Name Your Success

A group I’m in starts its meetings with each person naming an accomplishment—personal or professional—since the last meeting. Sometimes there’s a big and obvious item to share. At other times, group members struggle to identify a victory. There’s no rule about how “big” a success must be. There is a rule about reporting with gusto. No diminishment of self is allowed. No “well, it’s not much but…” or “I wish I had something more substantial to report…” or “my success isn’t as big a yours….”

This simple practice has had profound effect on the group:

  • We recognize that powerful results get created by even small steps taken over time. When people report a big success, we know the small steps that comprised it.
  • We acknowledge, in the moment, that seemingly small steps can take huge effort.
  • We appreciate the challenges each of us overcomes to create our individual and collective successes.
  • By beginning meetings with appreciation and celebration, we set a tone of creativity and openness that endures for the rest of the meeting.
  • The genuine cheering for each other lets each of us know we are seen and celebrated.
  • We develop an ability to appreciate ourselves. Rather than wait for the big bang, we have learned to cheer and attend to the small steps that happen along the way and that lead to eventual success.
  • We know how easy it is to overlook our good work and instead train ourselves to see.
  • We are more open to the difficult parts of the meeting, the problem-solving and personally challenging moments because we’ve established a base of competence. We can do tough work because we know of ourselves and each other that we’ve demonstrated capability already.
  • We challenge each other with the full faith in the other person’s capacity, because we’ve seen it.

I often hear managers wish for higher morale, an atmosphere of mutual support and seeing positive possibilities. I suggest this simple practice. Ask people to inventory their successes, no matter how small. Encourage celebration of the smallest and the largest.

  • Name a success you’ve had in the last week.
  • Notice what you “qualified” as a success
    • Did it have to be “big” enough?
    • Were you looking for the final victory or were interim steps OK?
    • Was it easy or difficult?
  • What story are you telling yourself about your success?