This is a more personal post, as I spent the last few days away from my office. For this community of leaders, many of whom are parents, I hope you prioritize finding time to do the same. It’s revitalizing!
I’ve just returned from taking some time off to celebrate a BIG anniversary with my husband. After 20 years together, we wanted to recognize each other and celebrate the life that we’ve created together. We rented a tiny Getaway home in Shenandoah National Park, ate s’mores, hiked Old Rag (one of the most popular and most strenuous hikes in the mid-Atlantic region, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains), swung in a hammock and rested.
If I’m being honest, this may be one of the first times in my life I really celebrated. And really rested.
Hiking up the mountain full of switchbacks and scrambles, I spent time focusing not only on putting one foot in front of the other, but on celebrating each strenuous rock scramble challenge and each mile marker. I recognized that I was accomplishing scary things, worrisome things and difficult things.
“YES!” I shouted after jumping over the crevice that went so far down I couldn’t see the bottom.
“YOU DID IT!” I celebrated after watching my husband squeeze between two rocks on his stomach while climbing vertically and “GO US!” we high fived once my husband and I got to the top of the mountain*.
Don’t let me fool you though. I’ve done this hike before with my best friend from childhood and survived and yet, I still spent parts of this weekend’s hike having to pump myself up and push through fears that were much bigger in my head than they were in real life. I quickly quieted the negative self-talk that would inevitably creep in because there was no turning back. I also cursed a little. The only way to finish the Old Rag hike is to keep going. And so I did. And honoring and recognizing what was happening as I was doing it was an entirely new experience. I gained momentum. I gained mental endurance. I gained emotional strength. I was extremely present in each moment knowing that a celebration of an accomplishment was on the other side of each challenge. I was reinforcing for myself regularly this weekend that I was doing hard things! I was even remembering and celebrating that I had done it before and I could do it again. The last time, I was just trying to get through it alive.
Celebrating is a skill. Patting yourself (or someone else) on the back requires a beat. It means there’s recognition of a triumph which comes in all shapes and sizes – everything from getting out of bed, to shifting perspective, to making a challenging phone call, to attending a networking event, to speaking to a large crowd, to remembering that it’s pajama day at your kid’s school are worthy of a celebration.
Either way, it means you’re taking a beat, pausing to notice something new and showing appreciation of a milestone.
When’s the last time you celebrated something that you can’t find on a Hallmark card? We don’t do this nearly enough. We just run as fast as we can on the hamster wheel of life and forget that we’re growing, evolving, learning and developing all the time because we rarely STOP. AND. LOOK. AROUND. AT. ALL. THE. THINGS. WE. DO. ALL. THE. TIME.
Take a beat. What did you to today that you can celebrate for a moment? What did your team do today that you can celebrate? Now celebrate that thing!
* “Top” of Old Rag has different definitions for different people. I’d already gone to the top of Old Rag in the summer, as I shared, but according to my husband, the “top” was literally the TOP OF THE TOP ROCK and not the peak where everyone else celebrates and stops to enjoy the view. Just when I had been pushed to my limit, he insisted that I climb higher with him to the point where you could climb no more. I didn’t want to do it, I wasn’t comfortable, and yet I knew I had more in me – and so did he. After screaming a few choice words at him, I mustered every ounce of strength I had left and clawed my way even higher up. To the top. He held space for me to do what he knew I was capable of, even if it was out of my comfort zone. Clearly 20 years of being with Coach Shayna has rubbed off on him!
I know some of my clients are laughing. Your coach got COACHED, my dears!