Routines to Rituals

As the world starts to reopen and the doors of some of favorite establishments are admitting people again, I thought I should share a few thoughts on the matter. When, what felt like the world shut down in March 2020 a lot of people had their routines disrupted and people were furloughed from their jobs, working from home, had their favorite restaurants closed, etc. I personally believe that people are resilient and can weather any storm that is thrown at them. People can and do change their routines all the time, with new jobs, school years, significant others, children and so on. What I have heard is that people are feeling a great loss over not being able to do these things. This is where I think that they are just more than routines, I believe that they are rituals as well.

In our sectarian world that we live in, when we hear the word ritual we prescribe that to deal with religion and religious rites. Now those are rituals, but I am taking a broader meaning to the word. A ritual in its most simplest form is an act or series of acts that that has meaning and usually connects us with something or someone. Humankind has had rituals around since the very beginning. We need to perform these rituals to give us a sense of grounding. The give ease to our anxiety over what we cannot control.

For example, when you get to the office, you go through the routine of taking off your coat, booting your computer, putting your lunch away and meeting up with a few colleagues in the break room. Now most of that is routine, but meeting up and discussing the nights activities around the proverbial water cooler is ritual. And working from home we have lost that connection. Or when I went out for wings with a few of the guys last night, it felt right. Even though we had wings a few times at home, it was not the same as being in the space, doing the actions of the ritual. It gave us some control back. Rituals give us control over our space and our lives. These are especially important in these times when the world seems entirely out of our control.

What can we do now? Some of our old rituals may no longer be serving us well. So we can use this time to mourn the loss of them. They were part of us for a while and we can let them go and create new rituals. I think it is important to be intentional with how we spend our time and what we give our focus on. In lean we talk about our true north, the ancient European symbol Teiwaz is also one of guiding to our destination. It is the guiding principle for many organizations. Toyota has part of their true north is that they want to make the an automobile with perfect 1 piece flow and done as soon as possible after a customer orders it. Basically, that as each part is created it is assembled onto the automobile and that there is no waiting for anything along the supply chain. They have employed and developed many tools to get along their journey. But first they had to figure out where they wanted to go. They are not trying to be better then anyone else, they just want to be the best at what they do. Trying to ever better themselves. Do not worry if you feel like this is taking a long time, Toyota has been doing this for over 60 years and are not there yet.

Let us use this time to figure out where we want to go, both personally and in our organizations. What is the grander vision? Where do we want to go? What are our values? From there we can chart a course there. There will be a lot of unknowns along the way, but we can create rituals that actually support us in our journey to our North Star. There are many tools out there to help us along our journey. Some of those tools may need to be developed or joined with other tools. Seek out people that can help you along your journey. Create new rituals to sustain you.

Let me know down in the comments, what rituals do you do? What do you want to create?