I have been thinking a lot about celebrating again lately. I taught the Project Management for History Professionals course for the American Association for State and Local History this winter, and the last concept we covered was the idea of celebrating the conclusion of a project. You may recall that I struggle with this step, and apparently others do as well. We had some great conversations about why this is an important thing to do for a project, but also why we don’t do it enough.
It turns out that celebration is important for a lot of things. I have been reading the book Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg. He really leans on the power of celebration in adding a new activity to your life. He talks a little about this in this video “C'mon, you gotta celebrate!” (about halfway down the page). Celebrating is not just nice — it’s science too!
And, speaking of celebrations, we are going to have a big one on May 12! There is so much to honor including 50 years of MMA, the Peninsulas Prize recipients for leadership and DEAI work, and the President’s Award for service. We will also acknowledge five people who have been significant donors to MMA, a dozen MMA members who have been appreciated by their colleagues, and 35 people who completed the full 2021 Leadership Series. That’s a lot of celebrating! I can’t wait.
Lisa Craig Brisson
I remember when my kids were little; I got really good at anticipating a growth spurt. They would often seem to be putting on weight, then they would get super cranky, and the next thing I knew, their pants were too short! I am sure someone has studied organizational change enough to be able to list the indicators for organizations, but it is only now that I can see how MMA has been building up to a growth spurt in the same way that my kids did.
I have been with MMA for ten years this summer, and we have been growing in small increments ever since then. First, I was VERY part-time. Then, I was half-time. At that point, we were able to add a quarter-time position (Claire) which then grew to half-time. Once Claire's position settled, my time started to grow again, and now I am three-quarters time, which is where I’d like to be a little bit longer.
Before 2020, our programs and services were growing as well. The conference was more robust each year and we started the Meet and Eat program that kept growing. When COVID hit we moved to Zoom and have now developed a program of online offerings including MMA member communities. We’ve been getting wider and wider for ten years!
But lately, we’ve been a little cranky. Or perhaps more accurately, stressed out. Both Claire and I have far more items on our to do list than time. It doesn’t feel sustainable or good. Hence the cranky.
And now here comes the fun part – a growth spurt! The MMA board of directors approved a new position for MMA earlier this month, and we have already gotten many applications from wonderful candidates. It will be a big change to go from a team of two to a team of three, but we are SO EXCITED. Our strategy for the new position will follow the slow growth pattern as well. It will start at quarter-time and grow as our capacity (and revenue) increases. We know how that works, and we can’t wait to make it happen.
Lisa Craig Brisson
How do you celebrate the successful completion of a project?” That was a question from my career coach earlier this month that stopped me in my tracks. We were discussing how I tend to take on two new projects to replace one that is ending. In my head, the issue was that my enthusiasm for good endeavors was greater than my capacity. But in that question, my coach helped me see that at least part of the issue was lack of closure. And indeed, one of the hardest parts of a project for me is completing and filing the final report. And because I dislike that stage, I tend to want to jump right to the next thing.
Further discussion identified that I don’t even have ideas for how to celebrate most of my projects. To me, the uber-extravert, a celebration must include other people. But I work alone and somehow a screen celebration just doesn’t do it for me. My coach pointed out that an effective closure celebration just needs to be different, not necessarily with others. We decided that to celebrate finally finishing the report for the 2021 conference, the last thing I need to do for that project, I will go to my wonderful local coffee shop and catch up on my professional reading. I’ll still be working, just doing something I enjoy and don’t often feel like I have time for. It’s a win, win.
That got me wondering what other tasks or completions I put off because I don’t want to do them? Or what are things that I like to do but that fall to the bottom of the priority list because other things are more pressing? As a result, I shredded a stack of papers (so satisfying) to celebrate completing the MMA bookkeeping for November (so tedious). Now, I can’t wait for December to end so I can reorganize a drawer in the file cabinet!
I am guessing that I will still take on more work than I should, but I am also enjoying coming up with ways to bask in the moment of completion when I wrap something up. What are some ways that you mark the end of a job well done?
There were a few things missing from my conference experience:
We are excited for the chance to share the 2020 MMA Annual Report in this issue of the MMA Review. We have been building toward having a “real” annual report to share for many years. It started as a verbal presentation about the year so far at the annual fall business meeting, and then became a set of infographics shared at the conference. A few years ago we shifted to sharing infographics for the whole year in January, and now this version includes more detail. I expect that the format will continue to evolve over time until we settle into a report that we think works best. We want our members and supporters to have a good sense of what we accomplish each year with the help of so many donors and volunteers.
Putting together my section for the report meant I had to go back and look at my calendar for the year and my notes for all of our projects and activities. You’d think that 2020 would be burned into my memory, but it was actually just the opposite. Most of the year is just a blur to me, and the farther we move from it, the smaller it all seems. Unlike watching my children grow up, I have no desire to hold on to memories from a year that was so stressful and challenging for so many.
On the other hand, I appreciate all that I am taking with me from that time. If life is a road trip, the museum-mobile is filled with the colleagues I had a chance to connect with for the first time or repeatedly during the year via Zoom. The trunk is filled with boxes of new skills and the results of many experiments that have helped us build our online programs into something that is now a permanent part of MMA. Tied to the roof are bins of strategies and plans that the board was able to focus on even as their own organizations were in crisis.
I am not sure I have ever been quite as happy to watch something disappear down the horizon as I am the year 2020, but I will be forever grateful for the way the Michigan museum community and MMA came together.
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