We are all different, yet we share many of the same desires:

To be seen, heard, appreciated, valued, and trusted. To feel like we belong and that we matter.

Often, the drama and the demands we face as leaders seems to get in the way of this much-needed perspective. I get how hard it is.

A consistent struggle for leaders is aligning our intentions with the impact of our actions. One way we can do that is through tradition.

Traditions show people what matters to you. They create stories that bring meaning to what you believe and why you believe it.

One of the most significant traditions we have at PG is our annual Sherpa Trip. It’s a sacred tradition I created to protect and enhance our culture. We have a mountain climbing theme throughout out culture at PG. And each year I name a Sherpa, a climber (my term for employee) who best exemplifies how we must live our values for the entire company. This is our most coveted award. A Sherpa is a guide who helps climbers get up and down the mountain safely. They often risk their own safety to do this job because their job is not about their journey, it’s about the climbers they’re supporting. Each year after the award is given, I take all the PG Sherpas from past and present on a special trip.

A standout moment for me this year was our traditional opening to the meeting. We had the winner, Stephanie DeStefanis (our Manager of Organizational Development), sit at the front of the room and we each expressed something about her that we were grateful for. There were tears, lots of laughs, and countless examples of how climbing together as one is always better!

You can see for yourself here the impact the trip had on her and read more about how I do it here.


Sharing the Gifts


The Sherpa tradition is now 10+ years strong and with consistency over the years, lore around it has grown. Prior to this trip, we simply had a quarterly business review, which was important but not memorable. A few creative steps later, it transformed into a story worth sharing by creating tradition.

When I work with aspiring leaders, one of the first things I do is seek to understand the impact that want to make on the people they lead. Then I point to the routines they’ve created to bring that impact to life.

It’s magical watching their eyes light up when we brainstorm ideas of how they can create a few simple traditions around existing routines. By changing the routines and creating some meaningful traditions, I believe people begin to understand that we as leaders want more for them than from them. This is a powerful shift in dynamic that helps the connection grow stronger–an important step in creating a common goal and a more effective team. In parts two and three of The Gift of Struggle, I share the most powerful and simple tools I’ve utilized to create powerful traditions.


Become a Student of Struggle


Aspiring leaders who want to show people they want more for them than from them can begin by asking themselves.

  1. How clearly have I defined the impact I want to make on the people I lead?
  2. What routines exist in my calendar that I can change into a powerful tradition?
  3. What type of traditions best compliments the culture of my organization?

I’ve learned that most leaders are a few creative steps away from becoming the leader they imagine, making a lasting impact of the great people they lead.

How do you create meaning for your team? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Give > Take


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