Wednesday 17 May 2017

Celebrations/Ceremonies/Rituals we never get tired off

We human beings never get tired of being genuinely appreciated.

Our dog Molly (and Blake, Karma, Bodie and Rebel before her) reminds me daily of the awesome power of the number one food for the soul - feeling appreciated. Whether I’ve been gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours doesn’t matter to Molly. She greets me in the same enthusiastic way that says loudly “I’m so glad you’re back.”

“The deepest human desire is the craving to be appreciated.”
William James

What celebrations/ceremonies/rituals could you adopt/begin in your workplace that inspires/reminds/persuades people that they are genuinely appreciated?

In 2012 on the recommendation of my colleague Maria Carlton who is a best selling author and publisher, I purchased a book by Derek Mills The 10 Second Philosophy®.  Derek is known as The Standards Guy®

Derek’s book is about having standards instead of goals.  It is a very refreshing read and I have added his book to my recommended reading list.

For many years my focus has been about following rituals, what Derek calls standards.  I know that if I follow the right processes for me then the outcomes take care of themselves.

Is your focus on outcomes or processes, goals or standards, results or rituals?

Some people live in the past, stuck usually with intentions, feelings and a mindset about what has happened.  We can’t change the past.  We can view what has happened with different feelings and new eyes.  We can see failure as a learning opportunity for example rather than as a negative.

Some people live in the future, stuck usually with intentions, feelings and a mindset about what might happen.  We can’t guarantee the future.  We can vision what is possible and take one step at a time towards possibility.

The most successful and happy people who I know live in the present.  We can change the present.  We can control what happens within the sphere of what is in our control, our intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions.  Sure it is important to have direction, goals, targets, to begin with the end in mind.  The trick though is to focus on the now.  This is what processes, standards or rituals can do for us.

So again I ask

What celebrations/ceremonies/rituals could you adopt/begin in your workplace that inspires/reminds/persuades people that they are genuinely appreciated?

Here are three suggestions

1) Send stars, never black holes

In the early 90’s I taught Peter Marshman’s Communication Magic program to hundreds of people. A key to the success of the program was teaching people to send stars never back holes in both sending and receiving messages. 

Typically stars are messages that promote high self esteem of receivers and the 
likelihood of personal best performance.

Examples are enthusiastic greetings, smiles, recognition of effort and achievements, compliments, being included, putting ourselves out for others, asking someone else for advice, showing genuine interest.

Typically black holes are messages that mean a likely drop in self esteem and the corresponding drop in personal performance. 

Examples are not saying hello or greeting people as though they barely exist, not saying thank you or not recognising other peopleʼs efforts, claiming the credit for someone elseʼs work, ignoring or excluding people, putting people down, criticism as opposed to constructive critique or feedforward, thinking our way is the only way and demonstrating this in our behaviour, having a closed mind.

People must be empowered to deal with black holing or other inappropriate behaviour by responding to poor sending with the statement “I think thatʼs a black hole”

Conversely it is strongly encouraged that star behaviour be complimented with words such as “thanks for the star”, Thank You. You are a star”. 

2) Have regular appreciation and accountability conversations

The Double A Technique below is an example.

Ask: How are things going?

When you get a positive response:
Ask: How does that make you feel? 
(be quiet and pay attention) 
Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate. 
Then ask: Any other areas I can help you with? 
(be quiet and pay attention)

When you get a negative response
Ask: What happened? (be quiet and pay attention) 
Then Ask: What do you need to do to get back on track? 
(be quiet and pay attention) 
Then Ask: Is there anything I can do to help you? 
(be quiet and pay attention) 
Finally, Ask: Anything else? 
(be quiet and pay attention)

In this video I demonstrate the above technique 

A key to the success of all conversations is having tools that focus the conversation

Performance Possibility Plans and Role Clarity Statements are two such tools. There’s resources about these two here.

3) Ensure eight conversations are integral to daily life and work.

At the above link I reference The Appreciative Leader handbook. In the handbook I detail 8 conversations that enable celebration, ceremony, and rituals. Below is a snapshot.


Imagine the leader who announces to her team/community/constituents:

"I've heard myself say to myself lately that I haven't really connected with you on X.

I believe I can explain my intentions, feelings, and thoughts much better.

I'd really appreciate your help."

Do you feel/think most people would respond positively to such statements? I reckon most people would.


And so the door is now open for feedforward which is of far greater value than feedback.

Feedforward is a great concept from Marshall Goldsmith.

Feedforward is suggestions from others that provide insight and foresight for you to change your behaviour.

Peer Review

Feedforward helps to make peer review conversations more candid and convivial.

Peer review is the daily conversations you have with your peers that appreciate remarkable work and help everyone to be accountable.

Having focusing tools is paramount. Role Clarity Statements and individual Performance Possibility Plans (PPP's) previously referenced are essential.

After Action Reviews

These are structured conversations that appreciate what was remarkable, great, good, bad, and ugly about a specific action; imagine what can be next time; create/update PPPs in ways that reflect agreed personal and business behaviour changes, and stay, stop, start actions.

After Action Reviews are powerful when you and your colleagues are in the habit of sharing your self-talk, and are engaging in feedback, feedforward, and peer review.

Weekly Check-ins

Weekly Check-ins ritualise conversations.

These are short, sharp, weekly meetings online and/or in person where individuals and/or teams review what's happened and what's next, and agree on actions and accountability for the coming week.

Weekly Check-ins are also great for continuous celebration of what's going well and to explore what can still be better.

Mentor Moments

Appreciative Leaders have mentors and are being mentors for others and so Mentor Moments are integral to conversations.

Mentor Moments are informal and unstructured as well as formal and structured conversations.

If you aren't yet enjoying the high value of Mentor Moments as both a mentor and a mentee then get started today if not sooner.


The vast majority of successful people I know are part of one or more master-mind groups (people mutually committed to each others’ success who meet regularly).

Each of the 8 conversations that really count explored above are critical to successful master-mind groups.

The most successful teams are master-mind groups. Is yours?


I’ve left feedback till last because I believe it’s the least most important conversation.

"We've listened to your feedback" say the politicians, business, and other leaders. How well you've listened will be determined by your actions.

Feedback is about the past. Often it’s biased opinion based on self-interest. In my case I'm from the Alan Weiss school - I ignore feedback I didn't ask for!

Your turn!

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

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