Conventional wisdom tells us to set goals and celebrate when the goals are achieved. Setting goals is important, because it makes our activity purposeful. Celebration is important, because it reinforces the value of accomplishing something worthwhile.

I would like to propose a change.

Years ago, a colleague and I were filming a promotional video about consulting services. We were demonstrating a consulting training program, but since the final product was going to have voiceover only, we were mostly making jokes with a straight face. At one point, we were ordering 12 steps of project management in the right sequence. One of the steps was Celebrate Success.

Naturally, we put that first.

Step 1: Celebrate Success

Once the camera moved in closer to show what we had done, we had to quickly stop filming and put things in proper order. But we never forgot that. Somehow, starting with celebrating success felt right. Like eating your dessert first. Or opening your Christmas presents before Christmas. Obviously wrong, but obviously right.

Later, that same colleague became my business partner when we agreed to start our own company that would eventually become VFP Consulting. We agreed on a business name and printed business cards. We didn’t have a customer or a prospect. Where did we start? That’s right. A sushi feast for the ages to celebrate our impending success. You might argue starting a new business is worthy of celebration. After all, we took the big leap that so few people do. But we hadn’t accomplished anything, so we should’ve been celebrating taking the first step – not success.

… all of it became reason to celebrate.

As we grew the business, celebrating success became part of our vernacular. We’d have a new prospect that might turn into business and might not. The natural response after telling the other person was the question, “Celebrate success?” It was an optimistic way of expecting the best.

Over time, the justification for celebrating success became smaller and smaller. Being introduced to a possible vendor, scheduling a recruitment call with a candidate, realizing we needed to update our website… all of it became reason to celebrate.

Let me reiterate: This was a joke. It started out as a joke and stayed a long-running inside joke. We didn’t actually throw a party when we started a bank reconciliation. What we did was talk a lot about success before we finishing something. So much so that recently we decided to find something worth celebrating every day. We even created a  Google calendar just for this purpose. As we go through our day, we are thinking about what we can put on that calendar.

Totally by accident, we have turned a joke that won’t die into a part of our company culture. It reinforces two ideals we don’t want to lose sight of at VFP Consulting – have fun and look for the positives in everyday situations. Because frankly, not every day is the end of a big project, and a lot of days are just hard work.

For a young growing business, the challenges are constant, and there can be long stretches of one piece of bad news after another. It’s easy to get lost in the small things and lose sight of your original vision. For us, it was important to find a way to remind ourselves what we care about and weave that into our story. Chapter 1 of our story starts with celebration.

So, what do you say? Celebrate Success?

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