UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 4 – TRADITIONS
Traditions are rites, rituals, actions, stories, language, gatherings, symbols that give a community a pathway to deeper meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging. Every family, tribe, sporting club, organization, culture or nation has its traditions. Tradition comes from an inner space that is seeking meaning, deep human connection and understanding. Men long for traditions, they nourish our spirits and when at their best, they ennoble us and those around us.
Good traditions create a sense of belonging and help us name, nurture and celebrate that belonging. We ‘buy-in’ more to the culture of a group when the traditions are real and relevant. They create shared ownership. One of their key purposes is to help give meaning to what is core / central to the life of the community; they give that community soul and depth. They express – beyond words, our common bonds, our core values, our reason for wanting to belong and our shared purpose. So often the best traditions are small and simple but speak straight to the heart of the matter.
There are both good and bad traditions and we have all experienced workplaces or sporting clubs whose culture was toxic. Often this toxicity is linked to bad traditions. When a tradition becomes an end in itself – it becomes hollow, devoid of its original purpose and creates a lack of balance and perspective.
Negative traditions can limit us and wrap the culture of the organisation in labels that suit the out of balance needs of a small few. Forced sculling (skolling) competitions, sexual acts, all forms of bullying and anything that robs a member of the community of their innate dignity are negative traditions and ultimately harm not only the individual but also the group.
On Anzac day in Australia each year we could simply have a public holiday. But instead in tens of thousands we gather and remember; the dawn service, flags half-mast, the last post, the eternal flame, the tomb of the unknown soldier, poppies, two up and more. Each of these gives us an insight and sacred entry point to the depth and meaning of the Anzac story.
- If traditions do not enhance and ennoble, then they are dead, get rid of them or change them deliberately and publicly
- Traditions and story are intimately linked and need to be honoured and enhanced and added to over time.
- Put time and effort into the maintaining and celebrating of tradition, and if linked to your core values – it will enhance the day to day life of your club, organisation, family etc.
- One of the roles of the true leader in any community is to be one of the guardians of the traditions – to be the core storytellers and one of the ones who will bring the community back to the core story
- To be effective the leader needs to find ways to continually tell the story behind the tradition. I always say, “Know the story, tell the story, become the storyteller!” The elders of a community (and the elder is not always the oldest) are those who tell the stories of the core values of the community through rituals and rite, symbol and story.
- The true leader becomes the chief storyteller and they carry the torch. If the flame flickers – then reignite it, it will demand hard work, but if authentic, the flame will burst into life again.
- Remember, you can’t impose tradition! The leader, through credibility and authenticity, will lead the group, creating, and organically growing traditions. And if it ‘feels right’ not only will the group want to be there but over time as ownership deepens it becomes ‘their tradition and our tradition’.
YOUR CHALLENGE TO CREATE TRADITIONS:
On your own or with a few mates, answer the following:
- What are your current traditions? When and how did they form?
- Are they positive and enhancing the lives of the people involved?
- What can you enhance in them to make them more meaningful, positive and noble?
- What new traditions might you start?
OK Legends. Go create some lifelong traditions.
Pricey & Grego