Only One Rule...


Only One Rule...

March 15, 2019 


This week I took a moment to celebrate a small win. When I paused, it suddenly occurred to me, I had not taken the time over the past six months working on this project, to celebrate the series of small wins which brought me to this place.   

  • When was the last time you gave yourself credit?
  • What did you do to celebrate?
  • Have you ever found you are so busy doing, doing, doing…that you do not take the time to congratulate yourself on the progress you have made, rather than beating yourself up over what did not get done?
  • Do you just check the task off your endless to-do list and immediately move on to the next thing?
  • Do you ever find yourself saying, “great job, but…?”

We can be our own toughest critics. I know that has often been the case for me.

One of the ways I chose to celebrate what I had accomplished this week was to sit in my Loft and read out loud, “Only One Rule”, one of my favorite poems by Hafiz. 

I came to know Hafiz through the amazing renditions of his poetry by Daniel Ladinsky, who writes in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master: “HAFIZ, whose given name was Shams-ud-din Muhammad (c.1320-1389), is the most beloved poet of Persia. Born in Shiraz, he lived at about the same time as Chaucer in England and about one hundred years after Rumi.” 

I invite you to be swept up by the beautiful imagery, mystery and joy of “Only One Rule” (page 331, The Gift”)

The sky
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish that swim. 

The planets are the white whales I sometimes
Hitch a ride

The sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves into my heart
And upon my

There is only one rule on this Wild Playground, 

Every sign Hafiz has ever seen
Reads the same. 

They all say, 

“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,
In the beloved’s divine

O, in the Beloved’s

I am captivated by this poem because it makes me feel alive with joy. Celebration is more than checking something off your to-do list or saying “great job” to yourself or someone else. True celebration requires that we feel the emotion of satisfaction, positivity, enthusiasm, happiness or joy and appreciation.   

So, I say to myself and to you… have fun! Celebrations are meant to be shared with family and friends. Are you having fun, now? There is great energy in laughing and playing and sharing. 

It turns out that it is really important to celebrate the small wins – every day. There is a science behind it. 

Whether you are a student of goal attainment theory or familiar with the Progress Principle, the research demonstrates and supports that celebrating small wins – every day – can enhance your motivation. In the May 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review, “The Power of Small Wins,” by Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer, they write: 

“In a dramatic rebuttal to the commonplace claim that high pressure and fear spur achievement, we found that, at least in the realm of knowledge work, people are more creative and productive when their inner work lives are positive—when they feel happy, are intrinsically motivated by the work itself, and have positive perceptions of their colleagues and the organization. Moreover, in those positive states, people are more committed to the work and more collegial toward those around them. Inner work life, we saw, can fluctuate from one day to the next—sometimes wildly—and performance along with it. A person’s inner work life on a given day fuels his or her performance for the day and can even affect performance the next day.” 

They go on to share their research using 26 project teams from seven companies, comprising 238 individuals. Each participant was working on a creative project and was asked to fill out a daily survey inquiring about their “inner work life.” In their words, these are the results:   

“When we analyzed all 12,000 daily surveys filled out by our participants, we discovered that progress and setbacks influence all three aspects of inner work life. On days when they made progress, our participants reported more positive emotions. They not only were in a more upbeat mood in general but also expressed more joy, warmth, and pride. When they suffered setbacks, they experienced more frustration, fear, and sadness.” 

If you want to dig deeper into their research, you can read the full HBR article here: The Power of Small Wins. They have a lot of good counsel for bosses and coaches. For example, I loved their distinction that good bosses “check in”, rather than “check up.”  You may also want to check out the book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.  

It makes sense, right? Really, really big wins – in business, in sports, in life – are usually relatively rare events. If we choose to celebrate all the small wins along the way, we will be more engaged and more motivated. We will feel more successful. We will be having more FUN! 

In closing, I offer two suggestions: 

First: Celebrate and journal your small wins – every day. Write what you feel – whether that be relief, or enthusiasm, or accomplishment, perhaps, even, joy. A win could be simply making your bed. Or, perhaps it’s taking your dog for an extra long walk. Maybe it is picking up the phone and reconnecting with someone you haven’t talked with recently.  

For me, this week, it was completing 4 videos in my new make shift studio in my Loft. Stay tuned. Of course, I could have celebrated when I received my green screen and new lighting. Or when a friend helped me assemble the equipment. Or when another friend and associate recommended, I get a new plug-in camera attachment. Or when yet another friend, took the picture which is now the back drop. I thanked them all at the time. And, I thank them all again. And, did I celebrate each and every step on the journey? No! I waited until it was “done,” this week. And our work is never done. 

Celebrate the small wins.  

Second: Share your wins – with your family and friends. No one wants to celebrate alone. Share your accomplishments and your enthusiasm. Many of us are counseled not to “brag.” I have come around to the belief that sharing my stories are one of the most precious gifts I can give to others.  

This Blog on celebrating the small wins is my way of sharing my “win” this week -- creating videos to introduce myself and my coaching practice to a broader audience.  Stay tuned.  

Share your small wins with family and friends. It is a gift, only you can give.


And, remember, there is only one rule: “Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun, in the beloved’s divine Game.”


 Till next time,  


 May you be happy now and always.

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