In the movie The Intern, Anne Hathaway plays the founder of a tech/fashion startup and Robert DeNiro is her unlikely “senior intern.” At the company’s open layout office, there is a tradition where a bell is rung to celebrate an achievement. You can ring the bell to announce that you’ve done something noteworthy or in recognition of someone else’s efforts or accomplishments. When the bell is rung, everyone stops what they’re doing for a moment to cheer or clap, before going right back to what they were doing.
My initial reaction in watching this was that it was a cheesy, somewhat contrived ritual that one might expect from a Silicon Valley startup.
Recently, a box of books sat in our hallway for a week. In the box were copies of Las Tres Pequeñas Locomotoras, the newly released Spanish translation of my children’s book Three Little Engines. My youngest daughter came up to me and asked if there was something wrong. Wondering why I hadn’t opened the box and shared the copies with everyone to see.
I didn’t have a good answer.
Very few books get selected to be translated into Spanish and I was indeed proud and happy that mine was. Yet like most things, I was choosing not to make a big deal of it.
In my home, while we acknowledge or congratulate each other when someone shares good news – we don’t really pause to truly celebrate it.
I thought for a minute about what message that must send to my family.
So I went out and bought a bell.
During dinner, I placed the bell on our kitchen counter. Acknowledging that they might find it corny or annoying but underscoring the importance of pausing if just for a minute to recognize and celebrate each other when something happens that makes us feel proud or joyful.
I rang the bell and opened the box to some knowing smiles.
Later, one daughter rang the bell announcing her grades so far this year. Another rang the bell twice when her annoying tooth had finally come out. The next day I learned that my middle daughter had been the youngest person selected to join a group that plays Taps on the trumpet at the funerals of veterans. We both smiled as I rang the bell for her.
I don’t know how long the bell will last before someone gets annoyed by it all and throws it at someone but I hope it stays for a while. I hope it ushers in a habit of celebrating one another more than we do now, in a way that brings us a moment of joy amidst the crazy and hectic world we live in.
Speaking of Joy. My latest episode of Attribution is now available featuring the singer/songwriter Joy Oladokun. She was, as her name suggests, an absolute joy to speak with. I just love her music and the way it helps us make sense of the world. I’m proud of how our conversation turned out and hope you have a listen.
Hmm. Maybe I should ring that bell now.
I hope you too find ways to ring a bell, toot your horn, or however you choose to celebrate what you or others close to you do to make the world a little better.
It may sound cheesy but don’t cheesy things normally make you smile?