8  ̴  Ceremony Delivers Positive Emotional Energy

Positive Emotional Energy: a deep feeling of belonging, contentment, and unity which motivates to produce an effect

A typical business process or procedure is considered successful if it simply delivers the required result. We demand significantly more of ceremony:

A ceremony leaves its participants with positive emotional energy.

You can have purpose, participants, ritual structure, and follow the process flawlessly; however, if it does not leave participants with positive emotional energy, it fails as a ceremony.  Evolve it.  Try something new.

Positive emotional energy is an essential component of successful ceremony.

This is not nearly as hard as it initially sounds. Ceremony’s secret power is that humans are naturally inclined to like participating in ceremony. Positive emotional energy is a natural result of well-structured ceremony.

To detect if a ceremony is providing positive emotional energy all you have to do is ask the participants, Did you enjoy the ceremony? If the answer is No then the ceremony needs to change. A simple follow-up question will usually provide the necessary insights to fix the problem, Why did you not enjoy the ceremony?

Common observations include we have seen include:

  • “A single person monopolized the conversation”
  • “People shared too much non-relevant information and I got bored”
  • “It simply isn’t helping me get my work done”

The secret to effective ceremony is actually listening to and acting on feedback.

People naturally receive emotional energy by socially engaging with other humans in ritual structure. This occurs when people eat together, drink together, dance together, or even do something as pedestrian as watching TV together. Have you ever sat down to watch a movie with someone who brought a book along? You’re watching the TV show and you notice them out of the corner of your eye reading the book, and you get annoyed at them. It makes you feel badly.

You feel badly because they are somehow not with you socially. The book pulls them into a separate place, away from the movie and away from you. They are not really participating in the TV Watching Ceremony with you.

In more scientific framing, a big part of who we are is subconscious, but that part is visible through our emotions. Ceremony focuses our conscious intellect while simultaneously satisfying unconscious emotional needs.

Only if these emotional needs are satisfied will we develop the discipline to turn the ceremony into habit.

Positive emotional energy turns effective process into emotionally-addicting habit, and in turn into organizational culture.  Group social pressures, praise and criticism, inclusion and exclusion, subtly reinforce ceremonial structure—teams even reach the point of righteous anger if someone is refusing to implement the ritual forms correctly. They even eliminate themselves underperforming members, if you let them.

Positive emotional energy is essential if we are to reach ceremony’s necessary end state—self-replication—where one generation who knows how to execute the ceremony feels emotionally compelled to teach it to the next generation.

The presence or absence of positive emotional energy is a primary diagnostic tool to determine if we are creating good ceremony or dead ritual.


 A ceremony is ritualized social interaction to complete an element of work, requiring sacrifice, and rewarding the participants with positive emotional energy.

Sacrifice: something given up for the sake of a better cause. Ceremony requires sacrifice. All ceremonies have a cost, a price for the participants to be involved. Perhaps the biggest sacrifice ceremonies demand is your focus and attention. Turn off the cell phones. Quiet your mind. Be focused on the…
The word evolution in a word cloud.
Evolve: to come forth gradually into being; adapt into a new state or form. We create ceremonies in our organizations to achieve a purpose, to accomplish an element of work, and hopefully to provide a positive return on our investment. If ceremonies are not performing as required, then they have…

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