Celebrate Success and Setbacks- Making 2015 Your B.E.S.T.

As the end of the year approaches, it’s always a good practice to review where you’ve been so that you can plan for where you are going.

Have you started planning how you will make 2015 optimal at work and in life?  My last two posts illustrated how Beliefs and Effort can lead to living an optimal life. This post’s focus is the S (Celebrating your Successes and Setbacks) of my B.E.S.T. principles

Celebrate Micro Wins

Many companies use recognition programs to celebrate the successes and best results for the year.  For example, my past employer celebrated its top performers with a first-class awards trip. Having this type of award served as a motivator, and it was certainly worth the celebration and fanfare. However, to move a culture from functional to optimal, it’s also worthy to celebrate the micro-wins, as well, because they make those major victories a possibility.    

In my last post, I shared a seminal moment when my physical therapist motivated me to get back on my bike for the first time post-accident. That labored and choppy ride proved to be a significant micro-win event that propelled me forward, strengthened my beliefs, and reinforced the value of connectivity.  It was the catalyst that turned my attention and training toward a local Rocket Ride, an aptly named ride that races through 15 towns near the New Jersey-New York border every Sunday.  

My ultimate goal for the Rocket Ride was to finish among the stronger riders and replicate my common practice before my accident. However, to get there, I had to slightly disassociate myself from my larger goal and set up opportunities for micro-wins, as they served as my building blocks. I created A, B, C possibilities that guaranteed micro-wins:

A Goal: Try to attack and breakaway at least twice during the ride;

B Goal: Concentrate on a smooth pedaling technique throughout the ride;

C Goal:  Learn something new that I could apply to my training. 

My A, B, Cs gave me a chance for some level of success on every ride, and enabled me to make progress toward my ultimate goal. As my recovery progressed and fitness improved, my A, B, Cs evolved and ultimately led me to reaching my larger goal. 

An article in the Harvard Business Review titled “The Power of Small Wins,” reveals the powerful connection between progress, emotions, catalysts, micro-wins, and the value of meaningful work. 

The research showed that 76 percent of employees made progress or had micro-wins during days when they had positive beliefs and emotions. And a number of participants felt more engaged at work when they saw the value of their successes.  

On the flip side, the research showed the negative consequences of showing up with less-than-positive beliefs and emotions. In fact, 67 percent of workplace setbacks happened on those bad days. However, I don’t believe this has to be the case. I content that bad days can become opportunities for learning, provided we learn to also celebrate setbacks at work.

Reasons to Celebrate Setbacks

In today’s business culture, it seems that failing is not an option. Even companies that state they are learning organizations send mixed messages: The only option is to get it done right the first time.

Clearly, most team members don’t intend to make a mistake or ruin a project. But the fact is, setbacks happen. And when they do, it’s important to find reasons to celebrate.

Here’s what I mean:

Politics < Learning

A few years ago I was involved in an unsuccessful launch of a major website campaign. Team members worked tirelessly to fix the problem, however, after the site became functional, the politics of who to throw under the bus began. Rather than spending energy on fully understanding what led to the setback, time and energy was wasted on the blame game. As a result, a similar hiccup happened again months latter. 

By celebrating the learning behind your setbacks, you no longer have to waste time and energy in “Notmyfaultville.” Celebration casts a “We are in this together,” energy that has cascading benefits. 

Mistakes Drive Innovation

If employees wait for the hammer to drop each time a mistake is made, then how much innovation risk will they be willing to take? Does fear help your bottom line? The short answer is No, it doesn’t. It actually is an anchor that reduces the possibility that you can outpace your competition. Check out James Dyson’s take on failure.

Hit the Pause Button

It today’s “Get it done yesterday,” world, setbacks provide necessary space to pause, reflect, and move forward thoughtfully. We all need to take a few moments to process so we can respond rather than react. Hitting the pause button allows us to process our learning so it can be applied to future projects. In many ways, celebrating setbacks as a learning process can reduce future mistakes.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you should be satisfied with only micro-wins and a life filled with setbacks. Rather, I’m recommending a choice that drives exceptional results in a more energetic manner. It’s possible to celebrate a “We are on the same team; we all win,” environment, and create a high-performance culture. The absence of celebration contributes to victim-loop and/or cross-functional conflict that reside in many work places.

It took a life threaten cycling accident for me to realize the power of Beliefs, Effort, and the value of celebrating Successes and Setbacks.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go to my extreme. Are you ready to realize limitless potential?

Contact me and together we’ll introduce success principles into your work place.