Celebrate and Celebrate in Absolute

I was speaking with the founders of a company that has done very well and grown fairly rapidly over the last few years. They, like many organizations, are going through the challenges of scale and growth and trying to overcome them meaningfully. As the discussion progressed, I mentioned that seeing them grow from the day they started to where they were today, has been wonderful, especially to see their achievements in a highly competitive space. They had grown in numbers, opened offices across the country and globally and created a niche for themselves.  I also added that while they were hungry to achieve more, they should also be proud of what they had achieved in such a short time.

One of the founders turned around and said – “That is an interesting point, Vivek. We seem to be consistently pushing each other, pushing our teams, arguing and discussing day in and day out on the things that are not happening. We have never paused, looked back and said ‘well done’ or celebrated our successes. We seem so caught up with the want for more, that we have forgotten to praise our teams and create a culture of celebration. While we are quick to reprimand, we seldom celebrate. I think we don’t give ourselves enough credit”.

To me, this is not surprising at all. Most of us wait to celebrate or praise till the final result is achieved. But the little steps towards progress are important too. Yes, we all feel happy when we see progress. But on the way to achieving our final goal, it is the incremental progress that pushes people and that is the power of progress. It is not just about celebrating targets or quantitative goals, it is also about celebrating habits, values, behaviour and qualities.

Let us also talk about the ‘how’ of celebration for a moment. How many times have we said ‘if…’ and ‘but…’ and ‘also’…? I have had people say, ‘great job… but you could have done better’, or ‘the team did a phenomenal job… however, if we had worked a bit harder we could do better’…

I think, if you are celebrating, do it without constraint, with context and in absolute.

In Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnsons book – ‘The One-Minute Manager’, the second secret is ‘Praising’. They say praise immediately, be specific and stop for a moment of silence to let them ‘feel’ how good you feel.

As Indian, we are all proud of Dipa Karmarkar. She has achieved what no one has been able to. Over the last few days a lot has been written about her achievement along with the state of the Indian sport system, hope of her winning the medal in 2020, sympathy on not winning the medal etc. While all is true and needs to be done, in appreciation let us celebrate her success and her spirit alone. While she is magnanimous to apologize, the question to ask is, should she?

Like Simon Sinek says, “Leaders don’t complain about what is not working. Leaders celebrate what is working and work to amplify it….”