I’m reading a fascinating book right now that I highly recommend: The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath. Researchers at Stanford and Duke, the brothers share their findings that certain experiences in our lives have extraordinary impact – some very positive and some very negative.
For example, in the book they share that two founders of a start up charter school were relaxing one evening watching ESPN’s National Signing Day program – the first day when the best high school football players in the nation sign a binding letter of intent to attend a particular college. For those teenagers, their families and millions of college football fans, this day is huge and is celebrated in remarkable ways in the schools and hometowns of these athletes. This sparked an idea – that they have a Senior Signing Day at their charter school each spring in which every senior has an opportunity to go up on stage and announce where they will be attending college and why they’ve chosen that school. They would unveil a T-shirt or pennant with their school’s insignia and in some cases they had kept their decision a secret from friends so that there was suspense in the air as they took the stage. Later in the day the students would sit in the cafeteria with their families crowded around them, signing letters of matriculation, confirming their enrollment in the fall.
The two leaders were struck by the impact this day had – it became the most important day of the school’s year. And not only did it had impact on those seniors and their families – but it had impact on all the other students in the school, all of whom were present as seniors announced their choices. One younger middle school student shared, that could be me someday – no one from my family has ever even gone to college. I want to be on that stage someday.
The authors wrote this book in part to encourage their readers to reflect on the impact certain moments have had in their own lives and to begin creating moments that have meaning and impact – moments with their family, their friends, their work colleagues, even the cashier at the grocery store or the neighbor they encounter on a walk. The book is a reminder that life is simply a continuous stream of moments and as we intentionally begin creating more powerful and positive moments in our lives we enrich our own lives and the lives of others, and we make meaningful memories that over time build a rich legacy that we leave behind to those we love.
I’m so grateful for this book – it is helping me understand the power each of us have to shape our lives by shaping our moments. As we head into this Labor Day weekend, perhaps these four ideas will spark some actions you might take to make more moments of your life impactful for you and others:
- Buy a special gift for a spouse or child and write a note telling them what you admire in them and how much you love them. Sit down with them and share your gift and note; it will blow them away.
- The next time you gather with your family around the dinner table, ask each person to share something they admire about the person next to them. Or ask a question and invite everyone to answer it. Questions like, what qualities do I most admire in a person or how did I fail in the last week and what did I learn from it. These “moments” will be remembered and valued, building even deeper connections between those who share the experience.
- At work, make someone’s first day all about them. Have pictures of them posted – have a team lunch that celebrates their arrival. Invite their spouse or a friend of theirs to attend. Talk about building loyalty right from the start… wow!
- Finally, begin looking at your calendar at the beginning of the week and think about each appointment, each meeting, each gathering. What can you plan and do to add zest and joy to those encounters – powerful moments that inspire and build up those you are with.
Let’s see how we all can begin transforming our lives and the lives of those around us through moments.
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Written by Matt Palmer, Partner & Co-Founder