The Power of Celebrating Victories - and What You're Missing if You Don't

How good are you at celebrating victories? Even little ones?

Lex Ishimoto had every reason to believe, even assume, that he would be given a coveted ticket to the “So You Think You Can Dance” Academy.[1]

Lex is one of the most qualified candidates who has ever auditioned for this show. He has been dancing since the age of seven, competed in countless dance competitions, and trained extensively in hip hop, modern, and ballet. At age 15, he received a rare offer to train with the American Ballet Theater – and turned it down. He played Billy Elliot on Broadway, and performs with the famous Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound Dance Company.

Lex took a risk. He danced an improvisational routine rather than a choreographed one. He received a standing ovation from the judges and was given a ticket straight to the Academy.

Unexpected Celebration!

I honestly thought it would be reasonable for Lex not to be surprised or particularly excited about getting his ticket. Really, it was a foregone conclusion. And personally, when I am 99% sure I am going to reach a result, I often don’t exhibit a lot of emotion when I get it. I just don’t think it’s a big deal. But Lex looked almost like a little boy running out to the street with his ticket in hand, not quite knowing what to do with his excitement.

Here’s a video that includes his response to his victory. The quality is not great, but it’s the best I could find (please Google Lex Ishimoto YouTube if you’d like to view a better-quality video of the performance itself):


I was struck by my own thoughts about celebration as I watched Lex do his little victory dance. Here’s some of what went through my head:

  • I’m so glad he celebrated. I feel better because he celebrated! I bet people around me would feel better if I celebrated more.
  • I can celebrate things even if they seem small to me. Guess I don’t have to sit around waiting for big victories.
  • Maybe Lex celebrated because he risked doing an improv routine. He challenged himself and it could have backfired, but instead it paid off. I often feel true excitement when I take a risk and it pays off (and sometimes even when it doesn’t).
  • I should write a blog about this. Hmmm… I wonder what the research is on celebration?

That last bullet prompted me to do some Googling. Here’s what I found about why it’s important to celebrate, even small victories – especially in the workplace. (See 7 Reasons It Always Pays to Celebrate Small Victories and Here’s why you should throw yourself a party the next time you reach a goal.)

Some Benefits of Celebrating Victories:

  1. Positive reinforcement. People are motivated to perform better when they celebrate, and are celebrated for, their wins. Celebration creates future success.
  1. Fun. Celebrations make life – and work – fun! We work hard to achieve what we achieve, and it’s important to allow ourselves to be joyful for what we’ve done, rather than quickly move to the next thing.
  1. Marking progress. When you celebrate consistently, you create markers of where you’ve come from and where you are now. Keeping this perspective will motivate you to keep going, set even bigger goals, and clarify the direction you want to go.
  1. Confidence. Getting outside acknowledgment is one thing, but choosing to celebrate a victory for yourself is ultimately a more sustainable way to build confidence and joy. Yes, we get to create our own joy!
  1. It’s infectious. Celebrating yourself can create joy and satisfaction in others, particularly the people who helped you reach your goal. It will encourage them to join you too! Plus, you’ll start celebrating others more when you intentionally give props to yourself. I realize there might be some naysayers out there who think reveling in your wins will make other people feel bad. I would suggest you stop worrying about them and surround yourself with people who will rejoice with you!
  1. Gratitude. Much has been written on the benefits on gratitude. Celebrating victories is a powerful way to give thanks for what you have accomplished.

Remember, you don’t need to have big wins to find cause for celebration. Today I expressed joy when I received a meaningful compliment. I’m celebrating that a friend took me up on my offer to come over and use my WiFi when his was down. I’m celebrating that I went to the first meeting of an Entrepreneurs group at 6am this morning. And I’m celebrating that I made it through 10 rounds of a challenging circuit at the gym.

In a moment, I will give myself some love for writing my blog on Thursday night, three days before I usually sit down to do it.

There are so many things to inspire joy in life if you look for them. What can you take time to celebrate today?

[1] “So You Think You Can Dance” is a dance competition and TV show where dancers with a range of experience compete, first to get into the Academy, then to the Top 20, and then to win the competition. Winners must not only become fluent in dance styles including ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and Bollywood, but they must also exhibit a compelling range of emotion on the dance floor.


  1. Brenda, Connecting with peers has been one of my smartest moves. I have learned so much observing other career development leaders! I especially have learned much from your website and emails. I remember when peers were distant competitors. Now each and everyone of us is a global company by just existing in our electronic world. I think the most surprising lesson I have learned is how so many of the people in our field has made connecting more “personal professional” in promoting their business. It’s your personal name that you promote first rather than the business name. I am inspired. Now I have to find a bigger 24-hour day! Oh, that’s called time management. Lol. Thanks for sharing and have a great Friday! Baxter

    • Thank you Baxter! After keeping my blogs impersonal for a couple of years, I realized that, for my own fulfillment, I needed to put more personal material. I hope that my life and leadership insights define my brand in a relatable way. Btw, finding a bigger 24-hour day might be called delegation!

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