Leadership Limerick: Traditions Matter

Every Monday, I offer a leadership limerick, highlighting an idea or strategy about effective leadership in limerick form. Searching for leadership limerick will identify previous posts.

Traditions unite many as one
They can be somber, serious, or fun

Community is the ultimate aim
Diverse people experiencing the same

Passing on meaning is what has been done
Fireworks.  Holiday caroling.  Tossing the bride's bouquet.  Lighting the Menorah.  Hunting Easter eggs.  Saying Grace before a meal.  Putting flowers on a grave.

Regardless of (or perhaps because of) one's faith or cultural background, everyone at some point in their life experiences traditions, common activities shared with others across generational and geographical boundaries.  Traditions and rituals play a valuable role in creating community because they provide shared language, experience, and meaning.  Having that common connection allows individuals to feel part of something bigger than themselves.

The longer a tradition has existed, the more reluctance there may be should anyone want to change it.  "But that's the way we've always done it" is an oft-repeated cry of resistance.  But not every routine act serves a ritualistic purpose.  Not every tradition is meant to exist in perpetuity.  Whereas routines can become ruts, but rituals are rites of great meaning and significance that reflect values a community holds.

What is most important to preserve is the function of the tradition, the unifying role it can play, not necessarily its form.   Meaning and understanding is the heart of a true tradition or ritual.  That is what they try to preserve and transmit.

Changing rituals or traditions (legitimate or otherwise) has to be done with great care given how embedded they may have become in the identity of an organization or community.     But we can preserve the meaning behind the tradition even if we might modify the method through which it is achieved.