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Reflect for Success - Then Celebrate

Aug 08, 2022

"There is just no time!!"

This was the response I received from a group of leaders I recently worked with. We are building out their team and individual success pathways and accountability frameworks to help them increase capacity and decrease distraction. The question I asked them:

"When do you schedule time to reflect on what worked, what did not work, and what to try next?"

The irony here is thick. By reflecting on a regular basis, you gain insight into not just what works but why it worked. When a failure happens, it is a unique opportunity to learn and innovate by understanding the what and why the failure happened.

The next in our series of trends in high performing teams is teams that take time to reflect and celebrate success.

When you do not take the time to reflect, then you don't learn, innovate, realign. This leads to a cycle of diminishing returns, working faster and harder, but not smarter. Ever feel like you are living in the movie "Ground Hog Day?" You may be!


So many teams and organizations I see have a huge inertia challenge. They do not see the need to change, to innovate, to move forward from a place of comfort and safety. But that comfort and safety is an illusion. It can change rapidly. If the last few years have taught us anything, dramatic change can happen with little or no warning. If we are not focused on improving and learning every day, then we are already falling behind. Here are some thoughts:

  • A fix is not a long term solution
  • Every distraction creates a loss of energy, focus, and time, and these are cumulative
  • The higher the stress levels, the less people can access their higher cognitive functions (problem solving, critical thinking, strategic thinking...)
  • Old models of thinking and planning and legacy processes may be holding you back

 Too Busy

Anytime you hear the phrase, "too busy", it should be a warning sign. This is the mantra of many individuals, teams, and organizations. If you are too busy to stop and reflect on what has and is happening, then you may be headed for an...adjustment. I work with business owners and leaders who are constantly focused on the past. Here is what I tell them, "The rear view mirror is much smaller than the windshield. If you are always looking behind you, you could run into something ahead of you that you did not see coming."

Wait you say? Isn't reflection looking backward? In a way, yes. However, reflection done right happens almost in real time, or as close to the events as possible. This provides some very specific benefits:

  • Evaluate the success or failure
  • Identify the learning
  • Lock in the learning
  • Adjust course or actions as necessary
  • Repeat the cycle


Scheduled Reflection

If you and your team are too busy to find time to reflect, then something has gone wrong. I spent time recently with a group of leaders who are trying to find time to reflect with their teams but just can't seem to make this happen. I ask them a simple question, "What is the value of reflection?" After a slow start, they came up with an entire list of things that would bring value if they made time to connect and reflect a priority. This leadership team decided right then that this would become a part of their schedule every week...setting time aside, even protecting that time, to have these sessions with their teams.


"Why should we celebrate when people do what is expected of them?!" This from the mouth of an owner I was sitting with. My response, "Do you say anything when mistakes are made?" Owner, "Of course I do, mistakes cost us money, they are waste, people need to understand how important their mistakes are!" At this point I wonder if I am going to be able to say anything that will make a difference.

Unfortunately, this attitude is more common than you might think. I can't wait to show him the new research data on teams, the Team Vitality Report 2022 from Six Seconds:

This came out of a 15 year study with a highly validated team assessment, Team Vital Signs.

Celebration is so much more than just having a party, or recognizing a job well done. It enhances:

  • Trust
  • Belonging
  • Satisfaction
  • Retention
  • Commitment
  • Engagement
  • Learning...yes, learning - a focus on what went right and how that happened.

Here is a quote from that study:

CELEBRATION in this context means investing time to acknowledge the efforts that have gone into the work thus far, both learning from failures and appreciating successes. This, in turn, creates the energy and insight that fuels the relaunch of the next round of challenges...There’s also a fear of complacency, driven by the misconception that celebrating success will make people stop working hard. In reality, the opposite is true: Celebrating successes predicts a team’s ability to create value for the organization moving forward.
Team Vitality Report 2022, Six Seconds

 Notice something important in that statement. Celebration creates the energy and insight to fuel the next efforts. It is a cycle. If you take celebration out of the cycle, energy and insight are lost. Fears of people "slowing down" if there is too much celebration are unfounded, in fact, the opposite is true. It makes sense, people want to celebrate wins and success. Why would they not keep moving forward to enjoy that again and again?

Reflection and Celebration Linked

Reflection and celebration are linked. In today's increasingly complex workplace, we need to be intentional about protecting time for both of these. Why? Because they are the generators of insight, innovation, energy, and learning. We could all use more of those!

Copyright © 2022 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]

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