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5 Powerful Components of Celebrating that Changes the World
October 6, 2014
My daughter at 4 years old was finding it impossible to remove a lid from a jar of pickles. It was stuck. It was a stubborn pickle jar. Darn pickle juice.
She had been at it for about a minute and was getting more and more dejected. She asked me to help her. "You're doing great. Don't quit on it. It will give." She tried a few more times, and said, "Daaaaa-aaaaad" (please help me).
I leaned over the counter and I said, "I believe you can do this. You're gonna surprise yourself." And I told her to tap on the lid to help depressurize it. She went at it again halfheartedly maybe thinking I'll come rescue her if she goes through the motions. I didn't. I said " C'mon now, show that pickle jar who's he's dealing with here. You're awesome."
She went at it. Again. Again..."ERRRAWWWWW DAAADDDDEEEEEEE". She was starting to cry . I said gently in almost a whisper "You can do it." She yelled back at me "NO I CAN'T!" I said "Honey, you can stop, but if you quit now you'll never know the magic that's waiting for you." She looked at me funny. Magic? I said yes, there's magic waiting for you if you don't give up."
After 4 more Herculean efforts she was about done, her face red, and stone cold with tears in her eyes, furious with me. I said "I know you can do it." I really thought she could. She's actually quite strong.
But as she was yelling her angry final crescendo, "NO I CAN'T!" and relaxed essentially giving up, she gave one more conciliatory twist for dramatic effect, and the lid moved. She had it off in her hand.
The look of Surprise, Awe and Joy that enveloped her face was almost breathtaking. I'll never forget it. She gasped pure elation. She was laughing, and roaring "Yeah!" and her arms went up and victory dance around the kitchen table. She found the magic.
Thankfully, she did it and that moment saved me from being the father who makes his daughter go through that kind of grief over a pickle lid. But I know how awesome and vital it is to overcome what can seem like an impossible situation. And now she did. And we celebrated together.
What a beautiful celebration it was. So joyful. Even euphoric. Over a pickle jar. But that's just it. A celebration does not need to be huge to be worthy. We downplay so many mini triumphs during the day. But this wasn't small for her. This pickle jar became a metaphor. This pickle jar changed her belief in what was possible or not. Next time she comes across an "impossible" challenge she has this "magic" to draw from.
To this day 4 years later she remembers that moment sticking with it taking a risk that she can do something even if she's not sure she can. At 8 years old she's one of the youngest members of a rock climbing team, and the feats that she has achieved and continues to do astonish me.
I've had the privilege of helping people celebrate most of my adult life. I write, prepare, produce, direct and lead celebrations and special events for people, organizations and companies. 23 years of celebrating with people has taught me volumes about the power of appreciation and how much we crave it, revel in it and how great its impact can be.
At a wedding or a Bar Mitzvah there's a celebration of accomplishment, love, family and friends. It's a recognition of an important day: Two people in millions find each other. They decide to love, support and navigate challenges through their lifetime ...a mother and father have navigated their own lives and emotions, finances and their own identities, parenting successfully a boy or girl for 13 years. There's triumph in both of these social celebrations.
Triumph - I define as overcoming an obstacle or series of obstacles to a successful outcome. The tougher the obstacle or longer the duration time with it (real or imagined), the greater the feeling of triumph.
Celebrating a Triumph has Great Value to offer.
The 5 Powerful Components in Celebrations:
1. The Roar - the YEAH I DID IT or WE DID IT moment. It's an electric moment of recognition of what your effort did. It's an awareness of just how powerful and lucid you can be and what you can accomplish. This moment is very empowering to draw from in the present and future moments when facing obstacles and adversities or just raising your energy when needed.
