we need to celebrate.
So how do we find time to celebrate? Well, part of it is we need to be consistent with it. In Judaism we have the Sabbath. Every Friday night, my family and I and often friends sit down and talk about what happened during the week. We simply celebrate being together. Sundays can be times of celebration when we celebrate in church or with family and friends. One key is consistency, finding it every week, every month.
The second is to plan them. We often think, “Oh, we should get together,” and then no one is in charge of doing something, so it never happens. Somebody should be in charge of creating celebrations. It could be in a company, in a church, in a community. Somebody should have that responsibility, and if nobody steps up to do it, we should. Find those moments to celebrate.
The third way to bring more celebration into our lives is to consistently look for them. Look for reasons to celebrate. It could be a graduation. It could be a first job. It could be a bar mitzvah, a wedding, an anniversary. Look for those causes to celebrate. If we do that, if we celebrate more, life becomes enriching. Time is our most precious gift. We can’t create more of it. We all have it. The way we make it meaningful is through celebrations. It will make us happier people, it will make us more effective workers, it will make us better friends, and we’ll feel much better and live a more enriching life.
Megan: Before we continue our conversation on how celebrating with your team fuels momentum, I want to pause for just a minute for you to talk to us about your new book.
Michael: I’m so excited about this. My new book, Your Best Year Ever, just came out, and the premise of it is this: We all want to live a life that matters and reach our full potential. Right? We often find ourselves, though, overwhelmed by the day-to-day. That’s pretty much everybody’s story. It’s hard to make progress on these big dreams and goals when you just can’t get the daily stuff done. So our biggest goals often get pushed to the back burner and sometimes forgotten.
I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way. You can focus on your goals and you can reach your potential, even in the midst of a busy life, if you do it in the right way, and that’s what I want to talk about for just a minute: my new book, Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. This system is powerful. It’s proven. There have been a lot of people who have gone through our goal-setting course, over 32,000 people at this point, but it’s also research-driven.
If you’re ready to make progress professionally, grow financially, improve your health, invest in your relationships, or whatever your goals are for the coming year, Your Best Year Ever teaches the framework you need for success. The best part? If you order the book before the end of January (listen to me; this is important), you’ll get hundreds of dollars worth of bonuses for free. You can find out more at yourbestyeareverbook.com. So don’t wait. Claim your copy and make 2018 your best year ever.
Megan: Great. I hope all of you are going to go check that out. Remember it’s yourbestyeareverbook.com. Now let’s dive back into our conversation.
Now we’ve come to the best part of the episode, which is talking about how to celebrate, because this is where a lot of people get hung up. To talk about this, we have brought in Suzie Barbour, who’s our senior director of operations, my right-hand wonder woman, as I often call her. She is responsible for all of our event production, among many other things. Suzie is awesome at celebrating, and she’s responsible for the upcoming event we have, our team trip we’re going to be taking up to a resort in East Tennessee next week, where we’re going to be celebrating our team for four days. This has been in the works for a long time.
Suzie Barbour: Yeah, it has. I’m ready.
Megan: She’s, like, sweating right now thinking about it.
Michael: “When do we get to that celebration part?”
Suzie: I’m excited. I’m really excited. It’s going to be amazing.
Megan: Me too. Tell us about how you think about celebrating in the context of an event like this. What’s going to make it wow for our people?
Suzie: That’s a great question. First of all, I just want to say that you guys are epic at this. For everybody who’s listening, these are the people you want to listen to when it comes to celebrating. I was just telling them the other day, I’m still blown away by what we do for our team, and some of my best memories in my entire life have been on our team trips the last few years.
I have taken two cruises with my husband without my kids with this company and had some incredible memories, and then we’re going away next week to a luxury mountain resort all together, and it’s going to be amazing. So thank you, guys, for celebrating us. I know our team feels celebrated, and I feel celebrated.
Michael: You’re so worth it.
Suzie: Thank you. I appreciate that. It’s amazing. When we’re talking about creating a wow experience, the very first thing we like to do is kind of cast the vision for “What do we want to feel at the end of our experience?” Whether it’s a dinner, whether it’s a party, whether it’s a trip, what do we want to feel at the very end of the experience? Sometimes we’ll even write that out.
Megan: Usually we do, actually.
Suzie: Yeah, we usually do. I’ll ask you guys to share your vision, answer a few questions about how that would feel, and that helps us start kind of, “Where are we going to create the wow, and where’s that experience going to come in?”
