Catalyst, Great Stories, Leadership, Vision

What’s your Icon?

This is a time of year when rituals, traditions, and symbols are everywhere. Some represent family, others are seasonal or sacred. In fact, a lot of the things I do that make it feel like Christmas are meaningful in ways I can’t easily explain. Defining why it seems so wrong that my parents bought an artificial Christmas tree is a lot harder than just saying “it’s not Christmas.” The thing is, there are certain things that mark this holiday for me and remind me of not just scenes from my past, but also of what I consider important. In conversations with some younger leaders recently, we’ve talked about the importance of having symbols or rituals that keep us mindful of our dreams. When the daily pressures and activities of life distract us and we can easily lose track of the longer term goals and focus that are the real point. Whether it’s students struggling through exams, charity executives managing the load of electronic communications, or front line staff longing to see change that seems so slow to come; we all need to be deliberate in reminding ourselves of why it’s worth continuing. We need icons. For some it’s a picture placed easily in sight on the desk, some review core statements regularly, others rely on images, music, technological prompts, or the power of stories to regain focus. Years ago I developed a personal mission statement that I printed off, sealed in a large ziploc bag, and duct taped to the wall of my shower. At board meetings for the organization I serve as board chair we begin each meeting with a story of the impact our team has had on a particular person’s life. What are your icons?