I was recently coaching a woman who had hit an incredible career milestone, one that so many of us would aspire to reach. Yet, I noticed that her response to this achievement was not consistent with the result she was sharing. There was a palpable disconnect in her body language and emotion from the reality of this major milestone.

I then asked her – “How can we celebrate this?”

She hesitated and said – “I am not sure.”

It was clear that there was more beneath the surface. As we explored, it became clear that humility was an incredibly strong value for her, and celebrating this milestone or sharing it with friends and family felt in conflict with this deeply held value.

I felt inspired to explore what it could mean to hold a celebration in one hand and humility in the other.

We first explored the cost of not making room for this celebration. Not in the literal sense of having a party (though that can be a very beautiful manifestation of a celebration) but more around pausing to savor an important milestone, owning our achievements, and internalizing our own grit and resilience to be able to sustain our achievements and more importantly to find joy and beauty in what we do and whom we become in that process?

I then asked her – what was the cost of “NOT” celebrating this milestone on other women (and men) who are looking up to her. She is a strong people-focused leader and being a good role model was important to her.

This question moved her and the big insight there was that she was likely sending the message that they too were not allowed to savor and celebrate.

She noticed some shifts in how much she was holding herself back by not feeling the joy of her achievement.

We then explored what her career (and life) could look like if we made room for both humility and celebration, gratitude and our own resourcefulness at the same time.

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I reconnected with her recently and it was wonderful to witness her “own” her full power and her big dreams not from a place of arrogance or grandiosity but humility and the right dose of assertiveness and confidence.

What moves me about this story is how much we are conditioned to equate celebration, and owning our success stories with a lack of humility, and yet that is often not true. And yes, I am not denying there is so much sleaziness and self-promotion that can feel “too much” but there is often room to honor the story of our successes both for our own selves and also to inspire and support others.

In organizations, leaders who can do this tastefully can open doors for others around them. Taking the time to celebrate can create healthy team cultures that value growth but also the pause to scale even greater heights.

Here’s my invitation: What is something that you can fully celebrate in your own unique style this week? And as you go about making room for this, pay attention to the impact on yourself and those you intend to serve and support.

Pic Credit: Markus Spiske

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