[Life Back West] March 2014 – The Six O’Clock Club

Ask any priest, competitive athlete like Michael Jordan, or experienced traveler.iStock_000019334536Medium

Rituals done with intent bring meaning to life.

They also work, doing things like boosting performance and making things go better.

Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton noted in Scientific American that “investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

And Fast Company has weighed in that simple rituals – the advice I advocate that gets wrapped into executive coaching work with individuals and teams –  helps you boost performance and reach your potential.

Rituals help you move through events, signal the end or start of something, and give you “space” to move on.

At home on Dolores Street the new ritual for our fifth grade son is the “Six O’Clock Club.

It’s that time of the late afternoon when his 30 minutes of daily reading is finished, math homework and any projects completed, and some licks on a bass guitar have been registered.

Instead of  hitting the gym, brew pub or Dolores Park like the thousands of 20 and 30-somethings that call the Mission “home,” 11 year-old JT and his schoolmates log-in to play Minecraft together.

Minecraft has become the day’s capper, complete with group audio chat and online game play, the last school cohort-related activity before dinner at 6:30 PM signals reentry into the orbit of parents, wind-down and bedtime.

A piece in Psychology Today posited that rituals work “by helping to draw a straight line from the past to the present to the future, they might do just as good of a job helping us feel a sense of comfort and control over our lives.

And for our son and his friends, Minecraft signals that last little bit of youth autonomy before full return to the confines of parents and family.

So the phrase “Call you at 6” doesn’t just mean an online virtual game.

It means real life transition.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.



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