Moments of Celebration and Ceremony

In health care, we are gifted to be part of and witness transformational and memorable Moments in the lives of our patients: healing, thriving, birthing, passing. And, as leaders, we are also fortunate to be the guide for some of the most memorable life Moments for our team members and providers: a first job, a promotion, a graduation, a milestone accomplishment, or retirement.

By honoring accomplishments and triumphs, we are honoring the humanity that makes us who we are. Ceremonies and celebrations help to create meaning, story, and memory out of what may otherwise be experienced as routine.

This week, we’ll dig into the scientifically proven benefit of acknowledging Moments and explore two very different exemplars of Moment-making. From basketball to bears, we’ll learn how Moments are an integral part of our life journey no matter our age; no matter our Experience.

Why Celebrate

Did you know there’s a psychological reason to create ceremony and celebration? This fascinating piece from Inc. Magazine explains how the Experience of celebration releases endorphins that not only feel great, but also reinforce the positive behavior that led to success. The converse is also true – when we don’t take the time to honor and celebrate, we train our brains to think that our behaviors and accomplishments are not worthy of excitement or acknowledgement. The moment that we spend in celebration is setting us up for the kind of positive psychology we will need when we face challenges. Celebration and ceremony also create new opportunities for forming bonds between individuals of very different backgrounds and life Experiences.

As leaders, we often finish one project successfully and simply move on to the next without taking the time to celebrate. How might we build a celebratory moment into the project plan? Who could be a part of that?

The Heart of the Bear

At Build-A-Bear, there is a heartwarming ceremony celebrating just that: the heart. The make-your-own teddy bear boutique gives children the power to customize and bring their furry friends to life through their “heart ceremony.” It is sure to bring a smile to the face of all visitors no matter their age. After their bear is selected and stuffed, customers are given a small, silky red heart — the final addition to the bear. Customers are asked to rub it on their head to give their bear wisdom, on their knees so they know they are needed, on their ears to make them good listeners, and to give it a kiss to fill the bear with love. This signature Moment defines the entire Experience for the new bear owner and creates a loving, lasting memory forever associated with the bear.

One Shining Moment

Perhaps the most recognizable and remembered song in sports is basketball’s “One Shining Moment.” After the NCAA basketball champion is crowned, the emotion-filled song is played to celebrate the many accomplishments of the young athletes. As it plays, highlights from the course of the tournament are played in montage.


The lyrics say it all:

“The ball is tipped

and there you are

you’re running for your life

you’re a shooting star

And all the years

no one knows

just how hard you worked

but now it shows…



As with many Moments of commemoration and celebration, “One Shining Moment” is memorable due to the high intensity Experience that comes with a win or a loss combined with the sensory Experience of a song. In what ways can we combine sensory Experience with one of the many Moments of high emotion that we see in our organizations?

Elements of Moments

What comprises a Moment? The first definition that may come to mind is “a short period of time: an instant.” Yet, there’s more to it. A Moment is also defined as, “a definite period or stage; a juncture.” This second meaning takes an instant and gives it more gravitas – it is this particular meaning of Moments that we are seeking to create. As Experience leaders, we have the opportunity to turn a Moment into a lasting memory.

Many elements affect the way in which we make Moments matter: the environment they’re designed within, the senses that are engaged throughout, and the feelings in the heart that last beyond. All three work in harmony to shape a Moment. This week we will learn from three very different exemplars working in very different environments who have mastered the importance of intentionally creating Moments.


Artist Scott Thrift was tired of the way we were marking time, so he changed it. Today, featured in this month’s action kit, is a 24-hour clock aimed to enhance the understanding and Experience of the present moment and remind us of the bigger picture of time. Thrift realized that our society has been using the same clock with the two 12-hour cycles since its invention. “The way we measure time dictates our behavior and so we deserve access to scales that are more appropriate for the way we live our lives now and far into the future,” Thrift said in this TechCrunch article. The goal of Today is to encourage us not to feel limited by time, rather instead feel freed by living in the present.

In what ways might we physically remind our team members, providers, patients, and guests to slow down and mark the Moments? While certain Moments at our organizations depend on the traditional marking of time (the time a child is born, the time someone is scheduled for surgery), what Experiences could be enhanced when disconnected from traditional measures of time?

What is a Moment?

Enjoy this awe-inducing video by the team at RadioLab.

As so wonderfully exhibited by this short piece, defining Moments come in a countless number of forms. From blowing a dandelion to the first cut of a surgeon’s knife, we see that Moments can be deeply personal and often characterized and evoked by sensory Experiences: the sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings brought on by the joys and sorrows of LIVING and LOVING. Every moment is filled with the possibility and potential to be a defining moment in someone’s life.

What senses are engaged in our organizations, clinics, hospitals, and offices? Are these the Moments we want to be remembered for? Why or why not?

The ROI of “I Love You So Much”

Jo’s Coffee in Austin, Texas, outsells its competitors because of LOVE. The love isn’t in its cups of coffee, or even dispensed by the baristas. Jo’s love comes from the famous mural spray-painted across the building: “I love you so much.” This simple mural tells customers from the moment they approach Jo’s storefront they are valued and cared for by the establishment as a whole. This emotional moment – this Connection – is what sets Jo’s apart and fosters an intensely loyal fan base. This place is different.  

What do our organizations’ messages say about the Moments we create for our team members, providers, patients, and guests? How might we alter the message to better match the Experience we are aiming to create? Consider the same questions within your own work area.

Intro to Moments

 The next few weeks will be devoted to the principle of Moments. Our lives are made up of countless Moments layered upon each other. It’s up to us to tap into the power of each moment and choose to turn each one into something meaningful.

While not every moment is huge, each provides the opportunity to shape the Experience for those we connect with or touch. That’s the beauty of it – with each new moment comes a new opportunity to look someone in the eyes, be present, and create a positive memory. Let’s dig in.

Moment Making Designed Anew

Brands have often relied on “pop-ups” to launch a new product or create a memorable Experience yet with the COVID-19 pandemic, brands were driven to rethink the Intention of a storefront. It has become an opportunity to pause and experiment in order to make a Moment memorable, inspiring, and enticing.

Knowing that “people have never needed a big dose of happiness more than they do right now,” Happy Place is opened in LA with 18 joyful drive-thru Experiences. Guests will enjoy fun, safe Experiences from the comfort of their cars.

With the constraints of COVID-19 now ever present, how might we surprise and delight our team members, providers, patients, and guests with unexpected Moments?