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Embrace the 'Celebration Mind-Set'

Why failures can and should be celebrated

by Scott Friedman
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Milestones, Mondays, one less cup of coffee today, fails, faults, holidays, achievements, finding your keys, and that’s just the beginning.

Failures can and should be celebrated! Celebration is about acknowledging all that is good in your life. Even what may appear to be a disaster can be “recalculated” if we focus on the gifts to be discovered and the lessons to be learned. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” says Vivian Greene.

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Let’s start with simple definitions that are fitting for this context:

Gratitude—appreciation for all the good things we have in our lives.

Play—having fun, creating humor, and being experimental in the moment.

Surprise—including the element of the unexpected.

Let’s explore each of these further.


Every morning, ask yourself this question: What am I grateful for today? If you can’t think of anything, check the obituary section of the newspaper. If your name is not there, there’s something to be grateful for. Food on the table, close relationships, health, a job, security, the air you breathe, a sunset, love in your heart. Celebrate yourself and your many blessings!

True gratitude can only come from a place of humility, authenticity, and integrity. That’s why when you practice being thankful, you bring more of what you appreciate into your life. Anthony Robbins put it this way: “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” And that’s when life truly will be a celebration.


A great way to incorporate play is to create humor rituals in your lab. I know, you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time to waste. But I also know that if you’re too busy to play, you’re too busy. A quick “play” break will pay off in greater creativity and productivity. How to set the stage? Some companies will go out on a limb to bring this philosophy to life.

Jolene Selby tells us the management of a government agency in Washington state was determined to bring back a childlike state in their employees with “Get in Touch with Your Inner Child Day.”

On this day each year, all employees are encouraged to wear their pajamas to work—appropriate ones, that is. The day starts with Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Puffs. Cartoons run continuously in the break room, where anyone can stop by and tap into his or her inner child. Candy and kids’ snacks are available throughout the day. Afternoon breaks include games such as “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” Sing-alongs and pillow fights inspire adults to let go of worries and stresses. This leads to a creative brainstorming session looking through the eyes of a child.

This allows everyone to regain their sense of wonder, spontaneity, curiosity, and playfulness while approaching the day’s opportunities without limitation.


Surprise is invigorating! Odette Huang, director of marketing and branding at the Royal Plaza on Scotts, Singapore, excels at surprising employees and customers.

Guests booking the Royal Plaza online are asked if they are celebrating something special. One couple wrote that they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The Customer Relations team tracked down their daughter, got a wonderful photo from their wedding, used Photoshop to improve the picture quality, and put it in an attractive frame.

Once the couple arrived, Huang invited them up to the Club Lounge together with the GM, Patrick Fiat, and the Customer Relations team. There they sang “Happy Anniversary” and presented the framed photo to the astonished and teary-eyed couple.

Can you feel that celebration mindset taking hold yet? Good. Then you have officially turned on your GPS— gratitude, play, surprise. Now, how do we keep it running?

  • Start by making a commitment to facing each moment of the day with as much gratitude, playfulness, and surprise as you can muster. Your GPS will help you embrace the positive emotions of curiosity, spontaneity, passion, joy, and love for all you do.
  • Remember, each of us has a choice as to how we look at things. We can mope in the rain, or we can be thankful for the gift of moisture and carry a bright yellow polka-dot umbrella. Practice gratitude, and you will forever enrich your life.

When you operate with your GPS turned “on,” something good is bound to happen. Give yourself a turbo boost to unprecedented levels of well-being, productivity, and success— one celebration at a time. In other words, life can make you bitter, or life can make you better. Choose better; choose GPS. And let’s keep the celebration going!

LABCAST: Be sure to attend Scott Friedman's Lab Manager Academy webinar "Create a Culture of Celebration in Your Lab" on Wednesday, October 2 (or afterward at, to watch the archived video).