Most of times when you and I hear other people’s success stories, they are glamorized as unbelievable achievements by ordinary people in the face of great odds. The stories do not shine the light on the individual’s struggles and the boredom of their daily efforts; with the result that we experience the story as an event, rather than a process. Somewhere in our minds, we start believing that success is something that people arrive at suddenly.
Anyone who has ever led a team of people towards a goal probably knows that people consistently underestimate the amount of work a goal requires. Additionally, when they are actually making progress towards their goal, most people cannot see it. This is because their minds have been conditioned to see only the destination and not the journey. They do not count making progress as success, since only the event, and not the process, features in their definition of success. The result is that people become discouraged if they do not arrive at the destination quickly enough, even if they are making progress.
This is why it is important when leading a team to make a tradition of celebrating small wins. Creating a routine for celebrating little steps is necessary for these reasons:
- Motivation: The pursuit of any goal derives its energy from our emotions; seeing progress makes the goal feel smaller, while our ability feels bigger
- Belief: Looking back to see where we were, compared to where have arrived, solidifies belief in our ability to finish and reach the goal.
- Momentum: This enables us to keep energy levels up and sustain the rate of work.
- Confidence: Seeing progress helps us to mark our personal growth. We realize that we are not who we used to be, appreciate the person we are becoming and believe even more in our capability.
- Build Good Habits: Marking progress helps us understand that whatever we are doing is working. This reinforces our positive habits.
A corollary of celebrating small wins is the habit of gratitude. To the mind of most people, there is no place for gratitude in the work place. Even if we have a habit of expressing gratitude in our personal lives, it seems out of place within a business setting. But this is not true; organizations are starting to realize how much good they could derive from saying thank you more often to the people who make their successes possible. Everyone feels a need to be thanked for what they do and that need does not diminish when people come to work. There are many reasons to say thanks but here are just a few:
- Gratitude spells appreciation. Appreciated workers are more engaged. They take fewer days off work and are more tuned in.
- Gratitude makes others feel significant because it reveals our need for them. People who feel needed view their job as meaningful and give more to it.
- Gratitude builds relationships: feeling needed by others strengthens a team.
- Expressing gratitude to deserving people boosts feelings of self-efficacy; they feel capable and socially valued.
To put it all together; when leaders make a habit of telling people how much they have achieved and appreciating them for it, they help those people release hidden resources they were not aware and achieve even more.
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