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Why Celebrating Success Today Boosts Performance Tomorrow

Cutting cake at office party

During my years working at HP, Manuel Diaz was VP of Sales for the Computer Systems Division. During a training event, he spoke to the worldwide leadership team about the need for more celebration.

He had a point.

Our fiscal year ended on October 31. We knew that after exceeding our annual goals, it was right back to the grindstone the next day. “Hero to Zero,” as we called it in Sales. We would eventually honor those with outstanding performance the following January at the annual Achievers Club event. But until then, we had lots of planning and reorganizing to handle for the year ahead. Celebrations were not on our to-do list for November 1st.

Manuel politely disagreed with that approach. He believed it was essential to celebrate our successes and take time to relish in the joy of doing good work and achieving our goals. Not only later, but now. In the moment. According to Manuel, stopping to truly experience that sense of satisfaction creates the perfect mindset for pushing to the next level of success. In other words, celebrating success today improves performance tomorrow.

While that might have initially seemed counterintuitive, we quickly realized that Manuel was right. Momentarily setting aside the new year’s planning to celebrate our wins was an investment of time that actually paid off—in higher morale, better teamwork, and increased productivity. We saw the results first-hand.

Even today, Manuel’s words are still clearly etched in my mind: make time for celebrating success. Now when one of my clients tells me about reaching a new development milestone or achieving a business goal, I always ask: how will you celebrate?

More often than not, that question is met with the same response our HP team gave to Manuel many years ago. “But we have planning to do!” Somewhere along the way, our addiction to achievement and productivity has snuffed out our capacity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. As a culture, we need to change that.

As you think about increasing your celebration quota, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Celebrate success along the way

Whether you are acknowledging a large or small milestone, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. (In proportion, of course. Not every accomplishment warrants a cruise to the Bahamas.) For a team success, you might celebrate with a nice meal or a party. Special events and activities with the group are also excellent ideas — perhaps drive miniature race cars together or go bowling. If you are celebrating individual success, treat yourself to a cool, high-tech gadget you’ve been wanting. Or maybe a well-deserved day off. Whatever you decide to do, make it a timely “reward.” Don’t wait.

Include others

Even if you are honored with an award or recognized personally for an achievement, it’s important to remember that we rarely reach levels of exceptional performance without the assistance of others. When it’s time to celebrate your success, be sure to include the people who supported you in reaching your goal. Who helped you to get there? Who made contributions or sacrifices so that you could excel? Make your celebration an inclusive process that reflects plenty of gratitude to those around you.

For instance, recognize your colleagues and direct reports who likely provided a foundation for your achievements. Thank your mentors and advocates, letting them know that their encouragement and advice played a key role in your success. And naturally, family members may have taken on extra responsibilities while you worked long hours or traveled for extended periods. Be sure to tell them how much that support means to you.

Give a token of appreciation

As part of your celebration, consider doing something special to show your gratitude for those people who worked hard behind the scenes on your behalf. A memento or token of appreciation is always a nice touch. Use your imagination here, and consider team options beyond the usual trophies or plaques. Think of something that might be meaningful for the entire group. Whatever you choose, it will serve as a symbolic reminder of effective collaboration and positive results.

When we intentionally take time to celebrate our success and recognize those who helped us achieve it, we are marking key moments in time with positive, lasting memories and paving the way for even greater teamwork and results in the future. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Do you take time to celebrate your successes? I’d love to know your approach.

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