Michael: I know we don’t probably have that handy right here, but let’s just talk about how we want people to leave our annual team retreat this next week. One of the things I thought about… Everybody has been pushing so hard. I want them to feel rested. In other words, I don’t want to plan so much activity that everybody leaves exhausted.
Suzie: Absolutely. That’s one of the really cool things we’ve crafted in this trip. There’s a ton of white space intentionally, and we did that on our cruises as well. That’s really where a lot of the fun comes in. I think sometimes when people plan events they overplan. You’ll go to these retreats and things like that, and you’re doing ropes courses or…
Suzie: Every minute is planned. Every minute is scheduled. You don’t have time to form natural relationships or hang out with people you naturally connect with, and that’s not fun. When you leave a lot of white space and just a few really intentional, amazing times where people are together, then in the white space, that’s actually where memories are created, where people are having time to rejuvenate and all that. So we have a lot of intentional white space at our retreats.
Michael: Another emotion I want people to feel when they leave is gratitude. You know, grateful that they get to work with such amazing people, because they’ve had a chance to interact with them (it goes back to that white space thing), but also just grateful for the experience. What I do think we’re good at and what we intentionally try to be good at is creating experiences. We’re thinking through all of the details of that experience. What are the little details? We’ve said this on the show before. Oprah says, “Love is in the details.” What are the details that are going to make them feel gratitude that this was an awesome experience?
Suzie: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think starting with generosity usually will help inform gratitude. I love that you guys are so generous and really invest in these opportunities in our team from the very beginning. One of the ways we have blown people away is that we invite their spouses, and we completely cover the cost for their spouses to come on our trips, our retreats, and big dinners. Then we get into the details after we’re generous with the big things.
So not only are we providing this trip and this incredible opportunity; we are covering all of that for you and just want to honor you and spend time with you and connect. Then we get into the details. It might be ordering branded items and leaving them in their room. It might be a handwritten note from you guys when they arrive. It might be a toast at dinner. Just little surprises here and there, and that’s that love in the details.
Michael: That’s where I think the wow comes in. It’s always exceeding people’s expectations. The more you can articulate what the expectation is or understand that, then you can think, “Okay, how can we go above and beyond that and create surprise and delight?”
Megan: I just had a thought as we were talking about this. This event we’re about to do is kind of like the be-all, end-all of celebration. It’s a big financial investment for us. It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done by far. There are probably people listening who are thinking, “Well, that’s great for Michael Hyatt & Company because they can afford to do this, but I’m a solopreneur” or “I just have one or two employees” or “I’m the manager or director of a team. How do you do this on a budget?” So let’s talk about ways you bake in celebration that don’t actually require financial investment but are nevertheless very meaningful and that we’re even doing in this event itself.
Suzie: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things specifically we’re doing is we’ve allocated one night for our departments to go to dinner on their own in smaller groups, and at those dinners we’ve asked the leaders of the departments to be prepared to fully share in front of our team members and their spouses what each team member has contributed uniquely to the success of our previous year, and just really to honor their contribution and celebrate them in an intimate form and just share those words of gratitude.
Never underestimate the power of words. That’s something you’re really great at, Megan, and, Michael, you too. Just stopping and, whether it’s a quick message in Slack or whether it’s public, just sharing your heart and expressing gratitude on a regular basis and acknowledging the accomplishment, celebrating that accomplishment. I think that’s good. We’ve done also smaller things that are a smaller-level investment.
In our recent launches of Best Year Ever, we had an influx of new customers, and our customer experience team, while that’s a great problem to have, was hustling to keep up with all the tickets. They’re beast and they’re awesome at that, and we’re so grateful, but we knew they had worked a little more hours and put in a little more time than we typically like, so we celebrate them by sending them for manicures and pedicures for a quick day together or we’ll sometimes offer people to go grab a massage when we know they’ve worked hard. It’s kind of combining the reward and the celebration there, but there are ways to do it that’s less expensive than a big trip to the mountains.
Megan: It could just be like, “Hey, guys, that was an awesome meeting with that client, proposal to that client. We’re going to grab ice cream on the way back to the office.” It just feels serendipitous and spontaneous and fun and celebratory.
Suzie: Never underestimate the power of getting out of the office and taking your team to lunch or going to dinner.
Megan: Get out of the office.
Michael: Go to a movie.
Megan: Go to a movie. Have people over to your house for dinner or popcorn and milkshakes. It could be anything.
Michael: It doesn’t have to be expensive. What it has to be is intentional, and it’s better if it’s a surprise.
