The Power of Ritual (and Why it Should Matter to Your Organization)

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | September 2023

Illustration of coworkers happy together.

In 1957, Writer Alan Saunders (and not John Lennon, much to my chagrin) accurately said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

Isn't that the truth?


It's busy out there. Try to name someone that isn't busy. It's tough, isn't it? It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of life, letting seasons whisk by without an out-breath. When you look up, summer's over, and it's already September.
We live in a busy culture. That's the default response to the question, "How are things?"
But I bet you haven't heard about Busy Life Syndrome. According to the Glasgow Clinical Trials, the cause is a hectic life and sleep deprivation. This leads to memory loss and a lack of concentration. Wow, that's pretty heavy. Plus, being busy all the time sucks.

What's the answer to all the traps of busyness? 

Cue the drumroll…


And no, I’m not giving you something extra to do. 

Rituals are an effective way to slow down, smell the roses, and reset. They anchor us and provide a foundation. They're not only powerful for us as individuals; they can be revolutionary for organizations. 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ritual as:

/ˈrɪtʃ·u·əl/ a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony. A ritual is also any act done regularly, usually without thinking about it: [ C ] My morning ritual includes reading the newspaper while I drink my coffee.

My family will tell you that I like a good ritual or tradition. We have so many! It's a good thing David does, too. I guess that's one of the reasons we're good together. 

I'm writing this on September 8, 2023. The State Fair is over, the kids are back in school, and our 30th wedding anniversary is approaching. Woah. How did that happen?

I used to get a little blue around this time of the year when the relaxed summer days would be in the rearview mirror. 

One thing that always seemed to cheer me up was a fall reset. It's a little ritual I do. This entails getting organized, sharpening my saw, and preparing for the new fall schedule. Maybe even picking up a fresh notebook and pens.

I'm sure you're thinking, "This is all fine and dandy, but what does this have to do with running an organization?”

Bear with me. There's a connection. I promise.

Rituals give us meaning. They provide us with juice; an organization with juice is healthy and robust.

For me, rituals build resilience and healthy patterns. They also make days memorable and remind me of what's essential. This is especially critical when you find yourself caught up in busy minutiae.

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Five ways your organization can use rituals to empower your people

Recognize Team Members

This doesn't have to be an award ceremony or something so formal. At ArcStone, recognizing team members is as simple as giving a #Kudos in our Slack channel or at our daily huddle.  

Celebrate Wins and Accomplishments

In today's busy world, it's easy to cross something off the list and hop into the next without a moment lost. Resist the temptation, and take some time to do a little celebrating. For us at ArcStone, this means blessing our newly-launched websites. I bet you didn't know we did that. We send our websites out into the world with dedication, and then we toast to their success.

Take a Breather and Get Recharged

Taking time after a gala or big project ends is valuable. It allows us to reflect on what went well and what could improve. Inviting team members to a project debrief creates a growth-oriented culture.

Tell Stories

Enlist the power of rituals to create a culture of storytelling. For example, hold regular sessions where team members share personal or professional stories. This can be in the form of 'Story Fridays' or 'Memoir Meetings'. Another idea is to start some meetings with a short story. This sets the tone and emphasizes the importance of narratives in your organization. At ArcStone, we use Sparkle Wednesday to form deeper connections and get to know each other better.

Be Grateful

Practice gratitude with your team. It's hard to be thankful for what you have, especially when you start nitpicking the small stuff. When I'm in a negative mindset, the ritual of writing a thank you note gets me out of a funk and puts me in a better mood. Try it. It works

Pro tip: Get a nice set of stationary and stamps to remove any friction whatsoever.

Ready to add rituals into your day-to-day life?

It’s easy. Start here!

What are you doing and why are you doing it?

Think about your objectives. What are you hoping the ritual accomplishes? Do you want to foster connections between team members? Create an inclusive environment? Consider your objectives and be deliberate about them.

Designate a Time and Place.

If you're like me, you rely on your calendar. If you don't schedule it, it won't happen.

Don’t Be too Precious

If you miss something or get off track, start again. Every day is a new day!

Topics: Inside ArcStone

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