Using Ritual to Lead

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I’ve been thinking about routine and ritual a lot. The older I get the more I seem to appreciate how deeply we humans crave them and how important they are for those of us who lead teams, families, communities. I wonder about your rituals.

We began the 8:00 AM Mass yesterday with Jesus Christ is Risen Today. I could stroll back in time through every church in which I’ve spent an Easter Sunday – all the way back to St. Kevin’s in Inkster, Michigan – and feel the memory of that song, written in the 1700’s.  Easter (not unlike Passover Seder’s that friends have welcomed us into) is such an Alleluia time, a great vocal surge of communal thanks and joy.  Typically, I love change, diversity, innovation, spontaneity, etc., yet there is an inexpressible joy in the ritual of Easter Mass, epitomized in that song.

I feel a similar comfort and connection about my Saturday breakfast with Jennifer at Diggery Inn.  (Perhaps I’ve already received the very special Award I wrote about last week, when the owners of Diggery renamed it the Daniel Omelet after I had ordered it every Saturday for over a year.)  At breakfast this week Jen and I spent the first 10 minutes giving voice to what each was most grateful for. We told stories. Little stories, but big to us.  Stories like the Big Stories – of the Passover and the Resurrection.

I have made it a ritual to begin my weekly meetings with my Teaching Assistants by our taking turns sharing gratitude – for whatever is on our hearts. Likewise, John, my co-author and I do the same on our weekly 7:00 AM editing calls.  The gratitude stories always make Jennifer, Karla and Joseph and Tori, and John come alive for me.  The work has its ends and will claim our time, for it is why each of these pairs and groups come together. But after sharing gratitude, the work objectives sit in a context of community . . . with people. The people are ends in themselves now. Rich. Heart-filled. Complex. Adn Worthy.

The rituals are at the same time routines, fixed, and repeated. And, they are new and allow people to re-enliven them.  How might you institute, or re-institute, or re-purpose rituals to build the human communities that together can do great work?

Lead with your best self.