It has always been common practice to take a big goal and break it down into smaller steps and technology has made it so easy to do. We measure everything these days — the number of steps you take in a day, the number of times you shop at a particular store, the number of reps during your workout – and more tracking provides greater opportunity for creating arbitrary milestones to celebrate.

In the era of computer gaming, recognition becomes even more important to do as gamers are used to achieving acknowledgment upon reaching intermediate “levels” – and soon the expectation will carry over into the workplace. As a supervisor, you can increase motivation by creating – then celebrating – interim steps on a long journey.

An example of this occurs in the St. Louis schools where the “100th Day of School” has become a big deal. There are special projects (eg: bringing in 100 items of something, writing 100 words, 100 Days t-shirts, 100 prizes, etc.). It has become so special that when two kids had to miss school that day for an out-of-town engagement, they shared their own 100 Days photo (below) on social media.

I have written before about the President’s 100 Days and the arbitrary badges provided by Fitbit, but you can make anything seem special by so declaring it, even if it has no legitimate significance. Think about the big tasks you are facing: a tax season, a new equipment installation or a road trip with the family. How can you provide demarcation for moments along the way: free lunch when the 124th return is filed, everyone does jumping jacks when the equipment is out of the box or you pull over for ice cream at the first exit after the 87th mile.

You possess the power to create something out of the ordinary at any point in a journey. Use that ability to motivate yourself and others to keep going.

Thanks, Brian!

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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