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Four rituals guaranteed to make you a better leader

Most stress comes from trying to control things that are out of our control: the weather, the economy, the stock market, the competition, the latest trends, other people’s behavior.

When we focus on these external forces, we become reactive and assume a victim role, finding ourselves feeling helpless, stressed out, anxious and frantic.

The most successful people spend effort on what they can control, the rituals that prepare them for success.

How do successful people prepare? How does a basketball player get ready to make a free throw? How does a golfer prepare to sink the 20-foot birdie putt?

Rituals. They all develop rituals that are repeated over and over and over. Rituals under their control.

In leadership and life, rituals take the form of daily disciplines over which we have control and that keep us grounded and focused.

Here are four rituals you can develop that will reduce stress and improve productivity.


Checking in is the discipline of stopping long enough to listen and take stock of what’s going on with yourself and others.

Check-ins are best done at the start of your day and can be as short as a few minutes. Personal check-ins include answering questions such as:

▪ What emotions am I feeling?

▪ What is my body telling me?

▪ What are my goals for today?

▪ What attitude will I have today?

▪ What do I want to improve on today?

▪ What choices will I make today to pursue my best self?

Team check-ins have a similar purpose and should be done at the beginning of meetings. Include questions such as:

▪ How are you feeling today?

▪ What concerns, desires or special requests do you have?

▪ What decisions are you facing?

▪ What support or resources do you want from the team today?

Check-ins are a staple of centered individuals and cohesive teams. They prepare you and your team to face what’s next as an aligned unit.


Debriefing is the discipline of processing an experience to distill learning and move forward. Any project, goal or milestone should have regular debriefs built in. Typical debrief questions include:

▪ How are we feeling about the experience?

▪ Were we successful? Why or why not?

▪ What worked and what didn’t work?

▪ What will we do differently next time?

▪ How do we want to act with each other going forward?

Debriefing prepares you for what’s next by turning mistakes into stepping stones for success. Neither success nor failure nor any external events should stop a debrief.

Positive attitude

Positive attitude is not blind faith.

It is the courage to believe in people and in the value of struggling with purpose. It is the creativity to find pockets of success even during a setback.

It is refusing to allow fear, doubt and anxiety to have control. It is the guts to cast a vision for tomorrow that’s better than today.

Positive attitude prepares you to face risk and adversity with no loss of enthusiasm. It is independent of what happens to you.


The most resilient people and teams celebrate often.

They never let busy schedules, the next deadline or a setback stop them from relishing the positives. They affirm each other and delight in even the smallest successes. And they don’t wait for the win to celebrate because they know celebration is an attitude toward life, not dependent on what happens to them.

Develop rituals of checking in, debriefing, positive attitude and celebration to focus your energy on what you can control. By doing this, you will experience less stress, more satisfaction and greater productivity.

Nate Regier is CEO and co-founding owner of Next Element Consulting, a global leadership communication advisory and training firm based in Newton. Contact him at or 316-772-6174.

Interested in writing for “Business Perspectives”? Contact Tom Shine at or 316-268-6268.