Smelling the Roses: Celebrating the Small Wins as an Owner

a woman smelling a rose

Success in business is more about people than the destination

By Kendell M. Jno-Finn, PT, DPT

Picture yourself on a 20-mile hike — you would plan rest breaks and water stops; you would “celebrate” your success and reward yourself to finish well but to enjoy the process.

Smelling the roses is not only about the celebration, but it’s about the big picture and building a framework for success. When practitioners, managers, and business owners take time to celebrate small wins along the journey it can have many positive effects on teams. Whether you look at productivity, team engagement, or retention, all can be positively impacted by celebrating regularly. The rehab industry has always had its challenges and particularly in today’s competitive environment where we are managing burnout, continued low reimbursement, and staffing challenges, it’s important that we leverage success to foster individual and team growth. We can do so by building into our organizations a framework for celebrating small wins. In this article, I will focus on three benefits: increased engagement, improved execution, and better focus on opportunities.


We often think about endorphins or the release of endorphins as it relates to exercise. Let’s also think about success or achieving something as “exercise” within our organizations. As we hit a monthly goal or three key performance indicators (KPIs) are all green-lit, we can think about endorphins being “released” within our team ecosystem. When we achieve success, our teams also enjoy a sense of accomplishment or reach their “runner’s high.” In celebrating these wins using consistent and shorter intervals, we can keep higher energy levels within our teams, which bleeds into things like cancellation rates and goal setting. When we watch a basketball game or football game, there is often talk about momentum and swings in momentum. A turnover that leads to a score for the opposing team in football can really impact the team’s (who committed the turnover) ability to execute. The same thing happens within our teams. Consistently celebrating small successes and focusing on the things that we have accomplished galvanizes your organization’s momentum.


The second benefit to celebrating small wins on a consistent basis is that it builds your team’s ability to execute no matter what your strategies are year to year or quarter to quarter. The consistent execution of the tactics within those strategies is what drives our goal execution and ultimately what drives our success. Regularly celebrating small wins, and building cultures that do, helps positively impact our team’s execution. When morale and engagement are higher, the team has a better understanding of, and buy into, the why behind the organization and its vision. This allows your team to see on a regular basis how today’s action leads to tomorrow’s success. That small shift in mindset can lead to greater output regardless of how you measure it. Think of it as a feed-forward system, but also a feedback loop at the same time. Team execution related to client engagement can lead to a higher net promoter score (NPS); which leads to the team setting bigger, hairier, more audacious goals because there’s a consistency to the celebration.


If your team increases its cadence or stride length, do you get to your goal faster? Do you get to your goal with seemingly less effort, but also a greater sense of joy, accomplishment, happiness, satisfaction, or whatever you prefer to call it? That is the benefit of consistently celebrating wins and consistently smelling the roses. Your team can fire on all cylinders, which makes the task seem less daunting.


Lastly, success is like a muscle. If that muscle is exercised (stressed) or broken down on a regular basis and allowed to recover, it functions better. The same thing happens when we train or treat an individual over the first three or four weeks and see neural adaptation. Consistently celebrating can improve their engagement, improve their execution and shift their mindset more to seeing what’s possible versus being limited by obstacles. Shifting organizational mindset can be an important step for an organization. Jim Collins, in his books Good to Great and Built to Last, talks about the idea of how the flywheel effect manifests itself in companies that are enduringly great. If your team can look within at your strategic plan and your specific goals, they’re able to take the framework for celebration and drive better goals while at the same time consistently stretching themselves. Your team will stretch themselves to make the goal for visits per month a little bit more difficult to achieve. The positive is that while you may not achieve it, you may have hit other goals that may have seemed impossible. Through this whole process, your team can increase their capacity.

Working together fosters engagement and improved team execution. This is pivotal for what we’re facing today. I think that if we poll teams from across the outpatient or inpatient rehab settings, we will find that an engaged team, will not only outperform a team with lower engagement, but they’ll also have lower levels of burnout. We may or may not fully embrace or understand all the factors associated with burnout, but it is important to accept the fact that our workforce can do better with the right investments. It’s imperative for us to wrap our minds around the fact that we can treat our teams similarly to the way we develop high-level athletes. We train, we recover, and we perform from an athletic standpoint; from a business standpoint: we work, we celebrate, and we perform. That continuum allows us to stress our teams, celebrate the victories that we have along the way, and then raise the bar for performance.

As a business owner, I believe that if you take time to smell the roses and celebrate the small successes along this journey, you will build more resilient teams, a more engaged workforce, and consistently outperform in the market. I challenge you to create a framework that matches your organizational cadence, regardless of what operating system or scoreboard you use. Find or develop a process for celebration that matches up with it. You’ll be amazed to see how your teams perform as a result. 

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Kendell M. Jno-Finn, PT, DPT

Kendell M. Jno-Finn, PT, DPT, , is an APTA Private Practice member and principle of M3 Endeavors which operates M3 Performance and Physical Therapy.