Think of your childhood. Do you remember your childhood exactly as it was, or do you tend to remember particular defining moments? Our nature is to look at our lives with stand-out moments that create our strongest memories. This is true in our personal and our professional lives. Whilst we tend to think that these special moments are the result of fate, luck, or intervention of a higher power, we don’t have to wait around or be on stand-by wondering what will happen next. We can create experiences and situations that foster these breakthrough memorable moments that enrich our connections with others that can move us in an entirely new direction or career path. If this is the case, instead of simply waiting for special defining moments to randomly happen to us, surely, we can do something more to create them, to be the authors of special moments for ourselves and others. This is the premise of the book “The Power of Moments” by Chris and Dan Heath; a great read for managers who want to make more memorable moments in their workplace.
Making Stand-out Memories
In order to set the stage for creating special stand-out moments, it helps to explore and understand what makes historical events stand out as special. The authors, following much research, suggest that when we look back at a particular event, we forget about the duration (a phenomenon called “duration neglect”) and tend to recall two main elements; (1) the best or worst moment, (known as the “peak”) and (2) the ending. We forget the rest. Psychologists call this the “peak-end rule.”Knowing what our mind recalls suggests a formula, of sorts, for making special moments. In fact, the technique outlines four key things to focus on. While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by the four elements listed below. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. Great experiences or defining moments happen when we include one or more of these:
These are moments that rise above the commonplace, above the everyday, above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed and motivated. To elevate a moment, you need to do at least two of these three things: (i) boost sensory appeal or turn up the volume on reality. (ii) Secondly, raise the stakes (add an element of pressure: introduce a competition, a game, a performance, a deadline). (iii) Thirdly, break the script ie: change expectations about an experience. To break the script is to defy people’s expectations of how an experience will unfold. How do you break the script consistently enough that it matters, but not so consistently that people adapt to it? Introduce a bit of randomness. Pret-A-Manger employees in the UK, for example, are allowed to give away a certain number of food and beverage items every week; an ‘out of the blue’ memory-making surprise and delight component to their customer service.
These are moments whereby some new understanding is reached, or a new truth is realised. While moments of elevation lift us above the everyday, moments of insight spark discoveries about our world and ourselves. These are ‘a-ha’ moments, where an epiphany is reached, a moment whereby you “trip over the truth” of a problem or challenge as Chip and Dan define it. It’s a defining moment that in an instant can change the way you see the world. The ingredients for these moments are (i) clear insight (ii) compressed in time and (iii) discovered by the audience/ individual themselves.
To deliver moments of insight for others, leaders can create situations that lead them to “trip over the truth,” or spark a realisation. Furthermore, leaders then need to “stretch for insight”, placing others in new situations that expose them to the risk of failure. Leaders with good mentorship qualities can stretch their team further than they thought they could go, sparking defining moments in the process. These moments and ‘stretching’ are not about achieving success but about achieving self-insight and growth from it.
These are moments of achievement, moments that help people feel proud for achieving/ reaching milestones.
The simplest way to create moments of pride for others is to offer them plenty of recognition. The more personal the recognition, the more meaningful and memorable the moment will be – formal recognition like in a performance review is not going to be anywhere near as meaningful than a random and unexpected show of gratitude of work well done. To create moments of pride for ourselves and our team, we can create more meaningful milestones so instead of celebrating one win at the end of a project, we can recognise and reward the many small wins along the way, that would otherwise go unnoticed.
These are moments of social engagements whereby you create shared meaning and seek to deepen connections; moments where transformational alliances are formed between two or more people. These can be designed by creating events to share purpose and higher meaning to the work being done, events that unite and highlight the mission that binds the team together and supersedes any differences that arise in the day-to-day. A higher purpose is defined by the sense that you are doing something bigger than yourself, you are contributing to others.
Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck—but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? Give it a go yourself.
If you would like to book in a tailored leadership workshop with me this year or in 2020 get in touch today. I’d love to help!