“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” — Nelson Mandela

My son Jacob celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday this year before the onset of the current pandemic. We celebrated that milestone with many friends in our community dining room. Everyone shared cake, friendship, and fun.

With the ongoing need to social distance and stay at home, how to celebrate milestones has become less clear. Our need to mark special moments hasn’t dimmed but many of our traditional ways of doing so aren’t available.

Yet, in our local community, a couple engaged to be married figured it out. They arranged a zoom wedding attended by over 100 people from all around the world. The bride and groom held the ceremony at a spectacular waterfall. The couple, officiant, and witnesses wore masks and maintained social distance. They then walked and danced through the middle of our village while people banged pots and played musical instruments.

It was joyous and fun.

Many of many clients feel like their projects have been derailed and thrown into ambiguity. Our work now is to redefine milestones that create a guidance system for everyone involved. We need to make sure the milestones are:

  • Compelling.  It is rare for someone to like “make-work.”  The milestone must have significance for the organization and the individual.
  • Clear and concise.  I hear from many people that their email load has doubled.  Get to the point.  Make it clear.
  • Achieveable.  Yes, stretch goals are fine.  However, we are finding that during this time it is important to have a dual set of goals. Define minimum success measures first. Follow those with stretch goals.
  • 1 Short term milestone.  What will you get done in the next two months during the lockdown?
  • 1 longer term milestone.  Beyond the lockdown, define what the starting line will look like?  What needs to be done to be ready to return to “live” performances?

When you achieve each milestone, you as the leader must be prepared to mark the achievement with something meaningful.  Thank everyone who contributed. Perhaps do virtual “high-fives”. Tell jokes. Stay positive.

And let’s be like the wedding couple, by being creative, positive and dancing towards the future.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

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