Why Celebration is So Important in Leadership
This weekend life hit me like a ton of bricks. For the past three months, I’ve been running at mega speeds, all while seeing the holidays as my “light at the end of the tunnel.” I’d tell myself: Emily, just get to November. You’ll be okay. Work hard, play hard. You got this girl.
And then November came and life didn’t slow down.
One Saturday, I left brunch with a friend discouraged. So many great things had occurred over the past few months, yet I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything significant, anything of value. I felt depleted, and that the addition of all my doing, doing, doing came to the sum total of a tired body, doubting heart, and struggling mind, questioning whether at my core, I’m enough.
After consuming the millionth Hallmark Christmas movie and devouring a package of Oreos, I grabbed my journal and started writing, dumping everything that had happened – every stray thought and loose emotion onto the crisp, white pages. And it was there that the fog began to lift.
In my marathon of “great things”, I never paused to refuel, re-tie my shoe laces, or check my route. I just kept running, running, running.
And when I got to the finish line, a new race started, but I was so depleted from my previous race that I started my new marathon on empty.
My dad once wisely told me, “Emily, life’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I’m learning just how true that statement is.
We’re going to have busy seasons, full plates, maxed out schedules, professional and personal victories, and losses (or what I like to call “learnings”) along the way. Friends, it’s called life. How we journey through the marathon of life is what helps us either go the distance, or burns us out at a mile marker too soon.
I used to think I didn’t have time to stop and celebrate my wins; however, I’m learning that I don’t have time to not celebrate the areas where I’m winning. By celebrating my wins—whether big or small—I’m essentially grabbing a sip of water or Gatorade on my marathon course, replenishing the nutrients I’m expending while I run.
For me, a “win” can come in the form of knocking out a tough work project; signing on a new client; stepping off the stage from a speaking engagement; getting my email inbox to zero (the struggle is real, ya’ll); discovering something about myself and how God wired me that I didn’t know before; and sometimes it’s sitting across from another woman on her own becoming journey, a cup of coffee in hand, seeing her take ownership of her story for the first time. A “win” is a mile marker reminding me of who I am – why I do what I do.
Your wins will look different than mine because your race is different than mine. We’re all on this grand journey of becoming who God made us to be, and each of our journeys are unique. To identify your own “wins”, think through the moments you feel alive, like you accomplished something epic, an internal light bulb that went off, or you connected with someone in a deep, new way. And remember: a win doesn’t have to be the flashiest billboard in Times Square. Sometimes the most significant wins are extremely personal, internal moments that no other human ever knows about. And that’s okay. Winning is showing up and owning who God made you to be in the everyday, ordinary moments…and that’s worth celebrating.
Once you identify a win, celebrate it! There are no right or wrong ways to celebrate the wins in your story, but to share a few ideas, here are some ways I’m learning to celebrate my wins:
Write them down.
The changing point in my story, in recognizing I needed to grab some Gatorade in my marathon, was in simply writing down what had happened. In writing my happenings down, I remembered cool wins I had forgotten and reflected on learnings I’m thankful I didn’t forget.
Treat yo’ self.
Sometimes – or actually, a lot of times – we just need to take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we’re really doing okay. When significant moments happen, celebrate them with your favorite cup of coffee, an extra scoop of ice cream, or something that you’ve had on your wish list for a while.
Ask someone else.
I’ve found that at times, it’s tough to spot my wins…especially when I’m knee-deep in the middle of deadlines, projects…well, life. Ask those close to you where you’re winning and celebrate what they share.
Say thank you.
The best way to celebrate wins? Thank the One who has gifted you with the air in your lungs in the first place. Thank God for each next step and for guiding you along the way.
Take time to stop and smell the roses every once in a while. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint…and we all need fuel to go the distance.