2. Surprise - Whether you believed you would overcome the challenge or not, there's the actual moment where it becomes a reality. (Not all triumphs are surprising but great triumphs usually have a moment of pop to them). This real time moment of recognition produces anywhere from a momentary flicker to a volcanic eruption of surprise. Surprise can be a powerful positive force. Imagine if you were never surprised. How flat, dull and uninspiring daily life would be. Surprise, like awe and wonder, can be a huge payoff to your faith, creativity, evolution and growth. Even if you are convinced you know an outcome or that your efforts would fail, if you leave even a small space to surprise yourself, you leave room for unexpected magic to happen.
3. Release The end of exertion, the end of tension and struggle, the end of stress from undertaking the obstacle. It's over and you won. This is the exhalation. In these moments with nothing left to prove people can see their own greatness and potential. When you release, creativity and resources you may not know you had can show up and activate, even flourish. The magic behind the magic.
4. Freedom Sustained release and letting go - being free to be the authentic original you. In the throes of a celebration the critical judge departs and the essential you is allowed to take full stage. The moment feeds you knowledge that for the time being you are free, full and powerful. There's no need to return to this battle. When free we gain something vital: Relief, a new perspective and a confidence that you can be who and what you want to be.
And finally and the most vital one: Appreciation.
In my world of special events Appreciation is more than an emotion. It's an energy that surges like water through the cracks into every place it touches empowering people to the greatest part of themselves.
Plus it contains all the benefits of every other triumphant component: The Roar, Surprise, Release, Freedom and it also offers and circulates LOVE.
Appreciation has been studied a lot by universities and companies like Towers Watson. The results were not surprising. People want to matter. They want to FEEL that they matter and what they do and who they are means something. Productivity by employees that feel appreciated is 43% greater than those that do not feel important to the company.
Mike Robbins, a leading proponent of the power of appreciation, reports in research he found, The simple receiving of a compliment with just a thank you – without arguing, downplaying, or giving it back in kind ("no thank you") – RAISES the serotonin levels in BOTH the receiver AND the giver.
How awesome is that!?
Every time you genuinely compliment someone, showing appreciation, and they receive it you change the bio-chemical workings of BOTH of you to become happier and healthier, activating a more fully resourceful you.
If that weren't already great...two people engaging in appreciation energetically expands the appreciation environment nearby.
What that means is now that two people are appreciative that energy radiates out to the immediate vicinity.
Imagine laughing gas leaked out of the corner of a room and two people start laughing, the next people catch it and they begin laughing until it spreads through a roomful of people. Not a care in the room anymore, everyone's just laughing.
Appreciation spreads into and through people like this. I can say based on my own experience with thousands of events it work exactly like that.
We coach and direct our staff and our artists with this knowledge: To Create Meaningful Engagement. When a staff of technicians, directors and artists who love and appreciate each other, what they do and the people they do it for... seek to create meaningful engagement: that's a game changer for special events and corporate events.
Like my daughter with the pickle jar, people recognize that "magic" is taking place and it feels incredible. You just want to live there.
This is how each of us can change our world and the world. One small step, one meaningful appreciative engagement at a time. Mike Robbins advocates making a practice of it even putting it on your calendar as a reminder to do it everyday:
11:00am - Compliment someone.
Each person can make time and concerted effort as part of the general daily activities to appreciate someone and not just their performance. Husbands can appreciate wives and wives their husbands...again not just what they did, but who they are.
Management with employees...successful companies inherently know this and their employee retention and productivity shows that.
Schools can appreciate their students beyond their GPAs and test results. Students appreciate their teachers. Parents appreciate their kids. Robbins says, performance and execution is necessary to evaluate and coach, but appreciation is about human value and worth, and there's never a bad time to help someone remember their appreciated.
If you can keep this in mind: there's an invisible field that emanates when appreciation is being felt that betters you and all those around you. You're not just doing it for them, you're bettering both of you.
This is how group celebrations, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, company parties, any corporate gathering can not only be an incredible good time, but have the impact and potential to make a difference in the lives of those attending, and the people producing it. If it's genuinely produced it's got the 5 super powers flowing out to be received.
Here's to your celebrations and the people in your life that you make better and make you better. Take time to celebrate your triumphs. Big or small. You will all benefit.