Our local high school just opened a new football stadium that was renovated to the tune of $10.5 million. It is as beautiful as you would expect it to be for that price.
My favorite part of the project is a larger-than-life statue of Jay Berwanger. Who is he you ask? Why he is the first Heisman Trophy winner and he went to school in none other than Dubuque, Iowa. A replica of the trophy he won in 1935 has been out of the limelight in their indoor display case. Now his likeness is prominently displayed at the entrance to the grand stadium, and a granite wall heralds his remarkable story.
The statue has only been there about six weeks, but already it has inspired the start of a new tradition. As the football team enters the stadium, each of the players rubbed Berwanger’s raised shoe. Maybe they are hoping his talent will rub off on them as they tickle the bronze. Maybe they are paying tribute to one of the game’s greats. Maybe they are just feeding into superstition and hoping for good luck for their team.
In the beginning, no one knows this movement is taking place unless you are there to witness it yourself. But if this keeps up, at some point the statue’s shoe will be golden — just like Abraham Lincoln’s nose on the capitol steps in Springfield or the Fala dog statue in FDR’s monument in Washington, DC. Traditions initially just happen, but over the course of years or decades the result of them becomes visible to all.
What movement is taking place (or could take place) in your organization that starts out small and invisible, but could gather momentum and gain a life of its own? It is hard to force such rituals on people, but if you see the makings of one be sure to encourage it. It is ties like this that create a tight community of shared experiences.
— beth triplett