The baseball player draws a Hebrew word in the dirt with the tip of his bat during every trip to the plate, and he's not even Jewish. NBA players give each other high five, pat on the backside or some low-key fist bump after free-throws. In our culture we often associate ritual with sports -- a little backside pat before every meeting doesn't work in the boardroom.
But it turns out that rituals aren't all ghosts and mirrors. Research shows that we really do respond differently to the world around us when there's a repeated action involved. If you say grace before a meal, you're more likely to enjoy your food.
Rituals can also calm anxieties. Maybe we don't actually have more control over a situation after performing a ritual, but we feel like we do -- and that's what matters. A ritual that calms performance jitters or helps us move on from a loss, can positively impact our performance. If blasting classic rock and singing at the top of your lungs in your car gets you major presentation ready (as it does for me) -- then that's a ritual that worked.
Business teams, sports teams -- maybe there's something management can learn from their athletic counterparts. Here are four sports rituals to consider:
- Slaughter Rules: In baseball, it's considered rude to steal bases if your team is winning by a huge margin. My father would say, "It's just never done!" What's the point of pressing an advantage when you've already won? It's not worth the effort to risk a bad slide, an injury and a negative statistic when the game is already decided. Let good sportsmanship carry the day. In business, if the deal is done, let it alone. If you're a person known for honest deals who works well with others, that pays off when you're playing the long game of a career.
Tomorrow, start paying attention to how you dress on a big day, or how you take your coffee. Embrace the rhythm. You have rituals, and they can make all the difference. So why not for your team and your company?
What rituals work for you and your office?
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more