Phillies High 5Watching American baseball, I have often been struck by the way teams celebrate every single success, whether they are winning or losing—big or small. As each player returns to the dugout coming across home plate, delivering on a sacrifice bunt, or launching a ball into home run territory, team members in the dugout greet that player with high-fives-all-around.

At first I thought the pattern was a bit meaningless, they celebrate every single good play. Why is baseball the only sport in which we see this excess? A few reasons occurred to me:

  • Baseball is a game of failure. If a player gets a base hit one-third of the time, he is doing well. Imagine if you failed two-thirds of the time at work.
  • Players go into “slumps”—even the best of them. Public slumps. The Philadelphia Phillies have been beleaguered by their big guys coming up empty the last few years. I’ve had slumps in my work, but they are never very public.
  • Players make errors—even the best of them. An error can lose the game. One missed catch, one wild pitch, one failed stolen base.

So , I “get it.” Every great baseball play, run in, etc. is worthy of a celebration.

In my client teams, I often have to remind and even “force” teams to celebrate the big wins of the week, month, quarter or year. The focus is generally on what didn’t go well or the next big objective. Team members rarely “high-five” their colleagues—at least, not in a noticeable way.

I wonder how our work lives would be more enjoyable if we automatically gave each other a high-five for every intermediate step to our intended outcome. How would you feel if you saw the high-fives coming at you as you returned from a successful meeting or milestone result?

Why don’t we start that practice? Consider doing so this week and let me know what you experience.