Since the beginning, humans have created reoccurring ceremonies and traditions that help us recall important moments in our history, signify significant rites of passage, and celebrate things which unite and bond us.
Since I was a child, I have always loved traditions. Growing up in the Episcopal faith, I loved the seasons of the church calendar marked by different alter linen colors and special hymns reserved for specific times. I always felt anchored somehow, knowing where we were in the “story” and what was to come.
When I was applying to colleges in my senior year of high school, I jumped for joy when the letter came from Texas A&M because of all the campuses I had visited, the strong traditions at this University were the biggest attraction to me.
Every year growing up, my mother volunteered in the women’s group at church where collectively they sewed and painted Christmas ornaments for months and baked breads and sweets to be sold at our annual church bizarre raising money for the underserved in our community. I remember tagging along when I could just to sit and paint some wooden paint-by-number star or angel and listen to them laugh, gossip, and share together. Now, every year when I unpack my holiday ornaments, I smile at the little felt mouse dressed up like a nun or a priest or the badly painted wooden angel I somehow managed to save all these years. No matter how many beautiful and shiny ornaments I collect, my tree never seems complete without those little memories tucked in the branches right alongside the ones made by my boys growing up, and now added to by grandchildren, all more precious than any purchased in a store.
Like many of you, my childhood holiday traditions included stringing popcorn, listening to my mother’s favorite Glen Campbell Christmas album, and placing the baby Jesus in the nativity’s manager on Christmas Eve. When I raised my children, we added to these our own unique traditions. Special foods, special plates, special songs… just like the alter linens, they anchor us in the story of our family’s circle, history, and love.
I’ve noticed lately that the value of anchoring people with traditions is not only reserved for our personal lives but is also incredibly valuable in our professional lives as well. Many companies that I had the privilege of working with recently have allowed me to witness and even participate in their company traditions.
Take the team at Next Level Practice led by Gary Kadi: At their workshops, the team comes together each morning at 6:30 a.m. and gathers in a circle where they have a tradition of “clear and create.” Each person publicly “clears” any nagging thoughts which are weighing them down or for which they wish to release from their internal focus. They then “create” and publicly announce what they mean to contribute to this particular group and the kind of experience they commit to creating for those in attendance. Immediately afterward, Gary finds a private space and telephones his 90-year-old Italian grandmother, puts her on speakerphone, and closes his eyes (with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen on a human face) as she leads a prayer with him and praises God (as only a 90-year-old Italian grandmother can do) for his work and for the lives he will touch and make better on that day. This has become their professional tradition.
Another company, Becauz, a high-level leadership transformation company for which I do some contract training, arranges “office hours” the last Tuesday of each month for all of their trainers from around the globe to come together to hear news from their CEO and COO and all check in together. Before they sign off, CEO Ian McKelvie, asks each person to share, “What is exciting you the most about the work that we are all doing out there in the world?” The answers anchor the call, the work, and all the competing agendas of trainers scattered on several continents.
This year, I plan to create some business traditions of my own and leverage the value of the shared history, team bonding, and personal anchors they create for a team … especially teams in service to others. I encourage you to contemplate and create your own unique company traditions to implement in 2021 and beyond… and to share those with the community here at LionSpeak.
This is the last Monday Morning Stretch for 2020. Where has the year gone? We’ve accomplished a lot this year and weathered some big storms. I won’t have accomplished all I set out to do but I’m publically “clearing” that with you now and setting my intentions to “create” some new things in 2021… a loving, fun, and supportive new home with my husband, new traditions with our big beautiful blended family, and many, many breakthroughs and transformations out there in the world of healthcare teams, dental practices, business owners, management professionals, trainers, and speakers.
From all of us at LionSpeak, here’s to “clearing” whatever is on your mind, weighing you down, and holding you back so that you can also “create” your very best year yet!
“Tradition lives because young people come along who catch its romance and add new glories to it.”
~ Michael Novak