Lead Together Website  - the hidden power of rituals and rhythms.jpg

by: Susan Basterfield

In many ways, we humans orient around time and space through rituals and rhythms. The story of us is steeped in them – celebrating the change of season, a significant event, our birthday, the school year. Rituals are powerful and connecting – they may be occasions for reflection, thanksgiving, grief or celebration.  And again, as is true with so many elements of ‘work’ most organizations completely ignore or dismiss the potential power of ritual within the workplace.  Unless, of course, your annual performance review counts as a ritual 😉

The easiest ritual to incorporate into our work life is the check-in – taking a moment to do a round before the meeting starts to get some additional ‘warm data’ into the room.  With or without a ‘prompt’ settling into a new configuration to listen, learn, or work on something with your teammates, this practice gives everyone the opportunity to ‘be here now’.  

A great thing about check in is you can do it anytime, anywhere.  Sometimes, we check in on zoom by simply changing our name to a word that describes how we are arriving.  Or what weather condition we are feeling like.  I often joke that after we no longer need to meet virtually, that we’ll all walk into the room with a neon hologram above our heads with that warm data about how we are.  OK, perhaps that’s a little dystopian!

At my company, Greaterthan, we’ve had to make some significant adjustments to our ritual cadence over the last 18 months.  In Lead Together, we share this intention:

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I giggle a little because the team has grown from 6 to nearly 20, and circumstances have quashed our digital nomadism.  However, we are truly global, with team members in 12 countries. The last time we were (almost) all physically together was February 2020, New Zealand summer.  We don’t know when it will be possible to be in person together again, so we have had to experiment to try to find new rituals of coherence building and connection.  

Technology has helped – and I’m grateful for the creativity of some team members who have architected some wonderful experiences.  Two spring to mind – one was a gratitude circle where we took spacious time to shower one another with thanks – we were able to organize our zoom windows to have a candle burning in the middle.  We loved it so much that we’ve brought it into some of our closing circles for our courses.  

The other ritual I loved is reminiscent of something we do at Enspiral.  All Enspiral members are asked, every 6 months, if they are still ‘i’.  The  Enspiral ritual is green thumbs in Loomio.  But at Greaterthan, our version of stepping in for the next season looked like this: 

 

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We’d all written our commitments on a post-it in Mural, and chose an icon for ourselves.  As we read out our commitment, we symbolically  moved the icon into the circle. I’m the octopus.

Now, more than ever, it’s worth the effort to make intentional space for connection and ritual.  We have to be ever vigilant in creating opportunities for coherence in our physical separation, and rituals help. Focus on fun, playfulness, lighthearted connection, and amplifying joy when it emerges. 

 

 

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