Megan: Yes, absolutely. Suzie, in your experience, how do leaders make sure that when they’re giving praise to their team, celebrating their team, that it’s not kind of like a subtle…
Michael: Humble bragging kind of thing.
Megan: Yeah, humble bragging kind of thing, where really what they’re doing is looking to ultimately bring that celebration and praise back to themselves, but they’re truly authentically focused on celebrating their team.
Suzie: The first thing I would say about that is people want to follow a great leader and a good leader. I would say you can’t get hung up on, “Am I doing too much? Am I being too generous with this?” Don’t get hung up on that. You’re never going to go wrong investing in your team, loving on them, celebrating them. So be generous and go all in, but definitely make the conversations not about you. That’s really important.
Talk about what the team has contributed collectively. Celebrate individual accomplishments, like we’ve talked about the dinner we’ve scheduled, just kind of bringing the teams together. Allow for small group celebration, and really make it about other people, about your team, and not so much about what they’ve enabled you to do but what all of you have done together.
Megan: Yes, that’s a great distinction.
Michael: One subtle way we do this at these bigger celebrations is in engineering the table conversations. It’s not just about the loudest leader who’s comfortable talking in public who dominates the table conversation, but we put those leaders in charge of asking questions so it doesn’t become about them. We observe this thing we talk about called the one conversation rule so that there’s one person talking at a time, and it’s usually the leader. His or her role is to ask the question to facilitate the conversation.
Megan: I think the truth is, as a leader, you really forfeit the right or the expectation that your team is going to affirm you. That needs to happen elsewhere. You’re probably getting that publicly or in other ways.
Michael: A therapist.
Megan: Your therapist maybe. That might be important. But that’s not the job of your team to make you feel good about your accomplishment. Your job as a leader is to celebrate the accomplishment of your team and draw the best out of them. It’s all about them. It’s just not about you. You have to get that need met elsewhere.
Michael: Amen to that.
Suzie: I would say, too, one of the things that contributes to this is, as a leader, you don’t ever want to come across as being not genuine in what you’re talking about. That’s something we’re also really intentional about. We’re going and looking and celebrating a whole previous year. Even in our most successful years, there are moments in a year that are hard, where we maybe didn’t hit a goal or we didn’t achieve what we wanted to.
Even if we’ve knocked it out of the park 99 percent, there are still things we could have done better. I think when you’re a team of high-achievers and your leadership is high-achievers and you’re so achievement-oriented, you’re so hard on yourself about those things you didn’t hit and the things you didn’t get right that you forget to celebrate all the rest.
Megan: That’s a really good point.
Suzie: One of the great things that comes from these trips is that if you’re internalizing and you have this narrative that this was a hard year because of one or two things, when you get together and start to celebrate everything we’ve accomplished together, you really start to see, “Wow, this was an incredible year,” and it sets you up in a place of gratitude and confidence for the coming year.
Megan: That’s a great point. Wow, this has been a great conversation today. I love that we’ve gotten to talk with Suzie in addition to just between the two of us about the who, what, when, where, why, and how, most importantly, of celebrating, and I hope we’ve inspired our listeners to put this into practice in their own companies or departments, their own lives. Dad, do you have any final thoughts today?
Michael: I was just thinking as you were talking that celebration really gives you an opportunity, as a team, to be even more committed to one another and more connected to one another and committed to the cause, committed to what you’re trying to create in the world, connected to your teammates, and, honestly, it makes work meaningful. Without this, it just becomes a way to provide for your family or whatever, but this is important work that all of the people listening are doing, that we’re doing, and celebration reinforces that.
Megan: As we close, I want to thank our sponsor LeaderBox. It provides automated personal development in a box. Check it out at leaderbox.com. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, you can get the show notes and a full transcript online at leadto.win.
Michael: Thanks again for joining us on Lead to Win. If you like the show, don’t keep it to yourself. Please tell your friends and colleagues about it, and also please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts.
Megan: This program is copyrighted by Michael Hyatt & Company. All rights reserved. Our producer is Nick Jaworski.
Michael: Our writers are Joel Miller, Mandi Rivieccio, Jeremy Lott, and Lawrence Wilson.
Megan: Our recording engineer is Mike Boyer.
Michael: Our production assistants are Mike Burns and Aleshia Curry.
Megan: Our intern is Winston.
Michael: Thanks for joining us. We look forward to seeing you on our next episode. Until then, lead to win.