The times they are a’changing. But… they’ve always been a’changing. Change, after all, is the only constant in our lives. In part because of technological advances, it can seem that the rapidity with which change occurs is overwhelming. We are over-loaded, over-informed, over-committed and under-rested. Amid the madness created by this culture of chaos, and the confusion spawned by the nanosecond lifestyles, an oxymoronic need for constancy has arisen. That constancy can easily come in the form of “richuals,” ceremonies and celebrations that lend purpose to life and life to purpose, especially at work.
The suggestions here will, ideally, create constancy in terms of value–and not only around the traditional reasons for rituals: comings and goings, births and deaths, entries and exits of one sort or another. The richuals in this collection are designed to enrich the workplace and the many communities in which it resides. (The spelling is deliberately designed to suggest “enrichment” in conjunction with “rituals.”) Richuals are repeated actions that inspire anticipation; they are collective undertakings infused with fun, gratitude, and opportunities to do unto others. These activities can offset stress, isolation, and the disquieting feeling that we may not be “giving back” as much as we should or could.
Within the workplace, richuals help to define the culture, to reunite those divided by temporal, spatial, and cyberspace distances. Designed for people with too much to do and too little time in which to do it all, richuals are simple, easy to implement and user-friendly. They represent a convenient means of translating desire into action.
Whether you are interested in building teams, building partnerships, or building buildings for the homeless, richuals will help you forge the bonds that improve your spirits, improve your relationships, and even–in a small way–improve the community in which you live and work. You will find empowerment, stability, and esprit as you work with your corps on these undertakings. You will find joy in the ceremonies that celebrate our commonalities and cherish the differences that make us unique. That joy can be trusted.
With enriching rituals–rites that have been woven into the corporate fabric–we find missions more meaningful, goals more personalized, values more valuable and continuity more pride-inducing.
Richuals can be initiated by anyone, at any level of the organization. You may wish to make the rituals program official by publicizing a program of once-a-week richualing. You can take the micro approach–use the richuals at Monday staff meetings or as an energizer for dress-down Fridays. You may wish to set up a team like the Joy Club they have at Ben & Jerry’s, where “fun” and “work” are often synonymous terms. Or, you can take the macro approach–use the richuals department-wide or even organization-wide. Inform customers of your efforts and maybe even the local media. Involve as many people as possible, for a richual shared is a joy doubled.
We recommend you do one richual a week. If you follow the sequence to be presented in future articles, then the ritual becomes the doing of richuals. Or, you may prefer to select a richual at random and use it for a particular occasion, such as National Volunteers Week in January or Quality Month in October. You may even find one you like so well that you do the same richual every single week of the year. The “Small Change” idea (#1), for example, can easily become a richual unto itself 52 times a year.
Too, certain richuals coincide with national celebrations, such as Reconciliation Day, April 2, (Richual #12, “Throw Angsters Away”) or National American Indian Heritage Month in November (#40, “Fill Your Dreamcatcher”).
Richuals are do-good/feel-good efforts that go beyond mere reward and recognition programs. They are unique and uniquely geared to repetition–that is, the richuals should become a weekly or monthly affair. Certain richuals should be annual ceremonies; others become richuals by virtue of events at work, such as a retirement.
You can decide as you read them which ones fit into the special circumstances of your life and of your job. Typically, rituals are associated with rites of passage. Birth is a time for rituals, as are death, transitions, and alliances. The common threads with traditional rituals and richuals at work are the words “transition” and “change.”
The richuals to be found in upcoming articles also honor human passages via celebration. But rather than focus on change, these richuals focus on constancy–ways to repeatedly acknowledge and cherish the human spirit and the generosity of which it is so capable. The common threads are sewn into a quilt with numerous patches aimed at laughter, appreciation and joy. With them, we enrich our spirit and our circum-stances.
The richuals can be done informally at a staff meeting or more formally at an off-site meeting in a hotel. They can occur in the outside community or in cyberspace. They can be announced on the P.A. or in local newspapers. Let creativity guide you in finding the best places for engaging in enriching actions and the fellowship that follows.
The answer to the How question depends on a number of things: which richual has been chosen, which individual or individuals are involved, how much time can be allocated, how much interest others might have, et cetera. Generally speaking, though, we recommend you find a richual that “calls” to you. Talk it over with colleagues. Lay out a plan for the richual ceremony; determine how much time, money, and effort will be involved.
Share your plan with those whose approval/support you might need. Then implement your plan and keep on implementing it. If it is not repeated, it is not a richual.
Be guided in your soul-affirming efforts by Toynbee’s Law of Progressive Simplification: “The measure of a civilization’s growth and sustainable vitality lies in its ability to transfer increasing amounts of energy and attention from the material side of life to the educational, psychological, cultural, aesthetic, and spiritual side.”
With these richuals–two of which follow–you will find more than enough food for philanthropic hungers, more than enough nourishment for the needs of the spirit, more than enough salve for healing wounds of the soul.
#1 ~Make Big Changes with Small Change
Appoint one person to be the collector of loose change. Then, on Fridays, before colleagues rush off to a weekend of fun, ask them to donate all their small coins.
If you can gather a mere $15.00 a month, you can sponsor a child in a foreign country who is living in impoverished conditions.
The Save-the-Children foundation is but one that will arrange for you to make a big change in a little person’s life.
You can reach them at 1-800-728-3843. The funds go toward community development, helping families to help themselves. You can correspond with the child you are saving and will receive an annual progress report on the development activities.
#2 ~Award Your Own Eponyms
They have the Toni’s for Broadway, the Emmys for daytime television, and the Oscars for Hollywood. Name an award for someone in your workplace who is truly exemplary in terms of a particular organizational value. (Don’t limit yourself to current employees.) Who really serves customers? Who really knows how to lead a team? Who really emphasizes quality? That is the person whose first name will be used as the award recognizing the particular qualities he demonstrates so well.
Once the award has been established (and a ceremony held to recognize the individual), subsequent recipients can be regularly identified and given the award with considerable fanfare.