“The greatest moments in life are not concerned with selfish achievements but rather with the things we do for the people we love and esteem.”
–– Walt Disney
If I asked you to think about the most powerful moments in your life, you might first think of the big ones – your wedding, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, advancement in your career.
These milestones certainly stand out, as we think of our lives in broad terms. These are indeed the major chapters when we tell our stories.
But if I ask you think more deeply about the special moments of your childhood, you might recall ice cream with a parent, fireworks on the beach, or the first time someone taught you to ride a bike.
In my coaching and training, I ask people to bring and share stories. I also ask them to start a story bank that can be used to retell their stories in business to bring their messages to life.
Power of simple moments
Inevitably, these stories reflect the power of simple moments. A heartfelt note from a boss, tears from a customer, or a smile from a child.
While we think of our lives in broad, sweeping terms of many years, our key, cherished memories are simple moments in time. This is why the best films and books focus on sharing small gestures and moments.
The special moments are just minutes in hundreds of thousands of hours of experience. As leaders, it’s critical to create the moments that shape the experience of the people we work with. Whether with your customers, employees, or others, some thought and planning may produce extraordinary experiences.
One recent book outlines the importance of creating these experiences. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact,* is another great book from authors (and brothers) Chip Heath and Dan Heath, who also wrote the classic, Made to Stick.*
The authors say moments are critical “because research has found that in recalling an experience, we ignore most of what happened and focus instead on a few particular moments….
“When people assess an experience, they tend to forget or ignore its length –– a phenomenon called ‘duration neglect.’ Instead, they seem to rate the experience based on two key moments: (1) the best or worst moment, known as the ‘peak’; and (2) the ending. Psychologists call it the ‘peak-end rule.’”
“What’s indisputable is that when we assess our experiences, we don’t average our minute-by-minute sensations. Rather, we tend to remember flagship moments: the peaks, the pits, and the transitions.”
Create positive experiences
This is obviously an important lesson to remember in business and in life. In service businesses, it’s critical to create positive impressions and memorable experiences.
Traveling as much as I do, I stay in a range of high-end and average hotels and I’m always interested in the experience they create. The authors use the example of the Magic Castle Hotel, which is consistently rated as one of the top three hotels in Los Angeles, higher than the upscale Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons hotels.
The Magic Castle Hotel achieves this rating despite the fact that it is anything but luxurious. “It’s not that it’s a bad-looking place; it’s fine. It looks like a respectable budget motel,” they write. Then why is it so highly rated that people rave about it to their friends and share it forever?
Here’s the secret. They’ve created extraordinary moments that are unforgettable, as the Heath brothers write:
Let’s start with the cherry-red phone mounted on the tool wall near the pool. You pick it up and someone answers, ‘Hello, popsicle hotline.’ You place an order, and minutes later, a staffer wearing white gloves delivers your cherry, orange, or grape popsicles to you at poolside. On a silver tray. For free.
Then there’s the snack menu, a list of goodies––ranging from Kit Kat’s to root beer to Cheetos––that can be ordered up at no cost. There’s also a board game menu and DVD menu, with all items loaned for free. Three times a week, magicians perform tricks at breakfast. Did we mention you can drop off unlimited loads of laundry for free washing? Your clothes are returned later in the day, wrapped in butcher paper and tied up with twine and a sprig of lavender.
The guest reviews for the Magic Castle Hotel are rapturous. What the Magic Castle has figured out is that, to please customers you need not obsess over every detail. Customers will forgive small swimming pools and underwhelming room décor, as long as some moments are magical.
There are so many opportunities all of us have to create unique and memorable experiences, yet we thoughtlessly stick with the well-worn path.
Defining special moments
The Power of Moments * defines four key elements for you to consider in creating special, defining moments:
ELEVATION: They rise above the everyday experience.
INSIGHT: They may shift your point of view of yourself or the world.
PRIDE: They capture moments of accomplishment or courage.
CONNECTION: They are often social events that strengthen the bonds we share with others.
I urge you to consider how you might take initiative to elevate experiences for yourself and those important to you in business and life.
- Try a different approach at your next retreat –– as an opener, have everyone bring a meaningful object from home and explain the moment it became important to them.
- Send a customer a thank you with a small, different gift, such as your favorite candy or dessert.
- Pick a “crazy” place for a weekend getaway with your partner or family.
It’s up to you. You have the ability to design the right kind of memorable experience, with powerful moments that might last a lifetime.
One final thought: as you think about creating special moments, don't lose the gift of being present for these moments. Too many of us have become consumed by our phones and have lost our mindfulness. Lots of us are capturing moments to share with others (it's Instagrammable!) rather than actually being present in the moment.
You see it everywhere: people glued to phones while walking dogs, sitting with children, dining with others.
I was watching an Austrailian DJ and singer who, during a concert, looked out and saw a sea of phones facing him. He screamed at his audience "you paid me a lot of money to be here with you so, for this one song, put down your phones and be here with me!" (I redacted over the colorful language.)
Thank you for sharing these moments with me.